Boys Basketball – SSN Top 10, Jan. 20
New week, same story: the first four teams in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 are well ahead of the field, there is a clear-cut No. 5 team, and the rest of the picture changes by the day. Even within the top four, the only potential movement is Middletown South jumping Toms River North for the No. 2 seed – Marlboro has lost twice to Middletown South and once to Toms River North, while Manasquan handled both Toms River North and Middletown South.
The remainder of the year could see a number of teams take a turn in spots Nos. 6 through 10 but with each passing week, there won’t be many surprises at the top.
1. Manasquan (13-1, 6-0) Last Week: 1
Another week, another chance to sing the praises of a Warriors team that really hasn’t missed a beat without Alex Galvan – a Player of the Year front-runner. After nearly stunning Roselle Catholic last Saturday, Manasquan handled state-ranked No. 18 St. Peter’s Prep by 21 points, not only with Galvan out but with second-leading scorer Ben Roy scoring only five points. Looking at the schedule and the two tournament fields in which they will reside, it’s hard to see the Warriors losing before the NJSIAA Group II Final, at the earliest.
2. Toms River North (11-2, 6-0) Last Week: 2
The Mariners made easy work of another top 10 team when they stormed by Wall at Saturday’s Coaches vs. Cancer Showcase at Southern. Pair that with a win over Marlboro and throw in the incomparable 66-game division win streak in A South and Toms River North stills holds an edge over Middletown South for the No. 2 spot – at least for another week.
3. Middletown South (11-1, 6-0) Last Week: 3
Just one win away from completing an unbeaten first trip through the Class A North schedule, Middletown South is intensifying its push for the No. 2 spot in the Shore Conference. If the A North wins keep coming, Toms River North would be hard-pressed to hold on to the No. 2 spot. Middletown South faces a tough week with Freehold Township and Manalapan on tap.
4. Marlboro (9-3, 5-1) Last Week: 4
Marlboro had to beat a pair of quality teams this week without sophomore Jon Spatola in the lineup and still managed to get past both Freehold Township and Neptune. After wrapping up the first turn through A North Tuesday vs. Howell, the Mustangs will get a crack at sweeping the season series with CBA on Thursday.
5. Holmdel (9-2, 5-1) Last Week: 5
Holmdel’s top-five spot got put to the test last week in a close game vs. Rumson-Fair Haven in Holmdel and it figures to be challenged again by Red Bank Catholic on Tuesday. With their only losses coming against Carteret and Manasquan, the Hornets remain a clear No. 5, but it won’t be a comfortable No. 5 with a number of teams breathing down their neck and some quality teams on the schedule.
6. Manalapan (6-3, 4-2) Last Week: 9
After earning a spot in the rankings for the first time in five years, Manalapan nearly gave it away by just barely beating two-win Freehold Boro to open up last week. The Braves then bounced back with an impressive defensive performance in a win over CBA to stay within sight of first place in Class A North. Manalapan will have a chance to make the race a lot more interesting on Friday, when the Braves play host to Middletown South.
7. Matawan (7-4, 6-0) Last Week: Not ranked
Heading into a huge home date with Wall on Tuesday, the Huskies move into the Top 10 for the first time this season and jump the Crimson Knights heading into their first of two meetings this year. Matawan is an experienced team that appears to be improving with every week, which is a welcome sign for a team that may have peaked too early in each of the past two seasons. The Huskies had a rough week at the Husky Classic that resulted in two of their losses (Union and Manalapan) and a runaway fourth quarter by Middletown South cost them their third loss.
8. Red Bank Catholic (7-4, 3-3) Last Week: 7
Five days after impressively dismantling Wall, Red Bank Catholic had no answers against Manasquan. Senior Kevin Bauman missed the week while playing in the Polynesian Bowl in Hawaii but multiple Kevin Bauman’s likely would not have beaten Manasquan in that game. RBC has a couple losses to unranked teams (St. Rose and Rumson) but the Wall win is enough, for now, to keep the Caseys in.
9. Wall (8-4, 6-0) Last Week: 8
Wall had a chance to make a big jump if it could have beaten Toms River North on Saturday and the Crimson Knights just could not come up with an answer for Najae Hallenbeck. That now leaves Wall with no-division losses to Toms River North, Irvington, Red Bank Catholic and Marlboro, with wins over Toms River South and Donovan Catholic. The unbeaten division record is impressive, but that is all Wall currently has going for it at the moment.
10. St. John Vianney (9-3, 4-2) Last Week: Not ranked
Since Shore Sports Network ventured into ranking the Top 10, the Lancers have never broken into the first 10 until this week. They got disheartening news that senior point guard Kevin Greene would miss the remainder of the season due to injury but still put together a 3-0 week that included a win at Neptune. The wins are more solid than spectacular, but the Lancers’ losses are to quality opponents – all, Matawan and Franklin – in competitive games.
Christian Brothers Academy (5-8, 2-4) Last Week: 6 – Although CBA got a nice win over Mater Dei to cap the week, losses to Freehold Township and Manalapan were the last straw in moving the Colts out.
Barnegat (8-2, 4-2) Last Week: 10 – The Bengals suffered their first two losses of the season, falling two games behind Point Boro for the Class B South lead.
Top 10 Watch List
Neptune (6-6, 3-3) – Although only .500, Neptune has either won or been competitive against a solid schedule since getting blown out in its first two games of the season.
Rumson-Fair Haven (7-3, 4-2) – The Bulldogs fell just short of wins against Neptune and Holmdel, either or which would have bumped them into the Top 10.
Freehold Township (7-5, 4-2) – The junior-heavy Patriots are coming along and a win over a similarly-young CBA last week suggests they are on the right trajectory.
Mater Dei Prep (7-4, 5-0) – The Seraphs missed a chance to jump into the top 10 by losing to CBA but can take a significant step toward a B Central title Monday if they can win at Ranney.
Ranney (6-5, 5-0) – The Panthers will have Kyle Rhoden eligible this week and need to take advantage by beating Mater Dei on Monday. The alternative could be a road game in the first round of the SCT.
Point Boro (8-2, 6-0) – The Panthers had two potential returnees leave the program before the season, missed senior Sam Young for a brief stint, and yet their only losses this year are to Toms River North and Freehold Township.