1-St. John Vianney (7-1, 5-0) Last week: 1

Sajada Bonner of St. John Vianney (Photo by Paula Lopez)

No shame associated with the Lady Lancers’ first loss of the season, a 58-42 setback to national powerhouse St. John’s College of Washington D.C. at the Blue Star Elite Invitational on Sunday. In fact, it’s the program’s annual willingness to test itself against such high-caliber opposition that testifies as to why it’s one of the most respected in the country. A day after bowing, SJV rebounded by sprinting past Colts Neck, 69-30, behind a career-high 19 points from 6-0 sophomore guard Katie Hill.

2-St. Rose (7-0, 5-0) Last week: 2

Brynn Farrell of St. Rose (Photo by Paula Lopez)

The Purple Roses delivered an emphatic statement Tuesday night, running off 15 successive points en route to running away from No. 3 Manasquan, 52-36, in front of a standing-room-only crowd in Manasquan. Junior forward Brynn Farrell dropped in 15 points, marked by the 1,000th of her career, and sophomore guard Abby Antognoli scored 15 more. St. Rose became the first team to beat the Warriors on their home hardwood since Rumson-Fair Haven scored a 39-37 triumph on Jan. 22, 2016.

3-Manchester (9-2, 5-0) Last week: 4

Nahkaleigh Hayes-Jones of Manchester (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Hard to imagine a team that dropped two of its last three outings picking up ground in the poll but take a second to consider who the Hawks lost to and their showing in each matchup. Manchester chased an ambitious schedule and suffered the consequences from a record standpoint, falling to state power Saddle River Day, 61-52, at the New Year’s Resolution in Paterson on Friday and bowing to Bishop McNamara (Md.), perceived by many to be the best team in the country, 68-53, on Sunday at the Blue Star Elite Invitational in Philadelphia. Such respectable encounters will only sharpen the Hawks’ talons, which they sunk into Barnegat, 73-31, on Tuesday behind 15 points from senior guard Leilani Correa, 11 out of senior forward Dakota Adams and nine from sophomore guard Nahkaleigh Hayes-Jones.

4-Manasquan (7-2, 4-1) Last week: 3

Faith Masonius of Manasquan (Photo by Paula Lopez)

A run of three straight wins, marked by a 49-43 triumph over Archbishop Wood (Pa.) at the Blue Star Elite Invitational that featured a career-high 35 points from Harvard-bound senior guard Lola Mullaney, came to an abrupt conclusion Tuesday night courtesy of No. 2 St. Rose, which pinned a 52-36 loss on the Warriors. Senior swing Faith Masonius accounted for 21 points and 10 rebounds in the setback. No rest for the weary; Manasquan hosts No. 5 Red Bank Catholic on Thursday. 

5-Red Bank Catholic (7-3, 4-1) Last week: 5

The Caseys have won three of their last four outings with the lone interruption a 73-40 loss handed down by Roland Park (Md.) on Sunday at the Blue Star Elite Invitational. They picked up a notable road win on Thursday, outlasting No. 7 Marlboro, 51-48, keyed by 13 rebounds from 6-2 junior forward Nicole Stanford, seven boards by 6-2 freshman guard Justine Pissott, 10 points from both 6-4 freshman center Ally Carman and 6-0 junior guard Fab Eggenschwiler and stellar defense along the 3-point line. While its size and length is cause concern for opponents, so too, is the fearlessness of sophomore guard Sophia Sabino and senior backcourt partner Julia Setaro finding seams to the rim.

6-Middletown South (7-1, 4-0) Last week: 8

Isla Brennan of Middletown South (Photo by Paula Lopez)

A feverish fourth-quarter rally spurred the Eagles to a 68-63 decision against No. 7 Marlboro on Monday, giving them the early inside track toward the A North crown. Senior point guard Isla Brennan delivered 18 of her game-high 25 points in the second half, including 10 during the 23-12 resurgence that wiped out a 51-45 deficit. Freshman Renee Wells embraced the urgency of the moment by scoring all seven of her points over the closing eight minutes. The win marked the fourth straight for Middletown South and extended its win streak against A North foes in divisional play to 59.

