The Shore Conference Basketball Tournament opens today with a whopping 27 boys and 24 girls teams competing for the title of being the kings and queens of basketball in the two-county area.

Both brackets are top-heavy, especially on the girls side where only the top four teams have a realistic chance to win the championship while history at least tells us the boys division has a better chance to produce upsets.  What you can almost guarantee is continued dominance by teams from Monmouth County.

Ranney & Mater Dei Prep are the top two seeds among the boys teams and odds-on favorites to meet in the championship game on Saturday, February 24 at Monmouth University’s OceanFirst Bank Center.  Rumson-Fair Haven and surging Neptune round out the top four and the top Ocean County threat is 8th seeded Toms River North, who will host Raritan tonight.  The Mariners reached the final four last winter and gave eventual champion Mater Dei Prep all they could handle before falling in the semifinals.

While Monmouth County teams have dominated the event teams south of the county line have had some success.  Lakewood and Point Beach won the SCT in 2013 and 2014 and Donovan Catholic twice reached the finals in the last 11 years.

On the girls side it’s been as predictable as night and day and there’s no reason to expect any changes this time around.  St. John Vianney, Manasquan, Red Bank Catholic and St. Rose are the top four seeds and those four schools have combined to win the last six titles by often beating one another.

The girls tournament dates back to 1972 and the only Ocean County teams to win it were Brick in that first year and Southern in 1984.  As a matter of fact only Point Boro in 2013 and Toms River North in 2004 have reached the championship game in the last 25 years.

However this has been a better winter for Ocean County girls hoops with Manchester, Toms River North, Donovan Catholic and Jackson Memorial all seeded in the top nine and looking to make some headlines of their own over these next couple of weeks.  Sooner or later someone is going to break-up the party at the top and maybe that happens this year.