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Since the 2014-15 season, the Class A South division has had only one team capable of competing near the top of the Shore Conference. Toms River North dominated the division for six straight seasons and won at a high level, while the rest of the division could not keep up and rarely made much noise in the postseason.

That trend began to chance last season, not just with Toms River North finishing in the middle of the pack, but with multiple A South teams beginning to show the potential to play deep into the postseason. Both Jackson Memorial and Brick Memorial made it to their respective NJSIAA sectional semifinals, which came after the two battled down to the wire for the division title and Jackson Memorial made it to the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals.

Heading into this year, both Jackson Memorial and Brick Memorial have a chance to be even better and Toms River North looks poised to return to the top of the division, or at least close to it. The conditions are ripe for a spirited division race and, perhaps, a Shore Conference postseason that includes two A South teams in the SCT quarterfinals and several making runs in the NJSIAA Tournament.

In predicted order of finish

1. Jackson Memorial

Last year was the first full season for Jackson Memorial under the direction of Randy Holmes and it nearly went about as well as it could have. The Jaguars made it back to the semifinals of both the Shore Conference Tournament and the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV Playoffs for the first time since 2014 with a team that featured just one senior in the rotation. With four starters and several more contributors off the bench back in the fold, Jackson Memorial will try to climb to the top of the Class A South division and build off those two postseason runs.

The senior backcourt trio of Samir Padilla, Respect Tyleek and four-year starter Keith Adame will again be the strength of the Jackson Memorial squad, with all three returning with all-division recognition in Class A South. Senior Charlie Meglio is another returning starter and his frontcourt presence will be particularly valuable after the graduation of another frontcourt stalwart, Steven Bado. Meglio begins the season dealing with an injury, as is returning sixth-man and potential starter Mehki Cherry.

With two likely starters sidelined heading into opening night, seniors Shaun Hubbard and Joe Antenucci will jump into the starting lineup, with freshman Randy Holmes Jr., sophomore Brady Adams and Long Branch transfer Devin Jones – the top scorer for the Green Wave as a sophomore in 2021-22 – backing them up. The deeper lineup gives the Jaguars a chance to stem the early injury tide and dream big once the roster rounds into form.

Jackson Memorial junior Respect Tyleek. (Photo: Tom Smith |
Jackson Memorial senior Respect Tyleek. (Photo: Tom Smith |

Head Coach: Randy Holmes, third season
2021-22 Record: 20-8 (9-3, second in Class A South)
Key Losses:
Steve Bado, 6-4, Forward

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Samir Padilla, Sr., 5-10, Guard

Keith Adame, Sr., 6-1, Guard

Respect Tyleek, Sr., 6-2, Guard

Mekhi Cherry, Sr., 6-2, Guard/Forward

Charlie Meglio, Sr., 6-5, Forward


Off the Bench

Joe Antenucci, Sr., 6-3, Forward

Shaun Hubbard, Sr., 6-0, Forward

Devin Jones, Jr., 5-10, Guard (Transfer from Long Branch)

Randy Holmes Jr., Fr., 6-3, Guard

Brady Adams, So., 6-1, Guard

Caleb Frage, Sr., 6-1, Guard


2. Brick Memorial

Coming off the program’s first division championship since 2008, Brick Memorial will be motivated to show it can do it again. The Mustangs were somewhat slighted when, after clinching the Class A South title, were seeded behind Jackson Memorial in the Shore Conference Tournament. While it did not ignite a deep SCT run, it did precede a run to the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III semifinal, where the Mustangs lost a heartbreaker at Robbinsville.

Heading into 2022-23, Brick Memorial will have to replace the production of All-Shore center Luke Braaten. While the Mustangs don’t have another 6-foot-7 center capable of leading the Shore Conference in blocked shots, they do have a collection of returnees that will look to open up the floor with a faster, more perimeter-oriented style. Seniors Brian Starrett and Josh Michigan will lead the offense, with Starrett returning as the Shore’s top assist-man in 2021-22 (6.1 per game). Classmates Dorian Alston and Jeremish Crispin also return as major contributors, with Crispin moving into the starting five after serving as an effective sixth-man a season ago.

Brick Memorial coach Mike Pelkey said he envisions multiple players occupying the fifth stater spot depending on the development of some of Brick Memorial’s younger players, as well as matchups. Senior Eric Sliazis has the inside track to begin the season as the starter and will look to run with the opportunity, but will be a contributor whether as a starter or off the bench. Building up the depth and finding ways to incorporate the fifth player on the floor to go with the four returnees will be key for a Brick Memorial team trying to once again overcome Jackson Memorial to win a division title, as well as finish off a postseason run.

