Team to beat: St. John Vianney
Team to watch: Red Bank
Sleepers: Colts Neck, Matawan

In predicted order of finish

St. John Vianney

Head coach: Dawn Karpell, 13th season, 19th overall (377-99)
‘17-’18 Record: 25-3
Potential starting 5: Sajada Bonner (Sr. G/F 6-0); Sarah Karpell (Sr. G 5-8); Brelynn Bellamy (Sr. G/F 6-0); Rahmeena Henderson (Sr. G 5-9); Katie Hill (So. G 6-0).
Key reserves: Natalya Spinks (Sr. G 5-7); Christina Whitehead (So. G 5-10); Madison St. Rose (Fr. G 5-9); Ashely O'Connor (Fr. G 5-8); Megan Cahalan (Fr. G/F 6-2); Emma Bruen (So. G 5-7); Mikaela Drennan (Sr. G 5-4).
Strengths: Experience, pressure defense, vast offensive weaponry, hunger.

Player to watch: Sajada Bonner

Sajada Bonner (Photo by Paula Lopez)
Sajada Bonner (Photo by Paula Lopez)

An imposing figure who can relentlessly find avenues to impose her will, Bonner was a Shore Sports Network Second-Team selection as a junior. She topped the Lady Lancers in scoring (12.7 ppg.) while shooting 45.8 percent from the field. While her offensive repertoire tends to grab headlines, it's her unheralded defense that sheds light on her passionate play. The 5-11 swing is heading to Quinnipiac.

Watch 'em all: That's just how good SJV is. It all starts at the point where intellectual senior Sarah Karpell (Fordham) steers the offense with a steady hand, equal-opportunity efficiency and an eye for pressing the gas whenever possible. Senior swing Brelynn Bellamy (William & Mary) fashioned a breakout junior year best captured by her buzzer-beating 3-pointer that lifted the Lancers over St. Rose, 39-37, in the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals. And, senior guard Rahmeena Henderson, a heady, defensive catalyst, is committed to Sam Houston State.

Rahmeena Henderson (Photo by Paula Lopez)
Rahmeena Henderson (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Defense: The vibe of St. John Vianney comes from how aggressively it defends. Its signature press doesn't just induced a wealth of turnovers that are converted in blinding transition but gradually takes the legs out from under wilting opponents. Last year, SJV yielded 41.9 points a game while stinging the opposition for 64.6.

Depth: Head coach Dawn Karpell can substitute freely without concern her squad will suffer a drop off. Lengthy sophomores Katie Hill and Christina Whitehead gained invaluable experience off the bench as freshmen and continue to grow into reliable assets. Senior Natalya Spinks bolsters the backcourt and talented guard Madison St. Rose headlines a freshmen class that will have an impact.

Desire: The Lady Lancers were 24-1 entering last winter's Shore Conference Tournament championship but ended the year by dropping two of their final three contests. They bowed to Manasquan, 70-52,  in the SCT title and lost to eventual Non-Public A state champion St. Rose, 47-43, in the South Jersey sectional semifinals. This veteran group has a long memory and will be out to seek revenge this season.


Red Bank

Head coach: John Truhan, 2nd season, 20th overall (341-151)
‘17-’18 Record: 17-12
Potential starting 5: Meghan Murray (Sr. G 5-10); Chloe Teter (So. G 5-9); Amelia Medolla (So. G 5-7); Caitlyn Decker (So. G 5-5); Emma Moriarity (So. F 5-8).
Key reserves: 
Abby Bynoe (Jr. G 5-10); Mia Conti (Sr. G/F 5-9); Mia Strand (So. G 5-5); Lulu Attia (Jr. F 5-11); Molly Sauer (So. G 5-3); Maggie Jelley (So. G 5-5); Cecilia Conti (So. G 5-6); Devyn Stack (Jr. G 5-7); Brylin Barnes (Sr. G 5-8); Makayla Dawson-Daily (Jr. F 5-8); Alexis O'Connor (Fr. F 5-9).
Strengths: Speed, range, backcourt depth, length, defense.

