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CLASS B SOUTH PREVIEW

Defending champion: Manchester

Team to beat: Manchester
Team to watch: Donovan Catholic
Sleepers: Point Pleasant Boro
Pre-Season Player of the Year: Destiny Adams, Manchester

Pre-Season All-Divison Team

Kemari Reynolds, Manchester
Destiny Adams, Manchester
Angelica Velez, Manchester
Jordyn Keating, Donovan Catholic
Maura Carney, Jackson Liberty

MANCHESTER HAWKS

Head coach: Dave Beauchemin, 9th season (135-86)
‘18-’19 Record: 32-3 (14-0 in B South) B South champion, Shore Conference Tournament champion, Group 2 state champion, Tournament of Champions semifinalist.
Potential starting 5: Kemari Reynolds (Sr. G 5-8); Serenity Anderson (Sr. G 5-9); Destiny Adams (Jr. F 6-3); Gabriella Ross (Fr. G 5-7); Angelica Velez (Fr. G 5-6).
Key reserves: Nahkaleigh Hayes-Jones (Sr. G 5-6); Myah Hourigan (So. G 5-7); Victoria Labrecque (Sr. G 5-6); Morgan Brustman (Jr. G 5-8); Amyah Bray (So. G 5-8). 
Key losses: Dakota Adams, Leilani Correa.
College commitments: 
Kemari Reynolds (Penn).
Strengths: Seasoned core, youthful depth, interior competition, longer bench, speed.

Player to watch: Destiny Adams

Destiny Adams of Manchester (Photo by Paula Lopez)

No matter how you choose to defend her, Adams, a First Team All-Shore choice as a sophomore, has a way of overcoming the ploy. The 6-3 junior guard covers tremendous ground in little time running out to finish the break, shrewdly sets up defenders to take them off the dribble and, as if that wasn't enough, has a feathery perimeter touch (48 3-pointers). She controls boards, outlets to releasing guards and aggressively challenges shots with the intent of rejection. It's tough to find a weakness in her game and she's still only a junior.

Player to watch, Part II: Kemari Reynolds

What every coach wants in a point guard. Reynolds, a Penn commit,  doesn't just see the floor, she coyly sets up a defense to put it in a prone position before striking, be it with a quick feed, piercing drive or stepback three. Her best quality is what defines elite point guards: she makes her teammates better.

Kemari Reynolds of Manchester (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Beware of...: Angelica Velez

Reynolds tweaked an ankle in the pre-season and could possibly sidelined for the first couple games. If that happens, Manchester will confidently turn to its polished newcomer. Only a freshman, Velez is crafty on the point, explorative getting inside a defense and armed with a jumper that can connect from long range.

By the numbers: 3

Adams, Reynolds and senior Serenity Anderson, who masters handling so many of the intangibles that can easily go unnoticed, are back as starters who have experienced what being championhsip caliber commands. Each was instrumental in driving the Hawks to their first Group 2 state title.

Guard dogs

Manchester is long on backcourt components, which means the Hawks will be pressing and running consistently. Senior Nahkaleigh Hayes-Jones answers the call, whether inserted in a spot start or coming off the bench. Senior Victoria Labrecque, junior Morgan Brustman and sophomore Amyah Bray and Myah Hourigan all were routinely summoned as reliable reserves and freshman Gabrielle Ross is another newcomer worth keeping an eye on.

Picking up the slack

There are some voids Manchester must address. Replacing First-Team All-Shore guard Leilani Correa and the graceful style in which she averaged 17.0 points per game last year won't be easy. Nor, will filling Dakota Adams' role as a force on the boards and shooting threat in the mid-range.

