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With Shore Conference realignment comes the possibility for a “division of death” and this year, that division in Class C North. Not only does five-time defending Class B Central champion Ranney join the field, but St. Rose has undergone a makeover that could catapult the Purple Roses to elite status at a statewide level over the next two years.

On top of the new team and the significantly improved team, there are holdovers Manasquan and Point Pleasant Boro. Manasquan is in the midst of one of the memorable runs of success ever encountered by a Shore Conference public program in boys basketball and it likely still hasn’t reached its apex. Point Boro, meanwhile, finished second in the division to the Warriors a year ago and will be a tough out again.

Neptune and Wall round out the division and while both are going through rebuilding phases, it was only three seasons ago that the two teams were playing for a sectional championship against one another and just two years ago that both finished in the final Shore Sports Network Top 10. The talent and coaching in Class C North is top-shelf and even with a more watered down group of divisions in the conference this season, the night-in-night-out competition in this division should be a sight to behold.

In predicted order of finish

1. Manasquan

Since the 2018-19 season, Manasquan has won two Shore Conference championships (one official), played in four Shore Conference Tournament finals (three official), won three NJSIAA sectional titles and posted 29-win and 31-win season. Even with all those accolades, last season’s team might have been the ultimate validation of the program that coach Andrew Bilodeau has built in his decade-and-a-half at the helm. Manasquan graduated its entire starting lineup and four of its five starters were underclassmen and still, the Warriors won 25 games, reached the Shore Conference final for the fourth straight year and captured another NJSIAA sectional championship.

With four of the five starters back from 2021-22, Manasquan is primed for an even better season – one that could look more like the 31-win 2019-20 season, when Manasquan finished the season as the No. 4 team in N.J. Sophomore Darius Adams is coming off an All-Shore First-Team season as a freshman and is drawing offers from several high-major Division I programs already. The lineup offers plenty of balance as well with 6-foot-7 junior Alex Konov, 6-4 sophomore Griffin Linstra and junior point guard Ryan Frauenheim back to tie it all together.

Senior forward Quinn Peters rounds out the starting lineup after playing as the sixth man last year. Senior Jack Dettlinger will come off the bench after carving out a role coming off the bench a season ago, as will fellow 6-5 senior Tom Schnurr. The schedule is loaded and the starting lineup will have to stay healthy, but there is a lane for Manasquan to have its best year yet. With no Tournament of champions, the Warriors could end up playing Non-Public B favorite Roselle Catholic, Non-Public A favorite Don Bosco and Group II favorite Camden. With four underclassmen in the starting five, Manasquan could be building toward something big over the next two seasons.

Manasquan freshman Darius Adams. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
Manasquan sophomore Darius Adams. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
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Head Coach: Andrew Bilodeau, 15th season
2021-22 Record: 25-6 (12-0, first in Class C North)
Key Losses:
Matt Solomon, 6-6, Forward; Dan Hyland, 6-1, Forward

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Ryan Frauenheim, Jr., 5-9, Guard

Darius Adams, So., 6-3, Guard

Alex Konov, Jr., 6-7, Guard

Griffin Linstra, So., 6-4, Guard

Quinn Peters, Sr., 6-5, Forward

 

Off the Bench

Jack Dettlinger, Sr., 6-5, Forward

Mike Flanagan, Sr., 6-2, Forward

Tom Schnurr, Sr., 6-5, Forward

Jake Heilos, Sr., 6-1, Guard

Matt Porazzo, Sr., 5-9, Guard

Jhamier Howard, Sr., 6-2, Forward

Luke Roy, Jr., 6-1, Guard

Ryan Mulvaney, Jr., 6-4, Forward

Jason Larned, Jr., 6-2, Guard

 

2. St. Rose

After a respectable first season under head coach Brian Lynch, St. Rose is ready to blow up this season thanks to the influx of six transfers – three of whom come from Europe, where Lynch made a name for himself as a professional player and coach after playing at Christian Brothers Academy and Villanova as an amateur. The Purple Roses played at a faster pace last year with a senior-heavy team of program players and with the new roster, the results could be major once everyone is eligible in mid-January.

