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CLASS B NORTH PREVIEW

Defending champion: St. John Vianney

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

Pre-Season All-Division Team

Madison St. Rose, St. John Vianney
Camryn Foltz, Colts Neck
Katie Hill, St. John Vianney
Caitlin Decker, Red Bank
Macy Brackett, Neptune

ST. JOHN VIANNEY LADY LANCERS

Head coach: Dawn Karpell, 14th season (19th overall), (400-103)
‘18-’19 Record: 23-4 (14-0 in B North), B North champion
Potential starting 5: Madison St. Rose (So. G 5-9); Katie Hill (Jr. G 5-11); Christina Whitehead (Jr. G 5-9); Megan Cahalan (So. F/C 6-2); Emma Bruen (Jr. G 5-7).
Key reserves: Ashley O’Connor (So. G 5-7); Mikaela Drennan (Jr. G 5-4); Paige Knutsen (So. G 5-11); Sianna Bradley (Jr. F 5-10); Ciera Cevallos (Fr. G 5-6); Ashley Sofilkanich (Fr. F 6-1); Mikaela Hubbard (Fr. F 5-10); Janey Bachmann (Fr. G 5-10); Breana Delaney (Fr. G, 5-8).
Key losses: Sarah Karpell, Sajada Bonner, Brelynn Bellamy, Rahmena Henderson.
Strengths: Size, balance, depth, competitive.

Player to watch: Madison St. Rose

Madison St. Rose of St. John Vianney (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Insulated by the four seniors who generally surronded her on the floor last year, St. Rose (9.2 ppg.) was nurtured into a highly-integral role within the Lady Lancers' scheme. Smooth and electric, the gliding 5-9 guard was often forgotten by opposing defenses that spent more time defending her more accomplished teammates. That eventually changed over the course of the season thanks to demanding respect through action. St. Rose is elusive en route to the tin and underrated for her perimeter touch (15 3-pointers). She can spring to compete on the glass and pick a pocket clean on defense to ignite the break.

Beware of...Katie Hill

Katie Hill of St. John Vianney (Photo by Paula Lopez)

A piece of the SJV puzzle since she was a freshman, Hill finds her ways to make contributions. She can bury a three (36 3-pointers), wiggle inside through penetration, crispy move the basketball out high, rebound and defend. where her length and lateral movement denies her counterpart space to veer inside.

By the numbers: 973

No worries on the defensive side. The Lady Lancers, regardless of whose on the floor, have that engrained into their internal hard drive as the top priority. What has to be tapped is the offensive genius within each component as SJV tries to compensate for the heavy load of scoring that departed with the Class of '19, which accounted for nearly 1,000 of the 1,669 points scored a year ago.

Something's missing

You got that right. For the first time since....forever?...the Lady Lancers will embark with not one senior on the varsity roster. That doesn't mean they lack big-game experience. St. Rose, Hill, Christina Whitehead, Emma Bruen, Megan Cahalan, Mikaela Drennan and Ashley O'Connor all have played under the bright lights of meaningful games. This squad won't be unnerved.

COLTS NECK COUGARS

Head coach: Steve Jannarone, 3rd season (40-18)
‘18-’19 Record: 20-8 (11-3 in B North)
Potential starting 5: Camryn Foltz (Sr. G 6-0); Jessica Thesing (Jr. G 5-4); Chance Gagliardi (Jr. F 5-10); Rachel Boliver (Sr. F 5-8); Ashley Cataneo (Jr. G 5-6).
Key reserves: Kierra Jacobs (Jr. G/F 5-5); Kaitlyn Torres (Jr. G 5-6); Meg Smith (Jr. F 5-8); Madison Hunt (So. G 5-5); Taryn Jacobs (So. F 5-10); Mary Huegel (So. F 5-10); Izzy Marcinkiewicz (So. G 5-4); Madison McTigue (So. G/F 5-6).
Key losses: Catherine Gibson, Eva Gibson, Teresa Marsh. 

Strengths: Go-to player, defense, versatility.
College commitments: Camryn Foltz (Dartmouth)

Player to watch: Camryn Foltz

Camryn Foltz of Colts Neck (Photo by Paula Lopez)

A central figure for the Cougars since her sophomore year, Foltz (15.8 ppg.) continues to get better with age. Her innate sense of when to put it on the floor and when to pull up behind the arc (24 3-pointers) makes her unpredictable to contain. The 6-0 Dartmouth recruit can take smaller defenders into the paint, release a jumper above their protests and beat bigger obstacles with a quick first step to the hoop. She sees the floor with exceptional vision and lends an appreciated hand on the boards. Foltz is 204 points shy of 1,000.