DONOVAN CATHOLIC GRIFFINS

Head coach: Glenn Jansen, 7th season (4th at Donovan Catholic) (108-54)
‘18-’19 Record: 21-7 (12-2 in B South)
Potential starting 5: Karolina Jaruseviciute (Sr, F 6-0); Olivia Parlow (Sr. G 5-5); Tatjana Tatar (Sr. G 5-9); Jordyn Keating (Jr. G 5-9); Alex Gelosi (Jr. G 5-4).
Key reserves: Mackenzie Kopf (So. F 5-10); Olivia Conroy (So. G 5-8); Katie Polo (Jr. G 5-7); Maddie Panuska (Jr. G 5-5); Isabelle Kenmure (Jr. F 5-6); Marli Mann (Fr. F 5-9).
Key losses: Paige Slaven, Jayda Kearney, Nalah Tinsley, Victoria Gelosi.
Strengths: Speed, perimeter shooting, guards.
College commitments: Karolina Jaruseviciute (St. Thomas Aquinas)

Player to watch: Jordyn Keating

Keating has a natural way of keeping a defense on its toes. The 5-9 junior brushes off contact as she powers to the hoop off the dribble, but also features a certain finesse that's revealed on a jumper that drained 35 3-pointers. Keating is not the shooter defenses want to see find her rhythm. She hit four or more threes on three occasions, marked by a torrid display against Wildwood when she nailed six on her way to a season-best 25 points in a 51-50 decision.

Beware of...: Karolina Jaruseviciute

At 6-0 with a smooth release on a her jumper, Jaruseviciute is an intriguing element to the Griffins. Her range presents a problem to defend on the exterior and her size is difficult to keep off the boards. If she finds a consistent scoring touch, look out.

By the numbers: 37.8

Defense is what keeps Donovan Catholic competitive in just about every game it laces up for. Finding a quality look against the Griffins in the halfcourt is an absolute chore.

Climbing the mountain

For Donovan Catholic to scale into the neighborhood of Manchester, which topped it twice a year ago by an average gap of 37.5 points, maintain its defensive standards and taking care of the basketball will be paramount. So, too, will be utilizing its depth. Senior Olivia Parlow, junior Alex Gelosi and sophomore Olivia Conroy all logged minutes in the backcourt last winter and the guard rotation gets an additional shot with the arrival of 5-9 senior Tatjana Tatar, who comes to Toms River via Montenegro.

POINT PLEASANT BORO PANTHERS

Head coach: David Drew, 12th season (190-104)
‘18-’19 Record: 9-16 (7-7 in B South)
Potential starting 5: Lila Shaver (Jr. G 5-5); Megan Feehan (Sr. G 5-7); Kate Leturgez (Sr. F 5-10); Gen Fara (So. G 5-6); Rachel Wisniewski (Sr. F 5-8).
Key reserves: Molly Burns (So. G 5-5); Chelsea Distelcamp (So. G 5-5); Erika Marinelli (So. G 5-5); Kiera Munyan (So. C 5-9); Heather Kimak (So. F); Olivia Valente (So. G).
Key losses: Allie Delaney, Riley Sexton, Morgan Woods, Annalise Albarano.
Strengths: Rebuilt lineup, promising sophomores, depth.

Player to watch: Lila Shaver

Do yourself a favor and be sure to keep a hand in the face of the 5-5 junior guard. Shaver put away 31 3-pointers as a sophomore, scoring at a rate of 8.5 points a game. However, overplay her to shoot and she'll easily find a better option (2.6 apg.). Shaver is also a deceptive defender with quick hands (2.4 spg.).

Beware of...: Kate Leturgez

After a year spent across the inlet at Manasquan, the 5-10 forward is back where she started for her senior year. Leturgez returns to the Panthers with a solid offensive game in the pain and along the baseline and will bring another pair of strong hands inside to work the glass alongside senior Megan Feehan.

By the numbers: 6

The Panthers dropped six games decided by seven points or less in an '18-'19. Get past the heartbreak of close losses and the Boro will find the silver lining that change a possession here or there in any of those setbacks would have tilted the outcome in its favor. Preserving advantages in the second half and closing out slim leads late will be a priority.

By the numbers, Part II: 7

That's how many sophomores the Panthers could enlist into the playing rotation. Gen Fara saw floor time as a freshman in big games and was immune to the pressure. Molly Burns, Chelsea Distelcamp, Erika Marinelli and Olivia Valente bolster the backcourt while 5-9 Kiera Munyan will come off the bench to spell the frontcourt.