The two noteworthy international imports are brothers Matt and Jayden Hodge, who grew up in Belgium and will immediately be two of the Shore’s top players. At 6-8 with perimeter skills and elite athleticism, Matt Hodge is a Division I prospect with a considerable ceiling, while Jayden is a similarly-promising player as a 6-4 freshman. Sophomore Bryan Ebeling is the other European transfer, with the 6-2 guard coming from Italy. Those three will be eligible to start the season and will be joined by a the returning duo of Jackson Gordon and Luke Roman during the early part of the schedule.

Once Jan. 14 comes around, St. Rose will had its three transfers who played in New Jersey last season. Junior Gioacchino Panzini (Red Bank Catholic) and sophomore Evan Romano (Holmdel) were Shore Conference standouts as underclassmen last year and sophomore guard Peter Mauro played as a freshman at Gill St. Bernard’s – perennially a top 10 team in the state. Factor in some more talent further down the roster and St. Rose is going to be one of the state’s more talented teams. If this year’s group can gel in the last two weeks of January, the Purple Roses could be in play for multiple championships.

St. Rose junior Matt Hodge. (Photo: Ray Rich Photography)
St. Rose junior Matt Hodge. (Photo: Ray Rich Photography)
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Head Coach: Brian Lynch, second season
2021-22 Record: 12-11 (6-6, tied third in Class C North)
Key Losses: Luke Farrell, 6-5, Forward; Nick DiNatale, 6-1, Guard; Chris Tallarico, 6-0, Guard; Colin Westhoven, 6-1, Guard; Jack Lang, 6-3, Forward; Chris Sayuk, 6-0, Guard

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Bryan Ebeling, So., 6-2, Guard (Transfer from Italy)

Jayden Hodge, Fr., 6-4, Guard (Transfer from Belgium)

Matthew Hodge, Jr., 6-8, Forward (Transfer from Belgium)

Peter Mauro, So., 5-10, Guard (Transfer from Gill St Bernard’s)

Gioacchini Panzini, Jr., 6-6, Forward (Transfer from Red Bank Catholic)

 

Off the Bench

Evan Romano, So., 6-3, Guard (Transfer from Holmdel)

Jackson Gordon, Sr., 6-3, Forward

Luke Roman, Jr., 6-3, Forward

Matt Alexis, Jr., 6-1, Forward

Tyler Cameron, Fr., 6-1, Guard

Mike Conlon, Sr., 6-3, Forward

Pat Hansen, So., 5-9, Guard

Ny’Sean Kennedy, Fr., 6-2, Guard

Andrew Romano, Jr., 5-11, Guard

Brennan Sherman, Jr., 6-0, Guard

 

3. Ranney

Since winning the Tournament of Champions in 2019, Ranney has been a constant in the Shore Conference Top 10, just not at the level of the Panthers’ championship days. Last year, it was a pair of transfers – Elijah Perkins and Ryan Zan – that dented Ranney’s postseason hopes and this year, it is a mix of graduation and the transfer of Zack Davis that leaves some holes for coach Tahj Holden to fill in order to keep Ranney among the contenders in the Shore Conference and in the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public B section.

Even with some questions, Ranney will still have some star power thanks to the return of two-time All-Shore selection Isaac Hester. With Hester leading the way as a scorer and ball-handler, Patrick School transfer Jahlil Bethea will serve as a complement – if not a second star – alongside Hester to once again give the Panthers a backcourt that can compete with Ranney’s entire schedule. Junior Drew Buck will be the third option on offense and a versatile defender heading into his third varsity season and coming off a strong sophomore campaign.

Beyond those experienced starters in Hester, Bethea and Buck, Ranney will have to settle the roles of the remaining players in the rotation, including the final two starters. Senior Glen Cantalupo is a multi-sport athlete who will give Ranney some interior toughness, while J.T. Cook, Josh Engel, MeSean Williams and Justin Buck will all step into bigger roles this season. There is a glaring lack of size on the roster that could plague Ranney against bigger teams, but the guard play, athleticism and skill remain in place for the Panthers to put together another solid season.