7-Marlboro (7-3, 3-1) Last week: 7

Danielle Schlesinger of Marlboro (Photo by Paula Lopez)

After zipping to a 6-0 start, the Mustangs have dropped three of four but the losses were inflicted by No. 3 Manchester, No. 5 Red Bank Catholic and No. 6 Middletown South. Its exhaustive style taps into Marlboro’s developing depth, which is coming to the fore. Freshman guard Danielle Schlesinger struck for a season-high 17 in a 62-25 win against Long Branch. The victory proceeded a 68-63 loss to No. 6 Middletown South, a tough pill to swallow for the Stangs, who held a 51-45 lead after three quarters.

8-Toms River North (8-1. 5-0) Last week: 9

Brielle Bisogno of Toms River North (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Beware of the Mariners, who have won three straight over Ewing, Brick Memorial and Southern by an average margin of 29.3 points. They are getting exemplary veteran leadership from senior forward Jenna Paul (19.5 ppg.), senior point guard Brielle Bisogno (16.0 ppg.) and junior swing Kristina Johnson (7.4 ppg.) but are also benefitting from the rapid growth of freshmen Brandi Manna, Sydney Howell, Faith Wavershak and Gia Pissott.

9-Rumson-Fair Haven (4-4, 2-3) Last week: 10

Lucy Adams of Rumson-Fair Haven (Photo by Paula Lopez)

The youthful Bulldogs have the unenviable task of progressing while competing in the grueling A Central, home to No. 2 St. Rose, No. 4 Manasquan and No. 5 Red Bank Catholic, yet they continue to make gradual strides upward. Junior forward Lucy Adams had 14 points and 11 rebounds, marking her fifth double-double, and junior guard Sophia Passalaqua offered perimeter protection with nine points on a trio of 3-pointers as Rumson-Fair Haven edged Holmdel, 45-40, on Monday to end a two-game losing streak.

10-Colts Neck (5-3, 4-1) Last week: NR

Camryn Foltz of Colts Neck (Photo by Paula Lopez)

Meticulous execution in the halfcourt that magnifies the strengths of each component has the Cougars a game-back of No. 1 St. John Vianney in the B North. Colts Neck absorbed a 69-30 loss to the Lady Lancers on Monday, but the setback came on the heels of two impressive divisional wins. Senior forward Eva Gibson scored a season-high 20 and senior swing Catherine Gibson had 11 to aid a 61-32 triumph over Middletown North and junior guard Camryn Foltz backed her 12 by scoring a dozen more on Saturday in a 43-27 win against Red Bank.

On the bubble

Red Bank (6-3, 3-2): The Bucs, powered by the backcourt trifecta of senior Meghan Murray, sophomore Chloe Teter and sophomore Caitlyn Decker, bounced back from successive losses to No. 1 St. John Vianney and No. 10 Colts Neck to trip Neptune, 47-36.

Neptune (5-3, 3-2): That loss to Colts Neck snapped a three-game win streak that featured the dynamic play of junior forward Macy Brackett and freshman guard Amaya Evans.

Donovan Catholic (7-2, 3-1): The Griffins are currently riding a five-game win streak fueled by the gritty production of junior guard Paige Slaven, junior forward Jayda Kearney, sophomore guard Jordyn Keating and senior forward Nalah Tinsley.

Toms River East (4-3, 3-1): Senior swing Kamryn Lister dumped in 15 points and junior guard Nicole Platten clicked for a season-high 12 as the Raiders upended Jackson Memorial, 59-50, leaving them tied with the Jaguars for second place behind No. 8 Toms River North in the A South.

Howell (6-1, 3-1): Since suffering a 65-51 loss at the hands of No. 6 Middletown South on Dec. 17, the Rebels have won five in a row. Seniors Jessica O’Brien and Alexis Post and sophomores Caitlin Gresko and Mackenzie Bruno deserve as much praise for their defense as they do for their offensive contributions.

Freehold Twp. (6-3, 3-1): The Patriots knocked off Middletown North, 72-53, edged Manalapan, 49-46, and squeezed past Southern, 32-28 before falling to Sayreville, 59-49, to snap a three-game win streak. Sophomore Hannah Orloff, a 6-2 center, is averaging 17.7 points and 12.9 rebounds a contest and posted a double-double in the first eight contests.

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