SSN Girls Basketball Top 10 – Jan. 8
Order in the court. First case on the docket is who belongs at No. 1 in the Shore Sports Network Girls Basketball Top 10. Three cases will be heard.
The first belongs to Manchester, the reigning Shore Conference Tournament champion who finished atop the poll last season and kicked off the '19-'20 in the exact same spot. The Hawks are a talented lot with some youthful exuberance in the backcourt. They zipped to their third straight WOBM Christmas Classix title, dropping Colts Neck, Manasquan and Red Bank along the way. However, they suffered their first loss on Sunday at the Blue Star Invitational, bowing to nationally-ranked St. Frances (Md.), 56-48. There is no shame in that.
St. John Vianney would like to be heard. The Lady Lancers are undefeated, including a 40-38 decision over Riverdale Baptist (Md.), another team with national credentials, at the Blue Star Invitational.Strong and versatile on offense. Defense is unforgiving.
And, Red Bank Catholic can plead a strong cases, as well. Yes, the Caseys lost to Long Island Lutheran, 61-51, over the winter break at the Diamond State Classic, but they boast arguably the two most impressive wins locally, stinging St. Rose, 66-43, on Friday and Rumson-Fair Haven, 55-42, Tuesday.
All three have compelling testimonies, which doesn't make the verdict easy. The good news is the season has a way of ironing everything out.
Shore Sports Network Girls Basketball Top 10
Wednesday, Jan. 8
1-Red Bank Catholic (6-1) Last week: 4
Got to give RBC the credit it deserves. The Caseys blitzed St. Rose with a performance that illuminated their halfcourt balance and defensive flexibility. Guards Sophia Sabino, Toni Panayides, Justine Pissott, Shaelyn Sabino and Casey Prior combined for 10 3-pointers and their marksmanship opened the paint for 6-4 Ally Carman to drop in 15. The 2-3 zone employed achieved its desires, thwarting the Roses' penchant for penetration and limiting them to a season-low 43 points. A similar formula of spreading offensive wealth and denying the same luxury at the opposite end keyed a start-to-finish victory against Rumson-Fair Haven on Tuesday.
2-St. John Vianney (6-0, 3-0) Last week: 3
The Lady Lancers have put it on opponents, especially from a defensive standpoint. Perhaps the most impressive part of their win against Riverdale Baptist (Md.) on Sunday was it limited a national power that averaged 57.1 points per game to a season-low 38. Sophomore guard Madison St. Rose (15.1 ppg.) and junior guard Katie Hill (11.3 ppg.) headline an offense scoring at a 66.8 clip but its the depth that comprises this roster which is at the root of a fast start, not to mention a defense surrendering 32.3 points a game.
3-Manchester (7-1, 3-0) Last week: 1
Junior forward Destiny Adams has been a pillar of consistency (21.0 ppg., 13.5 rpg.) for the Hawks, who stumbled against St. Frances (Md.), victimized by a 14-7 second quarter that proved the difference in a 56-48 loss. Rest assured, Manchester remains formidable. Senior point guard Kemari Reynolds (8.1 ppg.) headlines a deep pool of gifted guards that includes poised senior Nahkaleigh Hayes-Jones (6.7 ppg.) and freshmen Angelica Velez (6.0 ppg., 3.0 apg.) and Gabriella Ross (8.0 ppg.).
4-St. Rose (5-3, 2-1) Last week: 2
Tough week for the Roses. Senior standout and Florida-commit Brynn Farrell (23.3 ppg.) got in early foul trouble against Red Bank Catholic and the Belmar school never found its offensive rhythm in a 66-43 loss on Friday. Sidwell Friends (Md.) handed St. Rose its second straight defeat, 80-69, on Sunday at the Blue Star Invitational despite 33 from Farrell but the Purple Roses got back on track Tuesday, upended Shore, 69-31. A fine-tuned defense was complemented by four players scoring in double figures.
5-Rumson-Fair Haven (4-1, 2-1) Last week: 5
The Bulldogs absorbed their first loss Tuesday night, falling to visiting Red Bank Catholic, 55-42. The setback came on the heels of a thrilling 50-49 win at Manasquan on Thursday. Junior guard Cortland McBarron (14.8 ppg.) delivered the decisive play, converting a steal in transition with 30 seconds to play that thrust RFH in front. The Bulldogs are seeing plenty of promise from freshman guard Julia Corsentino (10.0 ppg.) and got good news this week with 5-11 junior Grace Munt, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, getting cleared to resume basketball activities.
6-Red Bank (6-1, 3-0) Last week: 6
Junior Chloe Teter (15.4 ppg.) has taken to her new role as the off guard for the Bucs. She erupted for a career-high 23 points Friday night as Red Bank edged host Colts Neck, 44-41, for a key B North triumph. A deep backcourt houses senior Taylor Crystian (14.5 ppg.), junior Amelia Medolla (12.8 ppg., 21 3-pointers) and defensive stalwart Caitlyn Decker (2.7 spg.).
7-Jackson Memorial (4-1, 3-0) Last week: 7
Tough to find many players off to as quick a start as Kristina Donza. The Navy-bound senior guard (24.2 ppg., 15 3-pointers) has scored no fewer than 22 points in each of the first five games. Junior guard Rachel Capua (18.0 ppg.) has been equally consistent while the rebounding efforts of 6-2 sophomore center Amber Williams (5.2 rpg.) and freshman swing Zoei Maffei (4.6 rpg.) shouldn't be overlooked.
8-Manasquan (5-2, 2-1) Last week: 9
A youthful Warriors' cast absorbed a bitter 50-49 home loss to No. 5 Rumson-Fair Haven on Thursday, but continues to show its defensive grit (42..2 ppg.). Sophomores Brooke Hollawell (16.5 ppg., 13 3-pointers), Georgia Heine (9.7 ppg.) and Dorothy Loffredo (8.1 ppg.) are the offensive catalysts with strong support from juniors Maci Black and Allison Waters and the playmaking of senior Maddie Fagan.
9-Colts Neck (4-2, 2-1) Last week: 8
The Cougars rebounded from their 44-41 loss to No. 6 Red Bank by topping Matawan, 53-31, on Tuesday. Senior guard and Dartmouth recruit Camryn Foltz is off to a blistering start (23.8 ppg.), as is a stout defense yielding 40.3 points per contest.
10-Marlboro (5-2, 2-0) Last week: 10
Lopsided wins over Manalapan and Freehold initiated the Mustangs' defense of the A North title. Junior Jessica Riepe, a 5-11 forward, has bordered on unconscious from the perimeter, hitting 26 threes while clicking for 15.7 points a game. Junior Sammy Jay (9.4) and sophomore Dani Schlesinger (9.2 ppg.) give Marlboro elusive speed and point production out of the backcourt.
On the bubble: Toms River North (5-1, 3-0), Neptune (5-1, 3-0), Middletown South (3-2, 2-0), Long Branch (5-0, 2-0).