Boys Basketball – Manasquan Returns to No. 2 in Topsy-Turvy Shore 16 Rankings
The last Shore Sports Network Shore 16 came after a holiday tournament week full of surprises that injected some major upheaval in the rankings. This week, we are moving away from upheaval and approaching chaos.
The rankings were about two seconds away from chaos when Christian Brothers Academy had Manasquan down by three with 1.7 seconds to go, only to watch the Warriors tie the game at the buzzer and win it in overtime. CBA would have been the next team up to take its turn at No. 2 and even in falling short of that for the time being, the game showed that there will indeed be parity beyond the No. 1 team in the rankings.
For now, it’s not quite chaotic, but the Shore is looking more and more like it will be unpredictable all the way to the conference tournament final.
1. St. Rose (9-1) Last Week: 1
The Purple Roses made it nine straight wins with a double-overtime victory over St. Benedict’s at Saturday’s Hoop Group Boardwalk Showcase in which the defense was on display. The defense had to get the job done on an off-night shooting, but Matt Hodge stepped up with 27 points and the Purple Roses showed they could hit big free throws. While it’s hard to see a Shore team beating St. Rose, this week will provide a couple of good tests to that theory in the form of games at Holmdel and Red Bank Catholic.
2. Manasquan (8-1) Last Week: 3
The Warriors opened the season looking like the team that steamrolled most of the Shore Conference in 2022-23, but over the last 10 days, Manasquan has had to battle into the final minutes and beyond. While they could not find the formula in a loss to Toms River North on Dec. 30, the Warriors did figure it out in Saturday’s overtime win over CBA in what was one of Manasquan’s more thrilling wins of the last several years.
3. Holmdel (8-1) Last Week: 8
One of the aspects of Holmdel’s roster that made the Hornets such an interesting team heading into this season was that they brought back two players who averaged 17 points per game in 2022-23. One of those players – Nick Seeloch – missed six games while recovering from a burst appendix and the Hornets went 5-1 during that stretch with only a loss at Manasquan. Now, Seeloch is back, the Hornets are deeper and more senior-laden than they have been in four years. Holmdel will get a major heat check Thursday when St. Rose comes to town.
4. Toms River North (7-2) Last Week: 2
The stay at No. 2 did not last long, but Toms River North still has top-five credentials thanks to its wins over Colts Neck, Central and Manasquan to win the WOBM Christmas Classic. The fourth quarter has been Toms River North’s undoing into its two losses – one at Toms River South and one in its home arena to Holmdel last week. The Mariners will wrap up its week with a rematch vs. Central, this time at the Golden Eagles’ home gym.
5. Red Bank (8-2) Last Week: 4
Despite losing to Red Bank Catholic on Saturday at Brookdale, Red Bank played a competitive game and retains its strong résumé that includes wins over three teams currently ranked and two more that were ranked when the Bucs played them. CBA has played well since losing to Red Bank and Marlboro has played well since Red Bank routed the Mustangs, so the Bucs come out looking good on both fronts. Monday’s trip east on Ridge Road to Rumson-Fair Haven will likely be for a spot in the top five of the rankings.
6. Christian Brothers Academy (4-3) Last Week: 5
CBA let one slip away Saturday at Brookdale, where the Colts were – depending how you look at it – a free throw or 1.7 seconds away from knocking off Manasquan for their fourth straight win and climbing to No. 2 in the rankings. The Colts have shown recently that the ingredients are there to be the Shore’s No. 2 team when all is said and done. For now, with a close win over Rumson and close losses to Manasquan and Red Bank, it all adds up to a No. 6 ranking.
7. Colts Neck (6-2) Last Week: 9
A 31-point win over Red Bank Catholic rocketed Colts Neck to No. 3 and it remains a valuable win for the Cougars, who got back on track last week with wins over Jackson Liberty and Freehold Township by a combined 67-point margin. This week starts with a game against a Manalapan squad trying to crack into the Top 10 and also includes a date at CBA on Thursday, which will give Colts Neck a chance to re-enter the top five.
8. Red Bank Catholic (7-3) Last Week: 10
RBC’s three losses are to Manasquan, on the road at East Orange and at Colts Neck with 6-foot-6 senior Tyler Burham home sick. Speaking of Burnham, he was a standout in the Caseys’ two big wins to close out the week – the first on Friday against Northern Highlands and the second a two-point win over rival Red Bank at the Boardwalk Showcase at Brookdale. RBC has a pair of big crossover matchups vs. Marlboro and Freehold Township this week and will close it out Saturday at home against No. 1 St. Rose.
9. Rumson-Fair Haven (8-1) Last Week: 6
The Bulldogs’ schedule has not yet picked up, but it is about to. Rumson hosts Red Bank on Monday in the Ridge Road rivalry, heads to Jackson Memorial on Wednesday and closes out its challenging week by hosting St. Peter’s Prep – currently 8-0 and ranked No. 4 in the state. This escalation in competition comes after Rumson hit a buzzer-beater Friday to win at Marlboro.
10. Marlboro (4-4) Last Week: 12
Although they are only .500, the Mustangs has a stellar body of work thanks comes with playing one of the toughest schedules of any Shore team outside of St. Rose. Marlboro’s losses are to No. 2 Manasquan, No. 5 Red Bank, No. 7 Colts Neck and No. 9 Rumson-Fair Haven, while the Mustangs have beaten three teams that are either ranked or have been ranked this season.
11. Central (7-3) Last Week: 13 – Wins over Toms River South, Ranney and Donovan Catholic put Central’s defense on display and if it keeps up, the Golden Eagles could play their way back into top-five consideration later this week vs. Toms River North.
12. Ranney (5-3) Last Week: 7 – Losses at Central and Holmdel drop the Panthers from the top 10 and Ranney will try to regroup in time for a trip to CBA on Saturday.
13. Toms River South (6-3) Last Week: 11 – With double-digit losses to Central and Point Boro this week was a reality check for Toms River South, but wins over Toms River North, Donovan Catholic and Freehold Township keep the Indians in the picture for the moment.
14. Donovan Catholic (7-3) Last Week: Not ranked – After knocking off Howell this week, the Griffins are back in the rankings, with their only losses coming to Red Bank Catholic, Toms River South and Central.
15. Freehold Boro (5-3) Last Week: Not ranked – The Colonials showed what they are capable of by beating Southern to close out last week.
16. Henry Hudson (9-1) Last Week: Not ranked – The Admirals have played a soft schedule overall, but one of their wins is over a 7-1 Shore Regional squad. Whatever the schedule, Henry Hudson is 9-1. That is worth something in this topsy-turvy Shore Conference.
Southern (6-4) Last Week: 14 – A loss to Freehold Boro drops the Rams from the rankings, but they have shown potential to hang with quality opponents thanks to a talented underclass backcourt.
Jackson Memorial (5-4) Last Week: 15 – The Jaguars still have a solid case to be ranked, with a loss to Manalapan knocking them off their perch for the time being.
Howell (6-4) Last Week: 16 – Howell narrowly missed out on wins at Red Bank and Donovan Catholic and remain within striking distance of a ranking, maybe even a top 10 ranking.