BARNEGAT BENGALS

Head coach: Tammy Nicolini, 7th season (67-83)
‘18-’19 Record: 12-14 (7-7 in B South)
Potential starting 5: Erin Breyta (Jr. G/F 5-5); Kaya Foy (Jr. G 5-8); Isabel Guiro (So. G 5-4); Kya Joseph (So. G 5-7); Ashley Pringle (Jr. G 5-5).
Key reserves: Cara McCoy (Fr. F 5-6); Calli Dunn (Fr. F 5-10); Sofia Gialanella (Fr. G 5-5).
Key losses: Jada Baker, Sydney Boyer, Nikki Lozito.
Strengths: Guard heavy, speed, youth.

Player to watch: Kya Joseph

Joseph put together a nice debut for the Bengals as a freshman, backing 9.4 points per outing with 6.4 rebounds. The 5-7 swing gets into creases and asserts herself to rim. Joseph is also adept at sensing a double team and passing out to find the open teammate, plus she can create a haul of steals.

Beware of...: Quickness

The Bengals are going to be guard-oriented for sure. In fact, the starting five could be solely comprised of guards, each bring a little something different to the floor. There's not much height to be found but there are plenty of wheels. Erin Breyta, a 5-5 swing, 5-8 junior Kaya Foy, 5-4 sophomore Isabel Guiro and 5-5 junior Ashley Pringle will be looking to speed up the pace whenever possible, so you better be ready to run against Barnegat.

By the numbers: 40.8

Barnegat handled its business defensively last year, giving up just 43.3 points a contest. However, it scored just 40.8 on average. Finding ways to increase point production will be a priority and it won't be easy, especially when you consider Jada Baker (11.2 ppg.), the team's leading scorer, graduated.

The future is now

Barnegat will carry three freshmen and could offer a glimpse into what will comprise three-fifths of the starting lineup for the next few years. Cara McCoy, a 5-6 forward, 5-10 forward Calli Dunn and 5-5 guard Sofia Gialanella give the Bengals depth and - hopefully for their sake - a shot of youthful enthusiasm.

PINELANDS WILDCATS

Head coach: Keith Lowe, 14th season (153-157)
‘18-’19 Record: 12-14 (6-8 in B South)
Potential starting 5: Alyssa Breese (Sr. F 5-7); Sunni Dielmo (Jr. G 5-5); Skylar Callahan (Jr. G 5-5); Emily Fence (Jr. F 5-9); Bridget Dudas (So. G 5-8).
Key reserves: Tamar Beaubrun (Jr. G); Kayla Weber (So. F); Maddie Steion (Jr. F); Kayla Davis (So. G).
Key losses: D'Anna Capriotti, Katie McGrotty, Alyssa Vitiello, Calyn Conway.
Strengths:
Work ethic, chemistry.

Player to watch: Bridget Dudas

Dudas put together a rather impressive freshman year with little fanfare. She led the Wildcats in scoring and got better as the season progressed. Dudas recorded 11 games in double figures over the final 16 of the season. Her offensive work tends to be conducted on fruitful drives.

Beware of...: Sunni Dielmo

The backcourt could be the strongest area on the floor for Pinelands. Dielmo, a 5-5 junior, saw extensive playing time as a sophomore and will join forces with Dudas, 5-5 junior Skyler Callahan, junior Tamar Beaubrun and sophomore Kayla Davis in a carousel of guards Pinelands will lean on.

By the numbers: 34.9

Pinelands adminstered some stout defense in '18-'19, surrendering 40.9 points per game. It was in a number of low-scoring, close games, but the 34.9 points it averaged wasn't enough to push it over the hump. Coach Keith Lowe points out the Wildcats have developed a tight bond and share a tireless work ethic. Such intangibles could reap some notable rewards. The Wildcats nearly sprung a mid-season upset, bowing to Donovan Catholic, 38-33. The loss illuminated just how close they are to making a leap in the division.

LACEY LIONS

Head coach: Jessica Venturelli, 1st season
‘18-’19 Record: 9-16 (6-8 in B South)
Potential starting 5: Cayli Biele (Jr. G 5-6); Nicole Corragio (Jr. F 5-11); McKayla Mooney (Jr. G 5-8); Sarah Zimmerman (So. F 5-8); Riley Giordano (Fr. G 5-10).
Key reserves: Madison MacGillivray (Fr. G/F 5-8); Jadyn Reilly (Sr. G 5-4); Riley Mahan (Fr. G 5-10); Madelynn Bell (So. F 5-11).
Key lossess: Hailey Ocskasy, Allie Toth, Karli Buxton, Brianna Scott.
Strengths: Size

Player to watch: Caylie Biele

Amid a senior-laden cast last winter, Biele emerged as a player worth monitoring. Not only can she shoot the three, the 5-4 junior guard is capable of detonating along the arc. She sank four triples and pumped in a career-high 18 points when the Lions upended Pinelands, 51-37.

