B SOUTH on paper looks likes a two team race, but this division is loaded with land mines. There are a number of D1 players in the conference. They have two All Freshman players from a year ago, including the Freshman of the year. The best incoming freshman will also enter the conference. Donavan Catholic has a new coach and returns the nucleus of their team. Point. Boro lost its two best players from a year ago. Their prize freshman is injured and recovering from ACL surgery. Donovan Catholic has ruled this conference in the past. Either winning or sharing it. Barnegat surprised everyone last season and may be looking for more. A new era may be starting, for the first time in recent memory, Donovan Catholic will not enter the season as the Divisional favorite.
Conference– 13-1 (co-champions)
Coach– Dave Bucheiem
Manchester enter the season as the clear cut favorite in B South. If last season was a preview of what to come. Then this year, we just may see something very special. Manchester will be trying to join the elite programs in the state… NOW. The question is can they speed into the future this year. Now, would be a good time for opponents to get them, while they are still young and inexperienced. There talent is nothing short of impressive. They have a returning Asbury Press All Shore team member in Dakota Adams. They have the returning Freshman of the Year in Kermari Reynolds. They have the best incoming freshman in the state in Destiny Adams. Talent certainly won’t be an issue. The question is are they ready for the big stage. They have upgraded there schedule which includes a date with TOC champs Franklin in the Coaches Choice Challenge. They will be looking for a Top 20 season and to make a deep run in the SCT and State tournament…
While Manchester is stacked with returning and new talent. Make no mistake they lost some real pieces that matter. Dejah Adams, gave them toughness and senior play making ability. Her game winning three at the buzzer gave Manchester their first sectional title in schools history. Her defense and rebounding will be very hard to replace. Khamyia Spence has transferred to Tom River North. She was not just an elite defender, but a seasoned vet. Replacing her is just about impossible. She was a jock of all trades and played all three guard positions. Her versatility and experience was very important to last years success. A’Liah Moore is a surprise lost. She has accepted a full scholarship to Monmouth to play soccer. So will not play…she was a major defender and big time competitor. Here value did not show up in the box score.
This team checks just about every box. Talent, speed, defense, rebounding. But there is no check from the three point line. Shooting can become a real issue for this group. There is no doubt they can expect to see lots of zones defenses. They are very streaky and that could be a problem at some point in a big spot. Manchester has a lot battle tested players returning.
DAKOTA ADAMS – She was All Shore last season. A forgotten fact by most in the shore. She at times was dominate last season. She has had some monster nights with multiple double/doubles including a season high of 17 rebounds in one game last season. But it’s her defense and toughness that really make her special. Now the bad news, she is recovering from ACL surgery. She appears around 75%, the question is how long before we see her back at 100%.
ASHIA HARPER– She is a work horse and does all the dirty work. She is a underrated rebounder and defender. She also is willing to run the floor and be a role player on offense. But she has the ability to take over games, in 20 games she averaged 5 points and 5 rebounds when she became eligible, after transferring. Now she will have a full season, so watch out. She is a excellent passer with great hands who catches everything. But her real strength is her team player approach. She has brought into her role 100%. She is not a stat junkie and her stats do not tell her story. She is capable of filling a box score if asked to do so. She has she had many double figure scoring games. She is a seasoned senior.
NAHKALEIGH HAYES-JONES– Last season she played in 18 games last season and showed at times she could be a factor. She also has showed a ability to knock down shots and handle the ball. Something Manchester may crave before the year is over. After a year under her belt, she may bring some much needed shooting off the bench. She had some big nights shooting the ball in the fall league.
CAYLEIGH SHARRY– This is a name most have forgotten. But go back two years ago. Remember when Manchester was running though B SOUTH, in-touched and then the Adams sisters both blew out their ACL’s on the same day on consecutive plays. Well it was Sharry who stepped into the starting role and had 10 three’s in 16 games and played the 5 spot. She can face up and also guard bigger players. She has returned to the team and now will slide to the 3/4 positions. This a major pick up because it give Manchester more depth and size….and another seasoned player.
SERENITY ANDERSON– She may have been the most underrated freshman in the shore. She had a bucket full of double scoring games and some big nights. She also showed she is more than just a scorer. She is a proven rebounder and excellent passing wing player. She is murder in the open floor. The real question is did she get in the gym and make the next step. Because this is a possible D1 player in time. She has played in big B SOUTH games and is now battled tested. She will not fall apart in a be spot and forms a killer backcourt with Freshman of the year Karmari Reynolds.
KERMARI REYNOLDS– She is a future Power 5 player. She has multiple high major offers on the table right now. She was the 2016-17 FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR. The numbers in year one were off the charts. She scored in double figures in every game except one. Including a show stopping performance in a showdown against conference rival Pt. Boro… Where is scored 25 points and carried her team. She was the most dominate freshman in Ocean since Kelly Hughes. She is the best on ball defender in the shore and maybe the state. She lived in the gym during the fall. Her leadership skills are off the chart and understand this, she is a willing passer always. There is no question she is among the elite point guards in all of New Jersey.