Player to watch: Meghan Murray

Scary good as the senior guard is on the court, her best sport might be lacrosse. A pure athlete, Murray (15.3 ppg., 34 3-pointers, 4.1 rpg., 4.2 spg.) gets the most from her natural gifts. She glides to the rim off the bounce, sticks the jumper and gets after people defensively. A true testament to the definition of competitor.

Park on the arc: All it takes is one hot streak from downtown for Red Bank to put some distance between itself and an opponent. Murray, and sophomore guards Chloe Teter (6.9 ppg., 19 3-pointers) and Caitlyn Decker (9.8 ppg., 37 3-pointers) form a triple-making trifecta. It's tough enough keeping one from catching fire. When all three click, pull up a chair and enjoy the shot-making circus.

Speed limit: The Bucs may not have one. Yes, they are strong in the halfcourt, but it's in transition hatched from assertive halfcourt defense and smothering traps that springs the fast break and magnifies a serious collection of speed and execution in the open court.

Youthful experience: There's a good possibility that head coach John Truhan has four sophomores in the starting lineup when Red Bank opens Friday night at Wall. Teter, Decker (who both earned starters' minutes as freshmen), fellow guard Amelia Medolla and 5-8 forward Emma Moriarity are anticipated to join Murray for tipoff.

Colts Neck

Head coach: Steve Jannarone, 2nd season (20-8)
‘17-’18 Record: 20-8
Potential starting 5: Catherine Gibson (Sr. F 5-7); Eva Gibson (Sr. F 5-11); Teresa March (Sr. G 5-5); Camryn Foltz (Jr. G 6-0); Jessica Theising (So. G 5-3).
Key reserves: Janie Devine (Jr. G 5-4); Rachel Boliver (Jr. F 5-5); Tess Ebreo (Jr. G 5-3); Ashley Cataneo (So. G 5-5); Kiera Jacobs (So. F 5-6); Chance Gagliardi (So. F 5-9); Kaitlyn Torres (So. F 5-5).
Strengths: Experienced starting five with championship stock, cohesiveness, defense.

Player to watch: Camryn Foltz

Foltz grew into her role as a sophomore, dropping in a shade under 12 points per game. She runs the floor effortlessly, strikes balance between her shooting (26 3-pointers) and delicate drives and moves the basketball with pace and purpose in halfcourt sets. Her length is an aid harassing opposing ballhandlers who fall under the spell of her towering shadow.

Championship experience: The Cougars move into the B North on the heels of winning A North last year. Eva Gibson, a 5-11 senior forward heading to American University for track, and Foltz were staples in the starting lineup with 5-3 sophomore guard Jessica Theising, 5-7 senior forward Catherine Gibson, bound for Salisbury State, and 5-5 senior guard Teressa Marsh all comfortable in their roles thanks to prominent playing time. The cohesion of the cast should make the transition into new digs seamless.

Glass cleaners: This could be a team that will rebound by committee rather than rely on a few to work the boards. Colts Neck is a bit undersized with no one above six foot. Factor in the loss of Lauren Feaster, a beast on the boards, to graduation and it's seems likely anyone on the floor will be asked to crash down.

Good defense: Colts Neck gave up only 39.8 points a game in its man-to-man. It can't afford that number to escalate. Theising is a pestering ball hound who is timely sticking her hand in to make a steal.


Head coach: Felicia Oliver, 4th season, 15th overall (234-137)
‘17-’18 Record: 10-14
Potential starting 5: Gianna Aiello (So. F/C 6-3); Skylar Paris (So. G 5-7); Bryn Radvanski (Jr. G 5-8); Khoryn Bannis (Sr. G 5-10); Shenice Lawrence (Sr. F/C 6-0).
Key reserves: Jada Allen (Fr. F 5-11); Gabriele Moore (Sr. G 5-3); Maria Ore-Otillino (Sr. C 6-2); Haillie Pierce (Jr. C 6-0); Kaitlyn Givens (So. F 5-11); Kareena Nicholson (Sr. F 5-9); Colleen Lillis (Fr. G 5-3); Isabella Foley (Fr. G 5-6); Melina Roman (Fr. G 5-7).
Strengths: Size (and a lot of it); defense, transition offense, speed, rebounding, chemistry.

