Girls Basketball Top 10 (Jan. 16)
No Top 10 should ever be deemed stable but the fact all 10 residents remain in the exact same position as a week at least suggests a nod in that direction.
As you go through the teams, see if the common thread that intertwines all 10 could be more obvious.
1-St. John Vianney (10-1, 7-0) Last week: 1
The effortless manner in which the Lady Lancers are balancing the offensive load signals exactly how deep they are. Senior forward Sajada Bonner (11.5 ppg.) and Brelynn Bellamy (10.4 ppg.) handle the brunt of the work inside while the emergence of sophomore Katie Hill (9.2 ppg.) and freshman Madison St. Rose (9.1 ppg.) provides senior point guard Sarah Karpell (7.8 ppg.) limitless options to accentuate. Along with defensive glove Rahmena Henderson, this group has locked down opponents, surrendering 30.3 points a game. Vianney dodged an upset on Saturday as Bonner sank a decisive free throw in the final seconds to lift the Lancers over University, 47-46. Another marquee showdown awaits on Sunday when SJV hosts national power Christ the King (NY).
2-St. Rose (10-0, 7-0) Last week: 2
You like defense? So do the Purple Roses, who are yielding a mere 27.7 points a contest. In fact, No. 5 Red Bank Catholic is the only team to hang more than 40 on the Belmar school, which has won all 10 games by an average margin of 29.7 points. Bad news for those who will cross its path; transfers Makayla Andrews, Maria Tedesco and Layla Laws all became eligible this week making an already-deep lineup increasingly more steep.
3-Manchester (11-2, 7-0) Last week: 3
Since dropping two straight to Saddle River Day and Bishop McNamara (Md.), the Hawks have cruised to three consecutive B South victories. Basically, you can’t miss too many shots against Manchester because its effortless ability to control the glass with 5-10 senior Dakota Adams, 6-3 sophomore Destiny Adams, 6-0 senior Leilani Correa, 5-9 junior Serenity Anderson and 5-8 junior Kemari Reynolds crashing the boards is the match that lights a blistering sequence of run outs that change the complexion of the game in a matter of minutes.
4-Manasquan (9-3, 6-1) Last week: 4
The Warriors feature arguably the Shore’s top 1-2 scoring punch in seniors Lola Mullaney (19.8 ppg.) and Faith Masonius (16.5 ppg.) What will make Manasquan increasingly dangerous in the week to come hinges on junior swing Kate Leturgez and freshmen Georgia Heine, Brooke Hollawell and Dorothy Loffredo continuing to progress as a reliable third option in the halfcourt. As long as Manasquan, which rebounded from a 66-47 loss at Long Island Lutheran on Sunday with a 66-26 victory against Shore, defends at the level it has (41.3 ppg.), the defending Shore Conference Tournament and Tournament of Champions titleholder looms as a threat.
5-Red Bank Catholic (8-4, 5-2) Last week: 5
The Caseys deserve a great deal of credit for holding down this spot. They are operating with a youthful nucleus that doesn’t want to hear about how bright its future is due to how committed it is to the present. The length, size and brawn offered by 6-0 junior Fab Eggenschwiler, 6-2 freshman Justine Pissott, 6-2 junior Nicole Stanford and 6-4 freshman Ally Carman is disruptive and merciless in man-to-man (42.6 ppg.). The backcourt combination of senior Julia Setaro and sophomore Sophia Sabino recognizes where to steer passes and when to attack the rim.
6-Middletown South (10-1, 6-0) Last week: 6
With wins over Long Branch and Freehold Twp. sandwiched around a 41-36 triumph against Colts Neck, the Eagles ran their win streak against A North competition in divisional play to 61 while extending their current string of victories to seven. Following the trend established by the five teams above it, Middletown South’s success is predicated on neutralizing defense that has conceded 38.5 points per game. What makes the Eagles even tougher is how easily they can interchange players into the lead scorer role. Seniors Isla Brenna, Eve Pirie, Emily McCarthy and Samantha Keenan along with juniors Stephanie Mayerhofer and Kayla Richardson are all capable finishers equipped to shoulder the responsibility of a primary shooter.