Ranney junior Isaac Hester. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
Ranney senior Isaac Hester. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
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Head Coach: Tahj Holden, eighth season
2021-22 Record: 22-6 (12-0, first in Class B Central)
Key Losses: Charles Anyichie, 6-7, Center; T.J. Braswell-Brown, 6-4, Forward; Brandon Klatsky, 6-3, Guard; Zack Davis, Sr., 6-5, Forward (Transferred to Peddie)

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Isaac Hester, Sr., 6-0, Guard

Jahlil Bethea, Sr., 6-1, Guard (Transfer from Patrick School)

Drew Buck, Jr., 6-3, Guard/Forward

Glen Cantalupo, Sr., 6-0, Forward

J.T. Cook, Jr., 6-0, Guard

 

Off the Bench

Josh Engel, Jr., 6-0, Guard

MeSean Williams, So., 5-5, Guard

Justin Buck, So., 6-3, Forward

Shaan Nayar, Fr., Guard

Noah Hynes, Fr., Guard

J.D. Leidersdorff, So., Guard

Gavin Jones, So., Center

 

4. Point Pleasant Boro

One of 10 teams in the Shore Conference to win at least 20 games in 2021-22, Point Boro had one of the conference’s deepest, most balanced rosters. The Panthers had more single-game scoring leaders than there are spots in the starting lineup, so while there are technically three starters returning from last year’s team, it is going to feel like a lot more thanks to the experience the bench players got a season ago, when Point Boro finished second in the Class C North division behind Manasquan.

Senior Stephen Mellet is the top returning player from Point Boro’s 2021-22 team and might have been the team’s top player as a junior, although he had plenty of competition. On top of Mellett and his versatile, all-around game, Point Boro brings back a capable shooter in guard Shane Ryan, an experienced center in Dan Coughlan, another skilled wing in Noah Knauf and a junior guard ready to take the next step in Jake Venturoso.

In addition to some solid upper-class options off the bench, coach Kevin Hynes is ready to deploy a core of sophomores who will form the nucleus of Point Boro’s teams in the coming seasons and that group should provide some crucial depth – an element that served the Panthers well in 2021-22. With Manasquan, St. Rose and Ranney on the schedule twice apiece, the division is a beast; but Point Boro got a taste of it last year and with some significant experience back and more depth coming, the Panthers should be competitive from start to finish this season.

Point Boro junior Stephen Mellett. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
Point Boro senior Stephen Mellett. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
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Head Coach: Kevin Hynes, 28th season
2021-22 Record: 20-4 (10-2, second in Class C North)
Key Losses: Kai Messeroll, 5-10, Guard; Matt Lee, 6-3, Guard; Colton MacGlashan, 6-4, Center

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Stephen Mellett, Sr., 6-4, Forward

Noah Knauf, Sr., 6-1, Forward

Shane Ryan, Sr., 5-9, Guard

Dan Coughlan, Sr., 6-5, Center

Jake Venturoso, Jr., 5-10, Guard

 

Off the Bench

Chris Herrman, Sr., 5-10, Guard

Alex Baginski, Sr., 5-10, Guard

Alex Venturoso, Jr., 5-9, Guard

Micah Cotton, Jr., 6-4, Forward/Center

Thomas Turner, So., 6-4, Center

T.J. Jordan, So., 6-1, Forward

Hudson Griffin, So., 6-1, Forward

Dean Cardia, So., 5-9, Guard

Brady Callou, So., 6-0, Guard

 

5. Neptune

It has been ages since Neptune struggled the way it did during the 2021-22 season. Is it a sign of the changing times for one of the Shore’s proudest programs or a one-off that will be corrected over the next several seasons? This year’s senior-heavy group is determined to make last season’s struggles a distant memory and will have to overcome a grueling divisional schedule – as well as a few key graduation losses – to make up that ground.

Four seniors will lead the Neptune starting lineup, with returning starters C.J. Argilagos and Daniel Charles at the head of the list. Argilagos emerged as the Scarlet Fliers’ point guard last year, while Charles has been a significant contributor in each of the past three seasons – including on the 2019-20 team that reached the Central Jersey Group III final. Samuel Cetoute and Jalen Weedon were also rotation regulars a season ago and are ready for increased roles.

An emerging sophomore class led by Andrew Petry will be an x-factor for Neptune in its drive to get back to the Shore Conference and NJSIAA Tournaments in 2023. It is hard to imagine another season with Neptune staying home for the postseason and if the Scarlet Fliers can right the ship enough to qualify for games in late February, they would be a battle-tested team coming out of this division.

