There are only two Shore 16 rankings left to unveil: the one that follows these words, followed by the final rankings of the season. At the risk of playing spoiler and ending the drama, the 16 teams in this week’s edition are extremely likely to be the teams in the final rankings. With being said, there are five teams from the Shore that are not ranked, but are still playing in the NJSIAA Tournament, so there are still some spoilers out there.

As for the order of the rankings, No. 1 is now set for the season, if it wasn’t set a long time ago. Manasquan is a strong No. 2, but 2 there remain some scenarios that could push some other team to that spot. Outside of that, there is enough basketball still left that the rankings could look much different when all is said and done on March 11.


1. St. Rose (25-2, 11-0) Previous Rank: 1

The only question left for St. Ros is will the Purple Roses finish No. 1 in the state. Even if St. Rose cruises to a Non-Public B championship, there may be some pressure to rank Don Bosco No. 1 if the Ironmen win the Non-Public A championship because of how much harder the road to a championship would be, but on the season-long body of work, St. Rose has done what it needs to do to this point. It just has to finish the job.

2. Manasquan (20-6, 9-2) Previous Rank: 2

St. Rose prevented Manasquan from winning a fourth Shore Conference championship in five years, but playing the Purple Roses twice should serve as great preparation to deal with the best in Group II as the Warriors try to repeat as state champions.

3. Holmdel (20-3, 9-2) Previous Rank: 3

Holmdel’s only losses are to St. Rose and the Manasquan twice, but none of them were close. If the Hornets make it to the Central Jersey Group II semifinals and play Rumson, that will, essentially be their chance to cement the No. 3 ranking.

4. Central (21-4, 11-0) Previous Rank: 4

The Golden Eagles have looked sharp since losing to Holmdel in the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals, which says a lot about how they are wired. Sometimes, ending a long winning streak – which was 15 games heading into the Holmdel loss – can re-center a team and the early indications are that Central is locked in on making a run at a state title in Group IV.

5. Christian Brothers Academy (17-6, 9-1) Previous Rank: 5

Although they got the No. 1 seed in South Jersey Non-Public A, the Colts’ road to a championship is set up to be very difficult. Camden Catholic is a talented No. 9 seed heading to Lincroft on Monday and if CBA survives that, Paul VI would likely be the next opponent. As the No. 1 seed, though, CBA at least enjoys the perk of hosting up until the final.

6. Toms River North (20-7, 9-2) Previous Rank: 6

The benefit of playing in Group IV is for a team like Toms River North, there is a chance to beat good teams and climb the rankings. The Mariners have beaten two of the teams ranked ahead of them and if they were to put together a run to a Group IV championship, that could lead to a climb to No. 2 in these rankings. That could be true of other teams in the state tournament, but the Mariners might have a realistic shot to do it based on how deep and athletic they are as a roster.

7. Rumson-Fair Haven (18-6, 8-2) Previous Rank: 7

Rumson may not have the state-championship upside that Toms River North has, but the Bulldogs will be playing the right teams in order to have a shot to climb in the rankings. A trip to the Central Group II semifinals would likely mean a trip to Holmdel to play the No. 3 team in the SSN rankings and a win there win likely give Rumson a shot at Manasquan and a claim to the No. 2 spot in the rankings.

8. Red Bank (19-4, 9-1) Previous Rank: 8

While Central looks like a team that bounced back quickly from its SCT upset loss, Red Bank’s response to its loss to Howell in the SCT round of 16 is still yet to be determined. The Bucs beat Brick Memorial by 10, then Ocean by 13, which are adequate-if-unspectacular results. Red Bank’s stated goal is to end it 31-year sectional championship drought as that goal will be on the line every game from here on out. Whatever happened over the last three weeks doesn’t matter now: everything is in front of the Bucs.

9. Red Bank Catholic (15-12, 5-5) Previous Rank: 9

RBC has played a loaded schedule this season and while that is the main reason why the Caseys have so many losses compared to other ranked teams, it is also why they should be as ready as they can be for what will be a treacherous road to a sectional final. It starts with Rutgers Prep on Monday and if the Caseys pull off a road upset, they would likely earn a trip to play defending Non-Public A champion Union Catholic.

10. Marlboro (16-8, 4-6) Previous Rank: 13

A win over Central on opening night has been carrying Marlboro’s Shore 16 résumé for most of the season, but the Mustangs climb back into the top 10 with wins over Manalapan and Freehold Boro after the SCT. It also doesn’t hurt that after Marlboro beat Barnegat in the SCT first round, Barnegat beat Timber Creek on the road in the South Jersey Group II first round.

11. Freehold Boro (20-7, 7-4) Previous Rank: 14

The Colonials joined the 20-win club last week with its first state-tournament win of 13 years and on the way to 20 wins, Freehold Boro beat Donovan Catholic and Shore Regional – two teams ranked in last week’s rankings. Of Freehold’s seven losses, five are to top 10 teams: two to St. Rose and one each to Manasquan, Holmdel and Marlboro. A sectional championship is not out of the realm of possibility for Freehold Boro in Central Jersey Group III and such an accomplishment should easily boost the Colonials into the top 10.

12. Shore (18-8, 8-2) Previous Rank: 15

The Blue Devils look poised to reach the Central Group I semifinals, where they will be an ultimate underdog against Group I favorite College Achieve. The Blue Devils are senior-heavy, battle-tested and would be at home in that game, so don’t count them out of the tournament just yet. As it stands, they have wins over Colts Neck and Manalapan to not only keep them in the Shore 16, but land Shore at its highest spot in the rankings this season.

13. Manalapan (16-10, 5-5) Previous Rank: 10

The Braves are set up well to make a run to the Central Group IV championship after beating Middletown South in round one last week. The bracket does not give the Braves a lot of chances to shoot up these rankings, but with wins over the three teams ranked behind them this week, they are pretty much locked into a ranking of some kind to end the season, regardless of what happens against Jackson Memorial on Monday and beyond.

14. Colts Neck (17-8, 6-4) Previous Rank: 16

Although Colts Neck has a loss to Manalapan, the Cougars might have a better chance to climb the final rankings because their road to the final in Central Jersey Group III could very well include Red Bank – a team currently ranked in the top 10. Colts Neck has the ingredients to win the section with a strong finish, which would give the Cougars a real top-10 case – especially considering they already have wins over Marlboro and Red Bank Catholic.

15. Donovan Catholic (18-9, 10-0) Previous Rank: 11

The Griffins are the first team to appear in this week’s rankings whose season is over after the Griffins lost a competitive game to St. Augustine in the first round of an unforgiving South Jersey Non-Public A section. Donovan Catholic beat Shore to win the Class B Central division, which gives the Griffins a chance to jump the Blue Devils in the final rankings if things fall in their favor.

16. Howell (17-11, 5-5) Previous Rank: 12

After suffering a heartbreaking loss in the first-round of the NJSIAA Tournament, the Rebels drop to the last spot in the rankings. That loss was their second of the season to unranked Jackson Memorial, which is 0-5 vs. the rest of the Shore 16. Howell still boasts wins over Red Bank, Red Bank Catholic and Marlboro, so when the final rankings come out, the Rebels are very likely to be in them and could even inch up a few spots.

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