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Shore Conference realignment has brought change to a lot of divisions, but it’s more than just the list of teams that are changing in Class B North this season. In addition to Red Bank Catholic, Rumson-Fair Haven and Middletown South joining three teams from last year’s B North division, there are three new head coaches patrolling the sidelines and three teams that graduated at least four starters.

All that turnover has left a division that is one of the Shore’s most even from top-to-bottom, which is a function of RBC and Rumson – two teams ranked in the top five of the final 2021-22 Shore Sports Network Top 10 – each losing five starters from last year. Neither team looks ready to fall on hard times as a result, but there will almost certainly be an adjustment period for both programs that could open the door for teams that do return the majority of their 2021-22 production: Middletown South, Red Bank and Colts Neck.

In addition to evenly-matched rosters, there is very little distance between the six schools in the division, with the Red Bank, Ridge-Road (Rumson and Red Bank) and Middletown rivalries all within the division. The competition should be intense and the race close, with the teams that emerge with winning records heading into tournament time with plenty of big-game experience upon which to draw.

In predicted order of finish

1. Rumson-Fair Haven

Since he took over the program in 2009-10, Chris Champeau has made sure his Rumson-Fair Haven squad is ready to compete with the best teams on the schedule, regardless of what the roster looks like. Whether experienced or young, big or small, three things the Bulldogs have every year are numbers, shooters and hustle. This year’s squad will have to tap into all of that and more after graduating five starters from last year’s Central Jersey Group II championship team, including a First-Team All-Shore forward in Scott Gyimesi. There appears to be a wide-open race for spots in the Shore Top 10 and with or without returning players, Rumson’s expectation is to be in that group.

The lone returning regular from last season is 6-foot-3 senior Luke Mikolychak, who was a starter while Geoff Schroeder recovered from an early-season ankle injury and served as the sixth man when the Bulldogs were healthy. Mikolychak returns with a well-rounded game that should make him a reliable source of scoring and rebounding, as well as a facilitator with shooters around him. Rumson’s guards are all athletic, confident shooters who will contribute to the scoring effort, with Mason Yablonsky and Nick Rigby coming off varsity seasons a year ago to help with the transition.

Davey Carr and Luke Schorr are lined up to start on opening night as sophomores, while junior Sean Trinder will be get big minutes for the Bulldogs as well. There is not a lot of size in the mix – particularly with 6-5 senior Will Rehder injured to start the season – but Rumson can still run its five-out, pressure-filled attack. The Bulldogs will be tested by a balanced, blue-collar, division and a schedule that includes non-conference games vs. St. Peter’s Prep and Long Island Lutheran, which suggests the Bulldogs are serious about defending their sectional championship in 2023.

Head Coach: Chris Champeau, 14th season
2021-22 Record: 21-4 (9-1, tied first in Class A Central)
Key Losses:
Scott Gyimesi, 6-6, Forward; Geoff Schroeder, 6-0, Guard; Trent Sloan, 6-3, Forward; Cal Famula, 6-3, Guard; Owen Sullivan, 6-0, Guard

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Mason Yablonsky, Sr., 6-0, Guard

Luke Schorr, So., 6-1, Guard

Davey Carr, So., 6-1, Guard

Nick Rigby, Jr., 6-2, Guard

Luke Mikolychak, Sr., 6-3, Forward


Off the Bench

Sean Trinder, Jr., 6-2, Guard

Marcus Brown, Jr., 6-6, Center

Evan Keane, Jr., 6-2, Forward

Brian Carroll, Sr., 5-10, Guard

Yannis Carlston, Jr., 6-4, Forward

Leo Passalaqua, Jr., 5-9, Guard

Bear Reid, Sr., 6-2, Guard

Jack Thomas, Sr., 6-3, Forward

Noah Lazaresev, Sr., 6-0, Guard

Marco Gangemi, Sr., 6-1, Guard

Robert Lake, Jr., 6-2, Guard

Trent Stevens, Jr., 6-2, Guard

Matt Carroll, Jr., 6-5, Forward

Will Rehder, Sr., 6-5, Center

Brayden Dill, Sr., 6-1, Guard

Robert Gill, Jr., 6-1, Guard


2. Red Bank

There is real buzz surrounding Red Bank’s boys basketball program, which has a lot to do with the former girls basketball coach the school hired to take over the program. George Sourlis – the architect of the Rumson-Fair Haven girls basketball program that he led for 30 years – is now in charge of the Bucs boys after longtime coach Scott Martin stepped down at the end of last season and if Sourlis lives up to the reputation he established two-and-a-half miles east on Ridge Road, Red Bank is going to be a handful for every team on the schedule.