Beware of…: Jessica Thesing

Thesing is the glue, holding the offense together with her direction and adhesively sticking to whoever she is assigned to guard. Not a shoot-first point guard, Thesing's top priority is to get everyone comfortable in the flow of play, yet, leave her alone and she'll glady show a defender what she has in her scoring bag. Opposing guards, take this as a warning: This is not the defender you want to see match up with you on the opening possession. 

By the numbers: 38.5

Colts Neck's man-to-man is unforgiving, as the 38.5 points per game it allowed last year verifies. The Cougars present a road block for teams who like to run and play at a meticulous pace with a poise and purpose. Any turnovers they can induce are generally translated into points at the opposite end and in brisk fashion.

Chane to shine

Pay close attention to Chance Gagliardi. The 5-9 junior forward hinted at what she's capable of off the wings, stinging Long Branch for a season-high 16 points in a 61-37 victory in the preliminary round of the Shore Conference Tournament. Colts Neck is counting on her to make that type of showing a regular occurance and need her to in order to deflect added attention off Foltz.

Reinvention

The Cougars benefitted greatly from the size and versatility offered by twins Eva and Catherine Gibson. Filling their voids, as well as that of guard Teresa Marsh won't be easy. However, it stirs competition for those vying to earn those vacancies and may give Colts Neck a different look, one more so steeped it playing quick.

RED BANK BUCCANEERS

Head coach: John Truhan, 21st season (361-159)
‘18-’19 Record: 20-9 (9-5 in B North)
Potential starting 5: Chloe Teter (Jr. G 5-9); Caitlyn Decker (Jr. G 5-5); Amelia Medolla (Jr. G 5-7); Taylor Crystian (Sr. G 5-7); Emma Moriarity (Jr. F 5-8).
Key reserves: Mia Strand (Jr. G); Lulu Attia (Sr. F).
Key losses: Meghan Murray.
Strengths: Speed, range, high energy, defense.

Player to watch: Chloe Teter

Chloe Teter of Red Bank (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Nothing teeters on offense when the ball is in the hands of the junior guard. Teter (10.1 ppg., 4.2 rpg., 2.6 spg.) is a polished playmaker in tune with every teammate on the court, but good see less time actually on the ball as her role shifts to more of a shooting guard. However, if the Bucs need a secondary handle, she can steer the ball with the idea that every pass is the best to gain the desired outcome. Teter embodies many of the virtues that define a floor leader and sets the tone for the Bucs and may be their top 3-point threat (23 3-pointers).

Beware of…: Caityln Decker

A talented athlete in tip-top condition, the junior guard (10.9 ppg., 4.8 apg., 3.6 spg.) taxes opponents with the pace and energy she sustains from the opening tap to the final horn. If you think trying to slow her offensive game is a pain, wait until you have to try and lose her on the defensive end.

By the numbers: 15.9

Red Bank has to find ways to make up for the nearly 16 points per game contributed by '19 graduate Meghan Murray. Junior guard Amelia Medolla will be a likely candidate to accept some of that scoring load as well as be the primary distributor. Over the final 19 games of her sophomore year, Medolla clicked for 6.4 poings and knocked down 17 threes. She knows how to find a shot.

Pick 'em up in the parking lot

Opponents, brace yourselves. Red Bank is going to have an arsenal of long-range shooters who might not know their boundaries. The Bucs are a team full of high-energy components who will run the floor like deer in transition but if you think slowing them into halfcourt sets will earn the chance to catch your breath...forget about it. The ball moves fast when Red Bank slips into it sets and shooters will be flashing at every corner to strike from long range.

MIDDLETOWN NORTH LIONS

Head coach: Justin McGhee (3rd season, 29-25)
‘18-’19 Record: 14-14, (9-5 in B North)
Potential starting 5: Ronnie Brucato (So. G 5-4); Victoria Palladino (Jr. G 5-4); Hayley Stratton (Sr. G 5-8); Olivia Cerbo (Sr. G 5-8); Sophia Memon (Jr. F 6-1).
Key reserves: Patty Walsh (So. F 6-0); Ellie Kacen (Jr. G 5-5); Kaitlin Dowd (Sr. G 5-8); Alexa Fernandez (So. G 5-8); Alyssa Siegler (Sr. G 5-6).
Key losses: Melissa Golembieski, Gina Palladino, Giana McGuaghey.

Strengths: Depth, athleticism, experience.

Player to watch: Hayley Stratton

Stratton (7.8 ppg.) quietly built confidence in her offensive repertoire over the course of her junior year, sprinkling in the occasional 3-pointer to offset her forays through the lane, which also earned her plenty of trips to the foul line. Her workload will most likely escalate this season and, rest assured, she is primed to carry it. She scored in double figures five times over the final nine games last winter and peaked in the post-season. Stratton matched her season high with 14 points in a 40-23 victory over Burlington Twp. in the first round of the Central Jersey, Group 3 tournament and backed that with 13 during a 42-36 loss at the hands of Colts Neck in the the quarterfinals.. 

