The Shore in Group 3

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Since the 2010 season, four different programs have represented the Shore Conference in the Group III championship game: Holmdel, Toms River South, Ocean and Wall. By this measure, Group III is the group in which the Shore conference was most successful; Holmdel is almost entirely responsible for Shore’s success in Group II and the same goes for Christian Brothers Academy in Non-Public A.

There is no shortage of suitors yet in 2022 and there could be a few new candidates to represent the Shore in the Group III final, especially as both Holmdel and Wall are in Group II this season. Ocean and Toms River South will be among them, but Colts Neck, Middletown North, Neptune, Middletown South and Jackson Liberty also have big plans for the next two weeks.

The Group III field is looking like a competitive field again and the Shore should once again be a factor in deciding a champion.

Colts Neck senior Jairo Chira. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)

Colts Neck senior Jairo Chira. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)

Central Jersey Group III

Ground teams in the field: No. 3 Colts Neck, No. 4 Neptune, No. 6 Jackson Liberty, No. 7 Middletown North, No. 8 Middletown South, No. 9 Ocean, No. 11 Freehold Boro, No. 14 Matawan, No. 16 Brick Memorial
Best seed: Robbinsville
Defending Champion: Hopewell Valley
Favorite 2022: Robinsville. After losing to Steinert on opening day, Robbinsville’s only losses are two to Notre Dame – the No. 2 seed in non-public A South Jersey – and one to the central seed in Group II, Bordentown. The Ravens also have two wins over No. 2 seed Hopewell Valley, so all indications are that Robbinsville is ready to score the bullseye.
Black Horse: Ocean. There are Shore teams all over Central Group III and there are four that will be on the road to opening the tournament. Ocean appears to be in the best position to play deep in the group, with the Spartans starting the year looking like perhaps one of the top five teams in the Shore Conference. The road has been bumpy since then, but Ocean remains a team with playoff pedigree and should be ready to face a tough first-round opponent in Middletown South and, potentially, a shot at No. 1 Robbinsville. Brick Memorial is another interesting team considering the Mustangs have had six draws this season, so Robbinsville could struggle in the first round. On the other side of the range, Matawan is also battle tested and Freehold Boro enters the tournament a hot team after winning the Shore Coaches’ Cup.
Distribution of supports: The Shore has at least three teams that have at times played level with a sectional championship favorite: Colts Neck, Middletown North and Middletown South. Consistency has been an issue with Middletown South, while Middletown North are a hot team entering the tournament. Colts Neck, meanwhile, has done well against a wide range of teams this season and has the kind of scoring that will be hard for teams to stop. Two other teams to watch are Neptune and Jackson Liberty, both of which have been on the verge of breaking out at times and have rosters of seniors eager to make a run.
Championship prediction: No. 3 Colts Neck on No. 4 Neptune. An early-round loss in the Shore Conference Tournament should serve Neptune well over the next week, with the Scarlet Fliers finally looking to put it all together after bouncing back from a big run for most of the season. If the Cougars and Scarlet Fliers meet in the Finals, it would be an All-B-North Finals and a rematch of a Colts Neck 3-2 regular season win.

Neptune senior Ernst Louisius. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)

Neptune senior Ernst Louisius. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)

South Jersey Group III

Ground teams in the field: No. 6 Toms River South, No. 11 Lacey
Best seed: Shawnee
Defending Champion: No. 12 Moorestown
Favorite 2022: Shawnee. The Renegades have long been a Group IV team and still play a busy schedule of Group IV opponents, so they will be one of the most battle-hardened teams in all of Group III. They’re not an unbeatable Shawnee team – the Renegades have two losses and four draws this season – but they are the best-placed team to lift the trophy on November 5.
Black Horse: Moorestown. The Quakers will start the tournament at No. 12 and will be very tough for No. 5 Delsea and, potentially, No. 4 Ocean City. Moorestown already has a win this season over Shawnee, so he went with the best Group III has to offer in the southern half of the state and won. If you’re looking for a potential Lacey leak, the Lions have suffered a shocking number of tight losses this year and if fortunes are to turn their way at some point, it may start with the first round against Toms River South, followed by a potential trip to Cherry Hill West.
Distribution of supports: Toms River South showed they were ready for the tournament by winning the Shore Conference Tournament at Neptune and taking Marlboro to overtime in the Shore Conference Tournament Round of 16. Beating Lacey for the second time in just over a week won’t be easy. , because the Lions have enough talent to make a run.
Championship prediction: Shawnee No. 1 over Cherry Hill West No. 3. While there is plenty of room for some upsets, this bracket is likely to come down to Shawnee and Cherry Hill West, with Hammonton, Moorestown and Toms River South among the teams which could make noise.

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