Red Bank’s reason for optimism in 2023 is not limited to its coach. Two returning starters and a key bench piece from the 2021-22 Class B North public co-championship team, including one of the Shore’s top scorers from a year ago. Senior Nick Valentino posted better than 19 points per game in his first varsity season, placing him eighth in the Shore Conference in per-game scoring. He will have plenty of support from versatile 6-4 classmate Collin Teter and junior point guard Braydon Kirkpatrick – a duo that brings some scoring, athleticism and experience to the court.

Jackson Ackerman, Liam Stack and sophomore Ryan Fisher are in line to absorb the minutes from the other two spots in the lineup, while freshman Matthew Crystian is ready to play a role off the bench as well. Sourlis always got a lot out of his teams at Rumson and this year’s team doesn’t need any magic to compete for a division championship and carve out a spot in the Shore Top 10. With Valentino, Teter and Kirkpatrick leading the way, Red Bank has the players to have a big season in Class B North and Central Jersey Group III.

Red Bank junior Nick Valentino. Photo: Tom Smith |
Red Bank senior Nick Valentino. (Photo: Tom Smith |

Head Coach: George Sourlis, first season
2021-22 Record: 15-11 (7-3, tied second in Class B North)
Key Losses:
Brian Tobin, 6-0, Guard; Tommy Keegan, 6-0, Guard; Patrick Murray, 6-3, Guard; Joe Caruso, 6-0, Guard; Donovan Bradley, 6-3, Center

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Braydon Kirkpatrick, Jr., 6-0, Guard

Nick Valentino, Sr., 6-1, Guard

Jameson Ackerman, Jr., 6-0, Guard

Collin Teter, Sr., 6-4, Forward

Liam Stack, Jr., 6-5, Forward/Center


Off the Bench

Ryan Fisher, So., 6-0

Matthew Crystian, Fr., 6-1

Sean Forbes, Jr., 6-0

Noah Jamieson, Jr., 6-6


3. Red Bank Catholic

When Red Bank Catholic lost a gut-wrenching game to Rutgers Prep in the South Jersey Non-Public A championship, it was only the first in a series of heartbreaks to come for the program. The Caseys were already saying goodbye to graduating starters Alex Bauman, C.J. Ruoff and Cyril Arvanitis, but then lost both their other starters – juniors Zach Meeks and Gioacchino Panzini – to transfers. Meeks, who is also a football standout, moved to Indiana and Panzini transferred to St. Rose, leaving RBC with no returning starters around which to build.

One major advantage Red Bank Catholic has in replacing all that production is that the Caseys were the Shore’s deepest team in 2021-22 and have most of their bench back. Three of RBC’s starters – Tyler Burnham, Colin Cavanaugh and sophomore Ryan Prior all played major minutes, with the 6-6 Burnham getting some starts at center as a sophomore while Meeks was hurt and both Cavanaugh and Prior hitting big shots throughout the season. Junior Luke Iasparro also saw some time as a sophomore and current sophomore Sean Saxton is set to step up as a key contributor, likely in the starting lineup.

Junior Pasquale Sabino will get minutes as one of RBC’s first players off the bench, while Central Regional transfer Luke Krykowski – a football player who will bring some more physicality to the floor. With shooting from Prior and Cavanaugh, floor-general skills from Iasparro and some size with Burnham and Co. in the front court, Red Bank Catholic has a deep and diverse roster again, but whether or not it is enough for the Caseys to play at the top of the conference remains to be seen.

Red Bank Catholic sophomore Colin Cavanaugh (Photo: Ray Rich Photography)
Red Bank Catholic junior Colin Cavanaugh (Photo: Ray Rich Photography)

Head Coach: Tyler Schmelz, seventh season
2021-22 Record: 24-5 (9-1, tied first in Class A Central)
Key Losses:
Alex Bauman, 6-5, Guard; C.J. Ruoff, 6-3, Guard; Cyril Arvanitis, 6-2, Guard; Alex Brown, 6-1, Forward; Gioacchino Panzini, Jr., 6-5, Guard (Transferred to St. Rose); Zach Meeks, Jr., 6-7, Forward (Transferred to Cathedral (In.))