Brick Memorial junior Josh Michigan. Photo: Richard E. O'Donnell
Brick Memorial senior Josh Michigan. Photo: Richard E. O'Donnell

Head Coach: Mike Pelkey, sixth season
2021-22 Record: 20-7 (10-2, first place in Class A South)
Key Losses:
Luke Braaten, 6-7, Center; Jason Ellerbrock, 6-2, Guard

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Josh Michigan, Sr., 6-4, Guard

Brian Starrett, Sr., 6-3, Guard

Dorian Alston, Sr., 6-4, Forward

Jeremiah Crispin, Sr., 6-1, Forward

Eric Sliazis, Sr., 6-4, Forward/Center


Off the Bench

Ray Vito, Sr., 5-10, Guard

Mike Dayton, Sr., 6-1, Forward

Billy Caruso, Sr., 5-10, Guard

Carlton Cummings, Jr., 5-9, Guard


3. Toms River North

Toms River North’s winning streak against Class A South competition unofficially ended at 75 games during the 2021 season and officially ended at 74 last season when traditional divisional play returned. Either way, Toms River North enjoyed an unprecedented run on dominance and it was not that long ago that the Mariners were at the peak of their powers. With a junior-loaded team that is full of standout athletes, the potential for Toms River North to run through the Class A South division is back heading into 2022-23.

There is not an obvious, go-to scorer on the roster, but the Mariners have athletes and some capable shooters and finishers. Owen Baker was an impact player off the bench and Jeremiah Pruitt, Micah Ford and Tareq Council were do-it-all starters – no surprise considering their prowess on the football field for the state’s best public-school team. Senior Delani Hyde, meanwhile, is a 6-7 presence on both sides of the floor who has a developed skillset that will present matchup issues for opponents. Factor in up-and-coming sophomore point guard Sherrod Nelson and Toms River North has six starting-caliber players at coach Rory Caswell’s disposal.

Hyde and bench players Isaiah Jones and Matt Bozicev are the only seniors on the Toms River North roster and even last year, the Mariners were reliant on the 2024 class for major production. Considering how football-heavy the roster is, it may take some time for Toms River North to full round into form, but with a pair of proven, basketball-first players in Hyde and Baker to get the season started, the Mariners could be primed to jump Brick Memorial and Jackson Memorial to reclaim the top spot in Class A South – a familiar position for the program over the last decade.

Toms River North senior Delani Hyde. (Photo: Richard O'Donnell Photography)
Toms River North senior Delani Hyde. (Photo: Richard O'Donnell Photography)

Head Coach: Rory Caswell, 12th season
2021-22 Record: 14-13 (6-6, tied fourth in Class A South)
Key Losses:
Ryan Baker, 6-2, Guard; Lamir Mitchell, 6-3, Guard/Forward; A.J. Emnace, 6-0, Guard; Justin Moskowitz, 5-11, Guard

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Sherrod Nelson, So., 5-9, Guard

Owen Baker, Jr., 6-0, Guard

Jeremiah Pruitt, Jr., 6-1, Guard/Forward

Delani Hyde, Sr., 6-7, Forward

Micah Ford, Jr., 6-1, Forward


Off the Bench

Tareq Council, Jr., 6-4, Guard/Forward

Isaiah Jones, Sr., 6-0, Guard

Matt Bozicev, Sr., 6-2, Guard

Josh Moore, Jr., 5-10, Guard

Garrett Dusheck, Jr., 6-4, Forward

Devan McTaega, Jr., 6-4, Forward

Aiden Anderson, Jr., 6-2, Guard/Forward

Nick Intintola, Jr., 6-2, Guard

Matt Shea, Jr., 6-5, Forward


4. Toms River East

The past two seasons have featured an inordinate number of growing pains for Toms River East, but the Raiders may be ready to come collect this season. Toms River East is the rare varsity team that did not lose a regular contributor from the previous season and the result is a 2021-22 starting five that remains intact for the coming season, plus some real potential coming off the bench.

Dylan Russell has been Toms River East’s top all-around talent over the last two seasons, including an all-division campaign a season ago in Class A South. Jason McKelvey stepped up as a sophomore in a junior-heavy lineup a season ago and gives Toms River East a second versatile scorer to go with Russell. Seniors Soren Wilson and Jacob Mathus will be an inside-out combination and senior Manny Vargas is back to tie it all together as a third-year starter at point guard.

Junior Steven Scorsone will get major minutes off the bench and will see some crunch-time minutes as well, even in games in which he does not start. Junior Jackson Markovitch leads a group of newcomers who will be ready for the call off the bench, giving Toms River East some real depth to the roster. The Raiders are still trying to pull even with the division’s top teams in order to contend, but there was some noted progress in 2022 that will serve as a foundation upon which Toms River East can take the next step.