DESTINY ADAMS– She is the most talented player to enter the shore in years. She is the biggest impact player to hit Ocean County ever. She is the most talented freshman in the state. She is the most recruited player in New Jersey these days. She is 6’3″ and can play all 5 positions. She has shown at times she can get on a three point shooting roll. She is un-guardable in transition and in the post. She crushed everyone that has been in her path this fall. She plays with a edge you cannot teach. This my friends is the future of Shore basketball and a future Top 10 player in the country.
MORGAN BRUSTMAN– Make no mistake this is a very important freshman. First she will be shooting to the table. Next she plays without making mistakes. She has been in the gym this fall and that will help with her adjustment to high school basketball. She already has close relationship with her teammates. She could be the difference in some big games this season. She also is tough as nails and not afraid to make plays…she is an impact baby.
There is going to be adjustment period for this team. First Kermari Reynolds and Destiny Adams must be willing to work together and not get caught up in who the star of the team is…they are both mega stars. Look for Dakota Adams to pick up the slack left behind her under appreciated sister Dejah Adams. There is no reason to believe a year later that SERENITY ANDERSON cannot pick up the slack behind by Spence. This team is going to play mega fast and pressure the ball. They are lighting quick at every position and can go 8 deep. They also have something very rare in young players…they play with a chip. This is a team nobody in the state what’s to run into late in the year. This team has serious talent and already defend. They ran off 14 straight wins after their WOBM lost to #14 Neptune. They just may run off with the B SOUTH TITLE.
There are some real questions when your two best shooters have limited experience. Next what happens when Kermari Reynolds is in foul trouble? They will go from the hunter to being hunted this year… how will they handle this? Finally what happens when the game slows down, can they adjust and more importantly will they handle adversity that will come at some point. They will start 2 sophomores and freshman who have yet to play on a major stage against a major team. That includes their brilliant young Head Coach Dave Beauchemin. The best great young teams in the past have failed this test. Will they be ready or will they sit back and wait for their time.
Conference– 13-1 (co- champions)
Coach – Dave Jansen(1st year)
For the first time in years Donovan Catholic is not the B South favorite going into the season. Jerry Bruno built a B South powerhouse but it wasn’t enough to keep his job. The school wanted more and enter Glenn Jansen. He will take over a talented group of wings and deadly shooters. He returns a All Freshman Team member and has some size up front. This team is not going to hand the title to Manchester. They have lots of pride and with a new coach may be able to get over the hump.
Jerry Bruno lost could be major if things go south early. While Donovan Catholic couldn’t get over the hump against the big girls. They were always a Top 10 team in the shore. He took the program from the bottom to the top in his time.
This group has a ton of experience and has won some big divisional games over the years. This group knows what to expect and on paper have all bases covered. They have shooters, size, quickness and scorers. They have a possible impact freshman. They will have to step it up across the board to keep up with Manchester.
MELISSA BUXTON– is ready for her final go round and make no mistake, she will be ready. She is far from a role player as she has taken over games in big moments. Like her 21 point 16 rebound against Point. Boro, in a game that decided the B South title. She is a warrior every step of the way. She is willing to do dirty work, but more importantly step up in big games. She will want to go out with a bang and another B South title. She had too many double figure scoring and rebound games to mention. She is the one player Donovan Catholic may not be able to replace.
ALYSSA HIRSCH– She was on the coaches All Division Team last year. She averaged 12 points a game. She scored in double figures in every game except three. She is an elite three point shooter. She also is a solid off ball defender, that saw her game take a major step forward this summer. There was talk she was moving into D1 status due to her strong summer. Donovan Catholic will need another big season if they hope to win B SOUTH.
PAIGE SLAVEN– If Donovan Catholic is going to take the next step it starts right here. Slaven was on the ALL FRESHMAN TEAM last season. It will be Slaven that will need to keep all the Donovan high volume shooters happy. The keys will be in her hands all season and her driving skills will need to be near perfect. Her work ethic and commitment this fall has been off the charts and it showed in the fall league. She also has the ability to make big shots and more importantly big plays for teammates. She knows when she needs to score and when to facilitate the offense. She is the by far one of the best rebounding point guards in the shore. She is the loose ball queen. Make no mistake Paige Slaven is moving into All star status. Lose Paige Slaven and it’s a wrap for Donovan Catholic.
VICTORIA GELOSI– She is a classic program kid. She is that kid who will hustle and do whatever she is asked to do. She has gained valuable experience and will be much needed off the bench. She saw action in 17 games and that will grow this season, she is a junior who has been part of a lot of winning.