Beware of...: The backcourt. 

The Lions will seek a floor leader who can point the offense in the right direction, set a defensive tone and do both with poise and purpose. Victoria Palladino and Olivia Cerbo have the tools to address those needs. Each saw ample minutes as juniors, experienced the intensity of the post-season and can apply what they reaped in a manner suitable to Middletown North’s demands.

By the numbers: 6-1

At that height, junior forward Sophia Memon, an unsung commodity, represents what little notable size the Lions will have on the floor. She maximizes her qualities in a variety of ways, finishing on the blocks, clearing the boards and altering shots, be it with a block or her simple defensive span that deters undersized guards from challenging her shadowing reach in the lane. 

Play at both ends: Expect the Lions to defend with zeal, something they did last winter when they allowed 42.3 points per game and conceding more than 50 just six times. The key will reside on the offensive end, where an identity has to be carved and scoring inclusion stressed to get all involved.

NEPTUNE SCARLET FLIERS

Head coach: John Brown, 14th season (294-65)
‘18-’19 Record: 10-13 (6-8 in B North)
Potential starting 5: Ahjanae Young (So. G 5-4); Amaya Evans (So. G 5-3); Macy Brackett (Sr. F, 5-8); Sophie Yevchak (Sr. F 5-10); Kayla Patrick (Fr. F 5-6).
Key reserves: Jayden Foster (Fr. C 6-0).
Key losses: None.
Strengths: Speed, balance, backcourt, pressure.
College commitments: Sophie Yevchak (Marymount).

Player to watch: Macy Brackett

Macy Brackett of Neptune (Photo by Paula Lopez)

The 5-8 senior forward (14.3 ppg.) gives Neptune so many different contributions, especially around the basket. In transition, she can lead the break as an outlet or push it on the ball, break down a defense off the dribble and crash the offensive glass for stickbacks. Her work rate on the boards is ceaseless (10.5) making her a double-double machine who notched 10 as a junior. But, it doesn't stop there. Brackett is all over the floor in the defensive halfcourt, rejecting shots and intruding passing lanes. She'll be the beacon for Neptune.

Beware of…: Ahjanae Young and Amaya Evans

Ahjanae Young of Neptune (Photo by Paula Lopez)

The backcourt tandem burst on the scene as freshmem and complement each other so well. Both can beat a defender off the dribble and finish what they start, be it on a penetrating drive or off a turnover they force. Neither is bashful about sharing the basketball and Evans (11.7 ppg.) brings the added dimension of shooting range, which delivered 23 3-pointers. Young (11.7 ppg.) is routinely challenging on the defensive glass.

Amaya Evans of Neptune (Photo by Paula Lopez)

By the numbers: 6

Head coach John Brown sits six wins shy of 300 for his illustrious career, one that includes a Tournament of Champions title in 2010, two state championships and three Shore Conference Tournament crowns.

Power up

Neptune rarely had the chance to play at full strength in '18-'19 due to injuries that depleted a lineup short on experience and depth. Brackett missed three contests mid-season and Young sat six, including three that coincided with Brackett's absence. At full strength and tuned to race at their favorable electric pace, the Scarlet Fliers have the look of a team ready to make a move.

Retention

Neptune returns virtually intact from a year ago...and healthy. Brown has had a full year to bestow his tutelage upon a team ready to rise. He'd love to instill some old Neptune virtues, like relentless defensive pressure, but depth may persuade him to pick his spots in that regard, at least in the early stages of the season. The Scarlet Fliers will press the pedal to the medal on offense to make the most of their speed and ability to fill lanes in transition. Evans, Young and Bracket have an affinity for attacking the basket at a brisk pace and don't forget about 5-10 senior forward Sophie Yevchak, a Marymount commit whose stock is rising.

OCEAN TWP. SPARTANS

Head coach: Mike Lazur, 6th season (38-85)
‘18-’19 Record: 9-18 (4-10 in B North)
Potential starting 5: Bette Bradley (Sr. F 5-11); Le’Ana Brown (Jr. G 5-8); Lauren Turnbull (Jr. G 5-6); Cindy Cetoute (Jr. F 5-9); Bella Chebookjian (So. F 5-10).
Key reserves: Lila Trench (Jr. F 5-11); Krista Pustrom (Jr. G 5-6); Delaney Moskowitz (Jr. G 5-4).
Key losses: Morgan Bartlett, Sarah Dente, Jasia Green.

Strengths: Size, effort.