Beware of...: Versatile size

First-year coach Jessica Venturelli seeks to find an identity for the Lions. They don't have towering size but do have some strategic length to play with. Nicole Corragio, a 5-11 junior forward, and 5-11 sophomore Madelynn Bell figure to do a good portion of their work inside. In the backcourt, Lacey will introduce 5-10 guards Riley Giordano and Riley Mahan, a young tandem that will join 5-8 junior McKayla Mooney, Biele, senior Jadyn Reilly and 5-8 frosh Madison MacGillivray in the rotation.

JACKSON LIBERTY LIONS

Head coach: Alaina Hearon, 1st year
‘18-’19 Record: 12-16 (4-10 in B South)
Potential starting 5: Kayla Nelson (Sr. G 5-6); Maura Carney (Jr. G 5-7); Ashleigh Tavaska (Jr. F 5-7); Amira Brown (Sr. G 5-5); Arianna Broughton (Fr. C 5-5)
Key reserves: Jessica Cannestro (So. C 6-3).
Key losses:
Amber McGee, Hailey McGee.
Strengths: Halfcourt balance, 3-point presence, defense

Player to watch: Maura Carney

Carney (11.6 ppg.) can light it up with her ability to keep a defense guessing as to where she will strike from. Give the 5-7 junior space and she will fire from behind the arc, a route that yielded 45 3-pointers last year. Close to quickly and a defender is susceptible to her darting moves to the basket.

Beware of...Jessica Cannestro

Opponents won't really need to be warned of her presence. At 6-3, she stands eight inches taller than her next biggest teammate but the disparity in height isn't what gets Cannestro noticed. Instead, it's her dominance on the boards (7.1 rpg.) She grabbed 18 boards in the second game of her career only to top that with 19 in a January loss to Brick.

By the numbers: 8-1

The Lions answered an 0-3 start last year by going 8-1, picking up some impressive wins over Barnegat, Lacey, Central and Point Beach along the way. The tear re-enforced that Liberty can play, especially on the defensive end (41.8 ppg.). However, six straight losses ensued, capped by a 41-40 payback delivered by Barnegat. Where the issue resided was on the offensive end where an increase is production (36.2 ppg.) is a necessity.

LAKEWOOD PINERS

Head coach: Caleb Correa, 1st season
‘18-’19 Record: 4-21 (0-14 in B South)
Potential starting 5: Aysha Diawara (Sr. G); Iyaunna Tims (Jr. F); Alana Bergstrum (Jr. G); Melissa Esteves (Jr. G); Lizeth Dominguez (Jr. F).
Key reserves: Yanet Gasga (So. G); Jezelle Ortiz (Jr. G).
Key losses: Tiana Medina, Trishann Morgan.
Strengths: Backcourt, athletic.

Player to watch: Aysha Diawara

Diawara (10.4 ppg.) is argubably the most underappreciated player in the division. Make no mistake, the senior guard is routinely an opposing defense's primary target to shut down yet she finds ways to overcome those schemes. She hit 14 3-pointers last year and scored in double figures in a dozen times and is the Piners' most consisten point producer. How pivotal is Diaware to the offense? She scored 26 in a 46-31 loss to Roselle.

Beware of...: Development

While Caleb Correa embarks on his first season at the helm for Lakewood, the Piners have a returning nucleus to be optimistic about. Junior forward Iyaunna Tims and junior guard Melissa Estevez are back to join Diawara in the starting lineup.

By the numbers: 22.7

Lakewood knows it can count on Diawara for scoring but in order to start picking up wins, the Piners have to find secondary scoring avenues. Estevez, Tims, junior guard Alana Bergstrom and junior forward Lizeth Dominguez have to be prepared to jump into the scoring mix.

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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