JADA KEARNEY– She could be the difference for this team; this season. Jada Kearney, was a nice surprise. She played in 25 games last year and at times was special. The 6’0″ sophomore has a real upside. She one of the few freshman to post a double/double. She ended her season last year with a something for all to think about…12 points and 5 rebound against Top 20 Camden Catholic in the state tournament. She too could be a player to put Donovan Catholic over the top.
KAROLINA JARUSEVICIUTE– This future D1 swing/forward had a solid freshman season. She scored in every game except two with multiple double figure scoring games. Her 5 points a game and 5 rebounds were impressive when you understand the offense did not center on her. She is already an elite passer and floor runner. Her upside at 6’1″ cannot be understated. She is physical defender and not afraid to mix it up. She at some point will make a run at ALL SHORE. She could explode this season and nothing would make the Donovan Catholic crowd happier.
MOLLY COLLINS– She is a former All Freshman team member. She is an elite scorer and shooter. She at times this fall was off the charts. But it’s her next level vision that so many people are missing the boat on. She see’s the floor as well as any scorer in the shore. She is mega experienced and knows what to expect. She can get on major scoring rolls off the high screen and roll. She started last season with 5 straight double figure scoring games. There is no doubt this she is gearing up for a banner season. She has a history of carrying Donovan Catholic at times. She may have to do that at times this season. This is her senior year and she will want to leave her mark.
JORDYN KEATING– She could be a real find for Donovan Catholic. Keating has the ability to shoot the ball and get to the rim. She has a strong body and can defend bigger guards. The question is how long will it take her to adjust. She had nice moments in the fall league and at times showed real flashes in her fall workouts against D1 players. She could one day be a D1 player herself. For now she is a new toy for Coach Jansen to mold and a top freshman in Ocean County. Do not be surprised to se her in the starting lineup at some point, it Donovan goes small.
This is the real question. Coach Jansen teams at Colts Neck played a deliberate style. He did not have the horses he will inherit at Donavan Catholic. In the past Donovan Catholic played a very up temp offense with lots of three’s. There biggest problem was defense and if they are to win B South, they will need to step it up in this area…Manchester is loaded on offense. You are not going to out score them. My guess is Jansen will bring his Colts Necks defense philosophy and make some adjustments in shot selection. It’s very hard to predict what he has in store….it’s a nice advantage to start the season with …or is it? Here is what I do know there is real pressure to win a big game this year for Donovan Catholic. They have been waiting on a program win for years…this could be the year!
There are two burning questions with this group. Will they finally commit to defense? Can they find real chemistry? Donovan Catholic gave up a ton of points last season. In each game they had a chance for a program win…they gave up over 60 points. Not the way to get that big win. Next at times Donovan Catholic appears to be trying to out score each other rather than their opponent. Coach Jansen will need to clean both of these area’s up in order to move his program to the next level…which is why he was hired to begin with.
The only surprise you can expect is if Manchester or Donovan Catholic don’t win B South. There simply is no other team with there talent to compete.
Tammy Nicolini was masterful last year in taking her team to new heights. She was named COACH OF THE YEAR for here work. She lost program mainstay Ashley Toner and a group of hard working seniors. So trying to pull off back to back dream seasons may be very difficult. But what Coach Nicolini does have is a superstar in Shannon McCoy who last year was as good as any player in the conference. She was brilliant all season. Barnegat may not have enough to win B South, it’s a talent issue. But make no mistake Coach Nicolini has made a reputation of getting her kids to play above their level. It why she may not be able to win the B South, but can be the ultimate spoiler. Her kids play hard and they have a punchers chance with the team of Nicolini and McCoy.
Point Boro has been crushed by graduation and to make things worse, ALL FRESHMAN TEAM member Kate Letrugez is recovering from ACL surgery. Lacey…Jackson Liberty…Lakewood…Pineland are all lacking in overall talent to make a run. But they can all compete with each other. Making the State or SCT tournament would be a major accomplishment for now.
This is clearly a two team race. The talent runs deep as in real. Both teams shared the title the last 2 years. This year could be the tie breaker. Manchester is not just the team of the future in B SOUTH. They could be the team of the future period in the state and the shore. I believe this is just a small step in the what the future looks… MANCHESTER WINS B SOUTH.
2017-18 B SOUTH PRE- SEASON AWARDS
PLAYER OF THE YEAR– KEMARI REYNOLDS
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR– DESTINY ADAMS
COACH OF THE YEAR– DAVE BEAUCHEMIN
KEMARI REYNOLDS– SOPHMORE- MANCHESTER
DAKOTA ADAMS-JR- MANCHESTER
SHANNON McCoy–SR- BARNEGAT
MOLLY COLLINS–JR-DONAVAN CATHOLIC
PAIGE SLAVEN-SOPHOMORE- DONOVAN CATHOLIC
12/8- Donovan Catholic@Manchester…6.30pm
2/27- Manchester@Franklin high school…3.40pm