Toms River East junior Dylan Russell. Photo: Richard E. O'Donnell
Toms River East senior Dylan Russell. Photo: Richard E. O'Donnell

Head Coach: Tom DeRiggi, fourth season
2021-22 Record: 8-16 (2-10, sixth in Class A South)
Key Losses: None

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Manny Vargas, Sr., 5-11, Guard

Jacob Mathus, Sr., 5-10, Guard

Dylan Russell, Sr., 6-3, Forward

Jason McKelvey, Jr., 6-1, Forward

Soren Wilson, Sr. 6-3- Center


Off the Bench

Steven Scorsone, Jr., 6-0, Guard/Forward

Jackson Markovitch, Jr., 5-9, Guard

Greg Mazzo, Sr., 5-11, Forward

Jack Hesslein, Sr., 5-11, Guard


5. Southern

Coming off a memorable season in 2021 in which they made it to the final eight of the modified Shore Conference postseason, the Rams had some major production to replace last season and managed to remain very competitive in Class A South. The quality of Southern’s play did not always show in the wins and losses, but those battles with the likes of Central and Jackson Memorial should have the Rams ready to incorporate some new pieces into this year’s rotation.

Junior Caden Schubiger is the most experienced of the returning players at Southern, with Schubiger starting throughout his sophomore season. Seniors Max DiPietro and Tom Menegus also got important minutes as juniors and, along with new senior starter Pat Gaffney, will help Schubiger form the core of leadership as the season gets underway. Sophomore Justin Silva is a sophomore to watch in Ocean County and could be an x-factor in Southern making a jump up the standings this season.

With every other team returning a significant portion of their rosters from last year, Southern will have to catch up quickly with its new-look lineup, but the Rams have proven capable when it comes to competing year-in and year-out in Class A South. It won’t be the favorite, but Southern could be classified as a legitimate sleeper heading into this season.

Head Coach: John Pampalone, fourth season
2021-22 Record: 10-13 (6-6, tied for fourth in Class A South)
Key Losses:
Jaden Anthony, 6-1, Guard; Nolan Schubiger, 6-0, Guard; Nick Devane, 6-0, Guard; Josh Smith, 5-9, Guard


Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Caden Schubiger, Jr., 5-11, Guard

Pat Gaffney, Sr., 6-1, Guard

Max DiPietro, Sr., 6-2, Forward

Tom Menegus, Sr., 6-6, Forward

Justin Silva, So., 6-3, Forward


Off the Bench

Colin Van Horn, Sr., 6-6

Leo Crowley, Jr., 6-0

Andy Falleta, Sr., 6-0

Cooper Dempsey, So., 5-10


6. Toms River South

While Toms River South has a little more production returning from its 2021-22 lineup than Southern does, the Indians will have to make up ground on the rest of the division while working players into new roles. The good news for third-year coach Vin Arminio is he was able to get most of the players on this year’s roster some varsity run a year ago and the group comes into this season with the confidence to contribute in varsity games.

The next step will be the confidence to play with, and beat, some quality teams in the division schedule. Junior Jordan Jones returns as a top scoring option to aid that effort, while Easton Slack and Mazaiah Brown-Height are well-rounded returnees to play off of Jones. Juniors Rob Pierson and Kai Barckley are likely to round out the starting five, with Pierson providing some size and scoring on the interior.

The junior influence extends to the bench as well and is the foundation for a climb up the standings over the next two seasons. Toms River South should show progress during this season and winning some divisional games would make a big difference, but the big move by the Indians looks like it will be coming in 2024.

Head Coach: Vin Arminio, third season
2021-22 Record: 8-16 (1-11, seventh in Class A South)
Key Losses: Gavin Migliori, 6-0, Guard; Bobby Kukfa, 6-6, Forward; Colin Raimann, 6-1, Guard; Aidan Folsom, 6-0, Guard

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Jordan Jones, Jr., 5-9, Guard

Kai Barckley, Jr., 5-9, Guard

Easton Slack, Sr., 6-2, Guard

Mazaiah Brown-Height, Sr., 6-2, Guard

Rob Pierson, Jr., 6-4, Forward


Off the Bench

Owen Heale, Jr., 6-1, Guard

Breshawn Francis, Sr., 5-10, Guard

Jarrod Johnson, Jr., 6-3, Forward

Declan Sennick, Jr., 6-2, Forward

Mark Avendano, So., 6-1, Guard


Class A South Starting Five (With 2021-22 Stats)

Samir Padilla, Jackson Memorial (13.4 points, 3.6 steals)

Josh Michigan, Brick Memorial (15.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 48 3-pointers)

Brian Starrett, Brick Memorial (7.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.6 steals)

Respect Tyleek, Jackson Memorial (7.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 3.7 steals)

Dylan Russell, Toms River East  (9.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.8 steals)


Breakout Players to Watch

Delani Hyde, Toms River North

Justin Silva, Southern

Jason McKelvey, Toms River East

Jordan Jones, Toms River South

Owen Baker, Toms River North


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