7-Marlboro (10-3, 5-1) Last week: 7
It’s no secret where the Mustangs are generating the brunt of points at the root of the gaudy 66.7 they drop a night. Marlboro has hit a whopping 125 3-pointers but to make matters worse, virtually anyone on the floor should be considered a long-range threat. Furthermore, there is some length to those shooters who can release over even the tightest close outs. Jessica Riepe (22 3-pointers), a 5-8 sophomore, and 5-8 freshman Danielle Schlesinger (team-high 26 3-pointers) headline a brigade of bombers that also includes junior Sam Nocco (20), sophomore Sammy Jay (17) and seniors Theresa Besso (15) and Gisella Romeo (15).
8-Toms River North (10-1, 7-0) Last week: 8
The Mariners put to rest any residual doubt regarding who is the team to beat in A South on Monday when it knocked off Jackson Memorial, 58-53. While seniors Jenna Paul (22 points, five rebounds, four steals, three assists) and Brielle Bisogno (22 points, five rebounds, four steals, three assists) assumed their usual prominent roles, it was junior Kristina Johnson (eight points, 11 rebounds) and freshmen Sydney Howell (nine points, three 3-pointers) and Faith Wavershak that embodied the gritty defense and hustle that has powered Toms River North. The Mariners allow just 37.5 points a contest.
9-Rumson-Fair Haven (7-4, 4-3) Last week: 9
The prevailing sentiment that the Bulldogs would only get better as the season unfolded is beginning to take shape. Despite competing in the loaded A Central, home to No. 2 St. Rose, No. 4 Manasquan and No. 5 Red Bank Catholic, Rumson is sharpening its chops, especially on the defensive side of midcourt. The Dawgs have won four straight, conceding no more than 40 points during that tear. Junior Lucy Adams has blossomed into a double-double machine, sophomore Grace Munt continues to elevate her scoring production and sophomore Cortland McBarron addresses multiple needs, including distribution and denial on the ball.
10-Colts Neck (7-4, 6-1) Last week: 10
All four losses suffered by the Cougars were administer by teams already highlighted in the poll, including a pair at the hands of No. 6 Middletown South, the latest a 41-36 setback on Saturday. Yet, Colts Neck abides to the recurring theme that connects all 10 teams listed, a staunch defense (37.4 ppg.) that complements a modest scoring rate (44.8 ppg.). Junior guard Camryn Foltz (14.5 ppg.) and senior forward Eva Gibson are the offensive catalysts for the Cougars.
On the bubble
Donovan Catholic (10-2, 6-1): Firmly in second place in B South behind No. 3 Manchester, the Griffins are one of the hottest teams in the Shore, racking up eight straight wins. They drew some attention by edging Lodi Immaculate, 38-34, and toppling Jackson Memorial, 46-29.
Howell (8-2, 4-2): The Rebels debuted here last week and only fortified their case for future entry by battling No. 7 Marlboro tooth and nail before bowing, 63-56.
Freehold Twp. (7-5, 33): Ditto for the Patriots, who squeezed in a win over Old Bridge between a 76-55 loss to No. 7 Marlboro and a 50-42 setback to No. 6 Middletown South.
Toms River East (6-4, 5-2): One of the bigger surprises in the Shore, the Raiders have won three of four, including a 59-50 decision against Jackson Memorial. Senior guard Kamryn Lister eclipsed the 1,000-point mark with 19 on Monday in a 64-41 win over Central.
Jackson Memorial (5-5, 4-2): Don't cast shade on the Jaguars yet. They showed their competitive fire Monday night in a 58-53 loss to No. 8 Toms River North and 5-11 senior swing Dani Evans is on fire. She pumped in 25 pints and cleared 13 boards during a 45-37 win at Southern and had 22 points and 15 rebounds against TRN.