The 15th annual Boardwalk Hoop Group Showcase will take place on Saturday, Jan. 10 at Long Branch High School and will feature five games this year, which has a total nine Shore Conference boys basketball teams participating and six of those teams are ranked.
Here is a breakdown of each game.
Long Branch vs Shore
The unranked host Green Wave (0-5) have struggled to start the season and are currently tied for second-to-last place in the Class B North division. The team is very young and coach Stan Mooney said “the team is looking to build off its youthful foundation and hope to make progress throughout the season.” Unfortunately, that might take a little bit longer than anticipated. One of those youngsters Fred Reeves had a good game (20 points) in a 63-52 loss to Marist during the Neptune Holiday Jubilee. On the other hand, No. 10 Shore Regional (4-2), which is tied for third place in the Class A Central division, is a veteran team led by an array of stars like Dan Largey, Jack Byrne and Kevin Bloodgood. Shore finished in third place at the Albert E. Martin Buc Holiday Classic but overall has lost two of its last three games. But the Blue Devils should get another win from this game.
THE PICK: Shore 65, Long Branch 52
Neptune vs Lakewood
At the beginning of the season, this was probably the best matchup on paper but things have changed for both the Scarlet Fliers (2-5, last place in Class B North division) and Lakewood (7-0, first place in Class B South division). In the late 2000s, Neptune had the edge over Lakewood in these classic showdowns but that has changed as the Piners have controlled the showdowns over the last few years. Granted two of Neptune’s losses are by less than three points so the Scralet Fliers could easily be 4-3 right now but Lakewood has secured convincing win one-after-another including a victory over No. 3 ranked Point Beach on Jan. 3. Neptune, which has the Kirkwood twins Kerry and Keishawn and Marcque Ellington leading them, should push Lakewood to the limit in this one but the Piners are deeper, more experience and more talented (Amir Tyler, Sean Barksdale, Ryan Lawrence and Tyreek Grayson) right now.
THE PICK: Lakewood 50, Neptune 41
CBA vs St. Anthony
This is one of CBA’s better teams and they have legit players in Pat Andree, Jack Laffey (Adelphi recruit) and Jack McGuire to bolster its starting lineup. But don’t discount the ability of Shaun Belbey or John Salcedo’s abilities to make a big play in this game. The Colts are ranked No. 1 in the Asbury Park Press top 10 for a reason as they are by far the best team in the Shore Conference but even with that said, St. Anthony is way better ranked No. 2 in the state by NJHoops.com and boasts the Wichita State-bound forward Markis McDuffie and NJIT recruit Mohamed Bendary, both seniors. If CBA slows the game down a little bit, the Colts have a better chance at the upset.
THE PICK: St. Anthony 62, CBA 53
Rumson-Fair Haven vs Point Beach
If there is an upset to be had in the Boardwalk Hoop Group showcase lineup, this is the game where it could happen. Rumson-Fair Haven just upset No. 10 Shore Regional, 56-46, on Tuesday, Jan. 6 and it isn’t inconceivable that the Bulldogs couldn’t do it on Saturday with Brendan Barry, Thomas Famulary and Alex Geiger leading the way. But Point Beach, the defending SCT champion, isn’t an easy opponent to stop with Jesse Hill on the inside surrounded by guards Michael and Danny Frauenheim, Jimmy Panzini and Michael Rice.
The No. 3 Garnet Gulls (5-2, first place in Class B Central) have played a tougher schedule and shouldn’t be fazed too much by an upset-minded and unranked Bulldogs squad (4-2, tied for second place in Class A Central). This game should be closer than people think it is going to be.
THE PICK: Point Beach 50, Rumson-Fair Haven 45
Matawan vs Manasquan
The No. 7 Huskies began the season as the APP’s No. 2 ranked team but losses in three of their last four games (Manalapan, Red Bank and Colts Neck) had them tumble to the lower-third of the latest rankings. A bad loss here against No. 9 Manasquan and the Huskies could be out of the next top 10 and into others receiving votes. Despite the recent struggles, the Huskies do have a talented backcourt in the Hartford-bound Jason Dunne and Joe Piscopo and could snap out of their funk with a victory against Manasquan. However, Manasquan is the better team right now led by Ryan Jensen (13.6 ppg, league-leading 13.1 rebounds and 3.1 bpg) so expect the Warriors to feed the ball to Jensen in the post early and often to take advantage of Matawan’s young front court. If Matawan stops the post entries, expect Luke Sheehan (14.3 ppg ) and Aidan McMenaman (11.6 ppg) to start knocking down shots. The Warriors are deeper and overall more experienced and that will be an asset in this game
THE PICK: Manasquan 65, Matawan 50
Sherlon Christie: firstname.lastname@example.org