With the state tournament cutoff date just about two weeks away – Saturday, February 11th – a handful of teams in two sections are battling it out for top-seeds in the state tournament. We’ve got a section-by-section look below of where every team in the Central Jersey Sports Radio coverage area – the GMC and Somerset County – stands heading into play on Monday, January 30th:
Central Jersey Group 4
This is one of the sections where the top-seed could be up for grabs, depending on the strength of schedule the next few weeks for South Brunswick and Monroe. While the first place team – Hightstown (16-2, 493 points) appears comfortably ahead – one has to remember that the top 16 games count toward power points. That means teams that have won 16 games, as Hightstown has, have little room to increase their total. But teams like the Vikings (13-5, 400) and Falcons (10-6, 390) have a lot of room to make up points. South Brunswick, for example, could pick up three more wins and make up significant ground. Will it be enough? We’ll see. Teams often add games late if they need them, so it’s probably too early to call at this point.
Elsewhere in the section, Old Bridge (11-7, 356) sits in sixth-place, and is a good bet to finish in the top eight, earning a first-round home game, but it’s not a sure thing for the Knights yet. Likewise for East Brunswick (8-9, 309), which is in ninth, but just nine points out of the top eight. North Brunswick is in 14th with a 4-13 record and 221 points, and Montgomery (2-16, 192) sits in 17th.
Central Jersey Group 3
Of the four area teams in this section, half are solidly in. Somerville (9-8, 329) is in fifth, a long way from top team Ewing (17-2, 574). South Plainfield (9-9, 267) sits in 8th. Neither team is likely a lock for the top eight at this point.
Similarly, JFK (5-14, 217, 13th) and Carteret (7-12, 208, 15th) are on the right side of the bubble, but may need some wins to really sew things up. Three teams behind them are within 50 points, not an insurmountable obstacle if they can put a few good wins together these last two weeks.
Central Jersey Group 2
Four teams from the CJSR-area should make the field here, where Manasquan (15-4, 481) is the top team right now, with a narrow lead over New Providence (14-3, 479).
Spotswood (15-4, 406) is tied with Holmdel (13-6) for fourth, with Metuchen (13-6, 372) behind them. Then South River (9-10) and Bound Brook (7-8) are tied with Voorhees (9-7) for ninth, all at 308 points, and just three ahead of Delran (9-6).
Central Jersey Group 1
All eight area teams are on the right side of things here, with Middlesex (13-4, 284) just 45 points behind section leader Shore (16-2, 429). That’s not an impossible hill to climb for the Blue Jays, who have a huge matchup with North Plainfield Tuesday at 5:30, which can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.
As an example of how much a win can do when you haven’t yet hit the 16-win plateau, a win over the Canucks would be worth 45 points in their 18th game. With 17 in the books now, their lowest score of 6 points comes off, but one more win would knock off their next lowest score, a 7-point game (a loss to Woodbridge). That’s a net gain of 38 points and gets them closer. Knocking a loss off the schedule allows for a bigger gain than Shore, which already has 16 wins, and would only be knocking off a lesser-quality win from their power point total.
In any event, Dunellen (13-3, 329) is having a fine year, and checks in fourth, just 21 points behind Point Pleasant Beach (15-2, 350). Behind the Lady Destroyers are Perth Amboy Magnet (12-2, 314) and Highland Park (10-7, 297).
Further down the list, outside the top eight, is Woodbridge Magnet (6-9, 201) in 10th and Manville (5-10, 191) checking in at No. 11, unlikely to move up much more than that.
In 14th and 15th, but still likely to be in the field of 16, are Somerset Tech (3-10, 130) and South Amboy (1-13, 122).
North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4
Here’s another section loaded with teams from the CJSR coverage area. Bayonne (17-3, 534) is No. 1, with Elizabeth (19-0, 509) not far behind. With 17 wins already, Edison (17-2, 489) will be hard-pressed to make up that kind of ground, same for Watchung Hills (15-4, 485), which is only one win below the 16-victory threshold.
Right around that top eight bubble are three more teams: Woodbridge (10-8, 360), Ridge (10-8, 349) and Hillsborough (10-7, 342) are within 18 points of each other, but the last of them – the Raiders – are 34 points ahead of the next team back, 8-8 Union.
Toward the bottom, you’ve got Franklin (7-9, 257) – which is having an off year – and JP Stevens (7-12, 240) in 14th and 15th, respectively. They’re probably a good bet for the playoffs, especially with another win or two, and Perth Amboy (5-11, 227) could make a run with a win or two in the next few weeks.
North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3
Just two area teams are in this section, and both are locks to be in the playoffs, but a little more murky as to whether they’ll be in the top eight. Colonia (10-9, 381) and North Plainfied (13-4, 362) are fifth and sixth, respectively. But there are four teams behind the Canucks within 20 points, including Governor Livingston (10-8, 350), Warren Hills (11-7, 348), Cranford (9-9, 347) and West Morris (11-4, 342).
Randolph (15-1, 536) is comfortably in the lead in this section.
North Jersey, Section 1, Group 2
There’s just one area team even in this section: Bernards (12-5, 321) sits in 13th place, pretty much in the postseason, and still potentially a chance to reach the top eight. In fact, everyone is bunched up in this section, and anyone could see a lot of movement. To wit: the Mountaineers are only 34 points out of 6th place.
The top team at the moment is Secaucus (17-1, 541).
Non-Public North B
Of course, the top of the non-public sections are loaded with talent, and Gill St. Bernard’s, as a result, sits in fifth at 12-4, with 352 points. They’re just ten points behind Montclair-Immaculate (14-3, 361) in fourth and Morris Catholic (15-3, 371) in third, but likely won’t catch Lodi Immaculate (14-3, 493) in second or top team Saddle River Day (13-5, 536).
Mother Seton of the GMC checks in at 11, with a 3-10 record and 131 points.
Non-Public South B
Defending group champion Rutgers Prep sits in fourth in the section, at 13-3 with 354 points. They’re a long way from top-teams Wildwood Catholic (16-4, 529) in first and St. Rose (16-3, 525) in second, but no matter.
Calvary Christian (8-9, 239) and Timothy Christian (4-12, 187), sit in 9th and 11th, respectively.
Non-Public South A
St. John Vianney leads the pack here pretty well, at 20-0 with 585 points. They’re the team to beat in New Jersey, but with no more Tournament of Champions, they’ll have to settle for the team to beat in Non-Public Group A.
Mount St. Mary (13-6, 474) is in fourth, but could make up some ground on third-place red Bank Catholic (18-1, 516), but probably not Trinity Hall (17-2, 535). St. Thomas Aquinas (15-4, 468) is right behind Mount.
Then, there’s Pingry (11-7, 378) and Immaculata (9-9, 279) checking in at No. 11, tied with Union Catholic (7-9).