Player to watch: Khoryn Bannis

Matawan has an assortment of size and length and Bannis is the representative in the backcourt. The 5-10 senior guard (11.2 ppg.) is sleek and diverse. She can break down a defense off penetration, feed off her drives as well as she finishes and drop the occasional three-ball (19 3-pointers). Add that to her distribution, rebounding and alteration of shots when defending inside and you have a pretty impressive resume.

Towering Huskies: There are seven players 5-10 or taller on the roster, led by 6-3 sophomore Gianna Aiello (2.9 ppg.). Factor in Bannis, 6-0 senior Shenice Lawrence, 5-11 freshman Jada Allen, 6-2 senior Maria Ore-Otillino, 6-0 junior Haillie Pierce and 5-11 forward Kaitlyn Givens and Matawan has all the ingredients to control the boards.

Natural resources: Besides the wealth of height, the Huskies have good speed collectively. So, those rebounds ripped from the defensive boards can instantly turn into fast-break opportunities with smart outlets. Guards Skylar Paris and Bryn Radvanski (3.3 ppg.) will be among the facilitators to push the ball upcourt with pace.


Head coach: John Brown, 13th season (284-52)
‘17-’18 Record: 13-12
Potential starting 5: Macy Brackett (Jr. F 5-8); Sophie Yevchak (Jr. F 5-10); Autumn O’Neil (Jr. G 5-4); Ahjanae Young (Fr. G 5-4); Amaya Evans (Fr. G 5-3).
Key reserves:  Victoria Aragon (Jr. G 5-4); Aniyah Brown (So. F 5-7); Le’Ana Brown (So. G 5-7); Laila Kendle (So. F 5-7); Marchella Tino (So. G 5-5); Alena Totten (So. G 5-6).
Strengths: Open auditions for key roles, promising youth.

Player to watch: Macy Brackett

Between the graduation of Taylor Gardner and loss of leading scorer Makayla Andrews (20.9 ppg.), who transferred to St. Rose, Neptune doesn't have many players who can reflect on extensive varsity minutes. Brackett is among the few. The 5-8 junior forward was the fourth leading scorer for the Scarlet Fliers as a sophomore (4.4 ppg.) but was second in rebounds (5.7 rpg.) and blocked shots (1.4 bpg.).

Point of attack: One area where Neptune does have some firepower is in the backcourt. Junior Autumn O'Neil (16 3-pointers) and sophomore Le'Ana Brown (13 3-pointers) will get more chances to build their long-distance portfolios while sophomores Marchella Tino and Alena Totten, junior Victoria Aragon and freshmen-to-watch Ahjanae Young and Amaya Evans form a deep rotation of guards.

Never underestimate: Now in his 13th season piloting Neptune, John Brown is one of the most underrated coaches in the Shore Conference who can get every ounce of ability from his teams. The Scarlet Fliers could be a work in progress early that matures gradually along the course.


Head coach: Michael Lazur, 5th season (29-70)
‘17-’18 Record: 7-19
Potential starting 5: Morgan Bartlett (Sr. F); Sarah Dente (Sr. G); Elizabeth Appoy (Sr. G); Bette Bradley (Jr. F); Alex Ardizzone (Jr. G).
Key reserves: Madison Volek (Jr. G); Jasia Green (Sr. F); Lauren Turnbull (So. G); Cindy Cetoute (So. G); Camryn Brandow (Sr. G); Annie Flynn (Sr. F); Bella Chebookjian (Fr. F).
Strengths: Experience, familiarity, blooming confidence.