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Tyler Burnham, Jr., 6-6, Center   5.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg

Ryan Prior, So., 6-4, Guard/Forward  5.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg

Colin Cavanaugh, Jr., 5-10, Guard 4.8 ppg

Luke Iasparro, Jr., 5-9, Guard

Sean Saxton, So., 6-0, Guard


Off the Bench

Pasquale Sabino, Jr., 6-3, Guard/Forward

Alec Montana, Jr., 6-1, Guard

Nick Cosimano, Sr., 6-3, Forward

Luke Kryzkowski, Jr., 6-3, Forward (Transferred from Central)

Brian Vecchio, Jr., 6-1, Forward

Kevin Frawley, Jr., 6-4, Center

James McDonald, Jr., 6-1, Guard

Daniel Zabora, Fr., 6-1, Guard/Forward


4. Middletown South

Over the last nine months, Middletown South managed to escape from the Class A North gauntlet, but with Marlboro graduating so much of its team, the Eagles might not have it any easier when it comes to winning a public division championship. Rumson-Fair Haven, Red Bank, Colts Neck and crosstown rival Middletown North now stand between Middletown South and a first-place finish in the division, and while Rumson, Middletown North and Red Bank Catholic all represent Class B North teams losing a lot of production from last year, all three will provide some resistance to the Eagles while Red Bank and Colts Neck bring back a collection of talent that will rival what the Eagles have.

As far as returning talent goes, Middletown South is well-situated to make a run this season, whether it’s in the regular-season or in tournament time. Senior point guard Dylan Csik is an all-division player coming off 15 points and three assists per game as a junior while playing in one of the more talent-rich divisions in the Shore Conference in Class A North. Csik will have a pair of returning starters by his side in senior Pat Brown and junior Owen Richer – two wing players who will help Middletown South excel on both ends of the court.

Senior Matt Sliva and 6-5 junior Will Nugent round out the projected starting lineup, while junior Ryan Denery and sophomores Brady Hahn and Luke Wafle headline a promising young bench that boasts good size and athleticism, albeit from younger, less experienced players. Middletown South’s 2021-22 team pulled off an upset over CBA, but could not keep up the level consistently. With Csik leading the way, this year’s team has a chance to finish the job in 2022-23.

Head Coach: Jimmy Cranwell, third season
2021-22 Record: 10-15 (4-8, sixth in Class A North)
Key Losses:
James Mayerhofer, 6-1, Guard; Tom Schork, 6-3, Forward; Jack Himmelberg, 6-2, Forward; Rob Powell, 6-0, Guard

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Dylan Csik, Sr., 5-9, Guard

Matt Sliva, Sr., 5-9, Guard

Pat Brown, Sr., 6-3, Guard/Forward

Owen Richter, Jr., 6-2, Guard/Forward

Will Nugent, Jr., 6-5, Forward


Off the Bench

Ryan Denery, Jr., 6-3, Guard/Forward

Brady Hahn, So., 6-3, Guard/Forward

Luke Wafle, So., 6-4, Forward

Alex Lescavage, Sr., 5-9, Guard

Carmine DeCrescenzo, Jr., 5-10, Guard


5. Colts Neck

For the first time in program history, Colts Neck will be coached by someone other than Lou Piccola – the high-school coaching legend who retired following the 2021-22 season. The program is now in the hands of Piccola’s longtime assistant, Steve Jannarone, who spent a stint as the girls basketball coach at Colts Neck in between his time as the lead assistant to Piccola. In a sense, the program will not change all that much considering Jannarone has been a prominent voice within it for most of its existence.

While some stability at Colts Neck is good, the Cougars could use a bit of a shakeup to some degree. Since losing a heartbreaker to Trenton in the 2018 Central Jersey Group IV, Colts Neck has posted five consecutive losing seasons and will have to overcome a balanced, capable Class B North field to end that winning drought in 2023. Senior Will Surdez is one of the Shore’s top returning scorers and he has been an impact contributor for Colts Neck since his freshman year. Senior Tyler Spencer and junior Mike Belcher emerged as productive players on both ends of the floor last year, with Belcher also offering some size for the Cougars lineup.