Head Coach: Joe Fagan, ninth season
2021-22 Record: 5-15 (3-7, tied fourth in Class B North)
Key Losses:
Daniel Moran, 6-0, Guard; Oneil Campbell, 6-6, Forward; Jahmil Miranda, 5-11, Guard; Mateo Andrews, Sr., 6-1, Guard (transferred to Ocean)

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

C.J. Argilagos, Sr., 5-6, Guard

Samuel Cetoute, Sr., 6-0, Guard

Daniel Charles, Sr., 6-1, Guard

Jalen Weedon, Sr., 6-4, Center

Andrew Petry, So., 6-3, Forward

 

Off the Bench

Jason Neal, Sr., 5-8, Guard

Donovan Stenson, So., 5-8, Guard

James Atkins, So., 5-8, Guard (Transfer from Academy Charter)

Joseph Jordan, Sr., 6-1, Guard

Aaron Kifner, Sr., 6-3, Forward

Davionne Pearson, Sr., 6-3, Forward

Knowlique Johnson, Sr., 5-9, Guard

Szemarr McGaskey, So., 5-6, Guard

Nathaneal Louis, Sr., 6-0, Guard

Jayden Myrthil, So., 5-10, Guard

Aaron Lawson, Jr., 6-0, Forward

 

6. Wall

Heading into last season, there were some striking parallels between Wall and Manasquan: two teams coming off sectional-championship seasons in 2020, trying to replace a significant number of starters lost to graduation while also dealing with a star player going down for the season with a torn ACL. Unfortunately for Wall, that is where the similarities ended. While Manasquan reloaded with a ready-made group of underclassmen, Wall was not as equipped to make the transition – particularly with standout point guard Colin Ackerman suffering a season-ending knee injury just before the start of the season.

After taking their lumps last year, the Crimson Knights will try to bounce back while playing in a Class C North division that is even more loaded than it was a season ago thanks to the overhaul at St. Rose and the addition of Ranney to the division. Wall will counter with a team that brings back some experience from 2021-22, when coach Bob Klatt experimented with a variety of combinations in search of help for the lineup. Matt Eisenberg, Joe Tvrdik and Jack McNulty were three of the players to step up as juniors last year and each brings a unique element to the lineup – Eisenberg as an all-around wing player, Tvrdik with some toughness on the perimeter and McNulty with his size at 6-5.

Sophomore Tom Ekberg and junior Bo Pepe will be looking to provide a spark to the starting lineup as first-year starters, while a trio of sophomores – Demitri Tu, Aiden O’Sullivan and Nick Olsen – provide some potential off the bench. The seniors in the starting lineup will set the tone, but if Wall is the climb out of the bottom of the standings and get back into the conversation at the top of a division and NJSIAA section again, the sophomores and juniors will be the players to watch heading into 2023 and beyond.

Head Coach: Bob Klatt, fifth season
2021-22 Record: 2-21 (0-12, seventh in Class C North)
Key Losses: Chris Mitchell, 6-0, Guard; Ryan Molloy, 6-0, Forward; Colin MacDermant, 6-0, Forward; Zach Veitch, 5-10, Guard

Projected Lineup (Returning Starters in Bold)

Matt Eisenberg, Sr., 6-2, Guard

Joe Tvrdik, Sr., 5-11, Guard

Jack McNulty, Sr., 6-5, Forward

Tom Ekberg, So., 6-1, Forward

Bo Pepe, Jr., 5-11, Guard

 

Off the Bench

Demitri Tu, So., 6-0, Guard

Aiden O’Sullivan, So., 6-0, Forward

Nick Olsen, So., 6-2, Forward

Andrew Olsen, Jr., 5-11, Guard

Quentin Ambrozy, Jr., 5-11, Guard

 

Class C North Starting Five (With 2021-22 stats)

Darius Adams, Manasquan (14.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 63 3-pointers)

Isaac Hester, Ranney (19.3 points, 43 3-pointers)

Stephen Mellett, Point Boro (9.4 points, 9.5 rebounds)

Ryan Frauenheim, Manasquan (9.8 points, 4.1 assists, 1.7 steals, 41 3-pointers)

Alex Konov, Manasquan (7.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 48 3-pointers)

 

Breakout Players to Watch

Matthew Hodge, St. Rose

Jahlil Bethea, Ranney

Peter Mauro, St. Rose

Quinn Peters, Manasquan

Andrew Petry, Neptune

 

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