Player to watch: Morgan Bartlett

When you work as hard as the senior forward does underneath, good things are bound to happen. Barlett gives herself the best chances at clean looks and deposits, but can also withstand the physicality in the paint and cash in on frequent trips to the foul line. She netted 14 points a game in her junior year.

Potential: There's a good chance to see notable improvement from the Spartans. Senior guard Sarah Dente (6.6 ppg.), who only played the first month of her junior year, and junior forward Bette Bradley (6.6 ppg.) were contributors last season while junior guard Alex Ardizzone and senior backcourt partner Elizabeth Appoy are preprared to shoulder bigger responsibilities.

Small degree of separation: The Spartans have closed the gap on some of their nearest competition within the division. The landscape of B North is dramatically different than a year ago, yet Ocean has all the faith it can hold its own against a number of teams in the field.


Head coach: Colleen Wisher, 9th season (107-104)
‘17-’18 Record: 10-17
Potential starting 5: Nikki Russo (Jr. G 5-8); Megan White (Jr. F 5-10); Nyasia Mayes (Jr. G 5-8); Kristen Campbell (Sr. F 5-11); Abby Nonnenberg (Jr. G 5-9).
Key reserves: Lauren Lacey (Fr. G); Kristina Hotaling (So. F); Margo Iradi (So. G)
Scrappy, chemistry, unselfish

Player to watch: Nikki Russo

Cerebral and aware on the ball at both ends, Russo is a well-groomed engineer in the Crimson Knights' backcourt. The 5-8 junior can put the ball in the right hands at the right time, shoot the three and compromise a defense off the dribble. Maybe, even more important is her defense. She influences mistakes with smothering resistance and quick hands that make clean steals.

Room to define: Lauren Karabin and Tara Casuccio, Wall's top two point producers last season, have moved on to college, leaving behind vacancy in the backcourt and frontcourt, respectively. Megan White, Kristen Campbell, Nyasia Mayes and Abby Nonnenberg graduate from understudies to leading roles who have to share the scoring burden.

Nowhere to hide: This division offers no favors regardless of issues with inexperience. But, Wall can take solace in the one gift tough competition delivers. It makes you raise your game and the growth of this young team that has just one senior could unfold quickly through on-the-job training.

Middletown North

Head coach: Justin McGhee, 2nd season (15-11)
‘17-’18 Record: 15-11
Potential starting 5: Melissa Golembieski (Sr. G 5-5); Gina Palladino (Sr. F 5-8); Giana McGuaghey (Sr. G 5-6); Hayley Stratton (Jr. F 5-8); Olivia Cerbo (Jr. F 5-8).
Key reserves: Victoria Palladino (So. G 5-5); Sophia Memon (So. F 6-1); Ellie Kacen (So. G 5-6); Alyssa Siegler (Jr. G 5-6); Raven Van Bogelen (Jr. G 5-5); Ryleigh Noonan (Jr. G 5-5).
Strengths: Toughness, work rate, chemistry.

Player to watch: Melissa Golembieski

Amid a rebuilt lineup that lost its top two scorers to graduation, the 5-5 senior guard is among a handful of players with notable varsity experience that spans back to her freshman year. One of three seniors, Golembieski will be a vital touchstone to help newcomers acclimate to a rugged division.

True grit: Head coach Justin McGhee sees intangibles that could speed up the process as the Lions develop. Their toughness, work ethic and chemistry developed during the preseason could forge a bond amid a band that opens Friday against St. John Vianney, the prohibitive division favorite.

Sense of mystery: With no player averaging more than four points a game a year ago, Middletown North will spend a good deal of the early going grooming scorers. Perhaps the biggest positive from an offensive standpoint is there are plenty of openings for assertiveness.

Defense: Middletown North played it well last winter, allowing 43.5 points a game. Nothing better to form the foundation of a team than bonding defensively, a must for the Lions.

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