Player to watch: Bette Bradley

Bradley was a fixture in the lineup as a junior, netting 8.6 points per game to go with five boards a night. The 5-11 forward will be a big part of a frontcourt that has some height and may be the Spartans' area of strength.

Beware of…: On the rebound

The Spartans boast enough decent size that they can become a group noted for cleaning the glass. That trait could bode particularly well on the offensive end in terms of prolonging possessions, controlling the clock and creating better scoring options on the second go round. Bradley, along with 5-11 junior Lila Trench and 5-10 sophomore Bella Chebookjian, can form a rebound-by-committee.

By the numbers: 5

Ocean has five players that measure 5-8 or better, giving it some good size to limit teams to one-and-dones on the defensive side. How well 5-8 junior Le'Ana Brown, 5-6 junior Lauren Turnbull and 5-9 swing Cindy Cetoute integrate into the formula on the offensive could determine the success of the offense. 

MATAWAN HUSKIES

Head coach: Felicia Oliver, 5th season (30-65), 16th overall (240-155)
‘18-’19 Record: 6-18 (3-11 in B North)
Potential starting 5: Bryn Radvanski (Sr. G 5-8); Gianna Aiello (Jr. F/C 6-4); Skylar Parris (Jr. G 5-7); Jada Allen (So. G/F 5-11); Colleen Lillis (So. G).
Key reserves: Kaitlyn Givens (Jr. F 5-10).
Key losses: Khoryn Bannis.

Strengths: Defense, size, rebounding.
College commitments: Bryn Radvanski (Winthrop for soccer).

Player to watch: Gianna Aiello

As a 6-3 sophomore, Aiello flexed her muscle on the boards, pulling down 11.2 a game. In the lane, she practically dares smaller intruders to test their luck in putting up a shot over her reach. She showed promising signs on offense (6.2 ppg.), notably dropping in 19 points to go with 20 rebounds in a 58-48 win over Robbinsville.

Beware of…: Skylar Parris

The 5-7 guard is the Huskies' top returning scorer (6.7 ppg.) but appears ready to see a spike in that number. There will be ample opportunities based on the departure of Khoryn Bannis to graduation and presences of Aiello and 5-11 sophomore forward Jada Allen on the blocks. If defenses sag to congest the post, Paris can seize the chance to stick a mid-range jumper or bury the occasional three-ball.

By the numbers: 51.6

That's what Matawan conceded on defense a year ago. Coach Felicia Oliver notes that end of the floor has shown improvement, a neccesity if Matawan seeks to climb the divisional ranks.

Score the basketball

Bannis had no problem doing that in her senior year, netting 13.7 a game. Now, Matawan must face the task of replacing her output and can do so not by leaning on an individual but promoting the concept that everyone pose a threat to deposit buckets.

WALL CRIMSON KNIGHTS

Head coach: Colleen Wisher, 10th season (110-124)
‘18-’19 Record: 3-20 (0-14 in B North)
Potential starting 5: Nikki Russo (Sr. G); Abby Nonnenberg (Sr. F); Lauren Lacey (So. G); Megan White (Sr. F); Jordan Cheche (Sr. F).
Key reserves: Alexis Nerenberg (Jr. G); Margo Iradi (Jr. G); Izzy Casais (Jr. G); Paris Thops (So. G/F); Anna Richel (Fr. G); McKenna Nocera (So. G); Marielle Bersalona (Fr. G).
Key losses: Kristen Campbell.
College commitments: Abby Nonnenberg (Cornell for track and field)

Strengths: Athletic, quick, balanced, anxious.

Player to watch: Nikki Russo

Nikki Russo of Wall (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Russo (8.9 ppg.) has quietly been a staple for Wall since her freshman year, gradually seeing an increase in her role. As a junior, she bloomed into a more versatile scorer, capable of finishing a drive or sticking a three. She popped for 22 points, including three treys, in a 61-50 loss to Howell. Russo also led the team in steals last season.

Beware of…: Abby Nonnenberg

Abby Nonnenberg of Wall (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Nonnenberg forms a tight partnership with Russo in the Crimson Knights' backcourt. While the latter has a more noted perimeter game, Nonnenberg is inclined to test the waters inside the arc, depositing layups or earning trips to the foul line. Together, the duo could set the pace and direction of the offense.

By the numbers: 18.5

There was a huge disparity between what Wall got (38.4 ppg.) and what it allowed (56.9 ppg.) last season, a gap that must be closed. One way it can do so is by asserting itself on the glass. Megan White and Jordan Cheche, who returns to the hardwood for the first time since her freshman year, will do their best to make that happen and can count on an assist from Nonnenberg, who topped Wall in rebounds.

Follow Gregg Lerner on Twitter @gregglerner. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.

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