Eric Lavin adds another senior to the starting five and sophomore Volodymyr Trotsko has the potential to be a significant addition to the lineup, as well as one of the Shore’s more incredible stories. Volodymyr is 6-foot-6 Ukranian refugee who is still learning the English, but his basketball skills have landed him a tentative spot in Colts Neck’s starting five as a sophomore. Aidan Gardiner, Jake Buss and Jake Gold will also factor into the rotation as front-court options, giving Colts Neck plenty of intrigue and upside heading into the season.

Colts Neck junior Tyler Spencer. (Photo by Ray Rich Photography)
Colts Neck senior Tyler Spencer. (Photo by Ray Rich Photography)

Head Coach: Steve Jannarone, first season
2021-22 Record: 10-13 (3-7, tied fourth in Class B North)
Key Losses
Henry Shell, 6-2, Forward; Ronak Sandeep, 6-4, Forward; Spencer Bernstein, 6-0, Guard

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Tyler Spencer, Sr., 6-0 Guard 

Eric Lavin, Sr., 6-0 Guard

Will Surdez, Sr., 6-3 Guard/Forward 

Mike Belcher, Jr., 6-3 Guard/Forward

Volodymyr Trotsko, So., 6-6, Forward (Transfer from Ukraine)


Off the Bench

Aidan Gardiner, Sr., 6-3, Forward

Jake Gold, Sr., 6-4, Forward

Fortunato Roberts, Sr., 6-1, Guard

Jake Buss, Jr., 6-5, Forward

Dom Beninato, Jr., 5-10, Guard

Bryce Belcher, So., 5-11, Guard


6. Middletown North

The third of the three Class B North teams with a new head coach, Middletown North welcomes back Eric Youncofski – an alumnus who was the point guard of the Lions the last time the program was ranked No. 1 in the Shore Conference back in 2011. Since his days running the show on the floor at Middletown North, Youncofski was a walk-on at Rhode Island and then joined the staff with his former coach Dan Hurley both at Rhode Island and UConn. Now, he is tasked with rebuilding Middletown North into a Shore Conference contender – a challenge considering the production the Lions will have to replace from a year ago.

Injuries slowed Middletown North last season, but the Lions had enough seniors to cover some of the available minutes. While that might have helped the 2021-22 team, it leaves this year’s team short on experience. Senior point guard Mac Colantino is the lone returning starter and with Youncofski at his disposal, he is primed for a big season. Colantino will need some help, though, and junior Luke Sheehan will be one option after he got some time as a sophomore last year. Senior Connor Down will be in the front court as well, while junior Jason Quardt joins Colantino in the back court.

Colin Byrne will represent the underclassmen in the starting five, with fellow sophomore Ryan Barnao coming off the bench. There is enough youth on hand that Youncofski can put his fingerprints on this group over the next several years. If he can get the younger players up and running quickly, Youncofski has a point guard in place that can lead a good team right now.

Head Coach: Eric Youncofski, first season
2021-22 Record: 10-12 (7-3, tied second in Class B North)
Key Losses:
Matt Kenny, 6-0, Guard; Tommy Giannone, 6-6, Forward; Zac Searight, 6-5, Forward; Lucas Cerbo, 5-10, Guard; Brian Haddow, 5-10, Guard; Colin Devine, 6-1, Forward

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Mac Colantino, Sr., 5-10, Guard 

Jason Quardt, Jr., 5-8, Guard

Connor Down, Sr., 6-1, Center

Luke Sheehan, Jr., 6-1, Forward

Colin Byrne, So., 6-1, Forward


Off the Bench

Cam Hickey, Sr.

Jack Walsh, Jr.

Joe Berenger, Jr.

Ryan Barnao, So.


Class A Central Starting Five (With 2021 Stats)

Dylan Csik, Middletown South (14.8 points, 2.9 assists, 1.9 steals)

Nick Valentino, Red Bank (19.2 points, 5.5 rebounds)

Will Surdez, Colts Neck (16.5 points, 6.9 rebounds)

Collin Teter, Red Bank (8.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 35 3-pointers)

Ryan Prior, Red Bank Catholic (5.3 points, 2.8 rebounds)


Breakout Players to Watch

Luke Mikolychak, Rumson-Fair Haven

Braydon Kirkpatrick, Red Bank

Luke Schorr, Rumson-Fair Haven

Colin Cavanaugh, Red Bank Catholic

Mac Colantino, Middletown North


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