Boys Basketball – Shore Sports Network 2021-22 Player of the Year: Jack Seidler, Marlboro
When Jack Seidler and his fellow classmates from the Class of 2022 entered Marlboro High School in the fall of 2018, they did so with something that no class of Marlboro boys basketball players had at such an early age: championship expectations.
Sure, there were expectations in past years, but those were more or less manufactured by those players. Seidler and his fellow freshmen entered a program that now bestowed expectations upon them.
Seidler did not just live up to the standard of the trailblazing Marlboro classes that preceded him. He and his classmates set the new standard.
With fellow seniors Jon Spatola, Jay Ratner, Zack Molod and Vin Spatola, Seidler carried Marlboro’s boy basketball program to heights that far surpassed what any team in school history had reached before. As the team’s leading scorer and its best big-game performer during a historic postseason run for the Mustangs, Seidler is the 2021-22 Shore Sports Network Player of the Year – the first ever Player of the Year of any kind for the Marlboro boys basketball program.
“I wanted to stay at home and put Marlboro on the map,” Seidler said. “We have been playing together since third grade and we really feel like we had something special. Chemistry is a big part of basketball and our starting five has probably the best chemistry in the state. We really feel like we did something amazing.”
On their own merits, Seidler’s numbers were worthy of Player of the Year consideration, even though none were tops in the Shore Conference. He finished third at the Shore with 20.9 points per game to go with an even six rebounds per game and just under two assists.
To get to the heart of Seidler’s Player of the Year case, however, requires a look at how he performed in some of Marlboro’s biggest games, as well as what those games meant to the program and to the Shore Conference in the grand scheme.
Marlboro reached the Shore Conference Tournament championship game for the second time in program history and third including the unofficial 2021 Shore Conference postseason. After losses in the prior two appearances – including to Manasquan in the 2021 game – the Mustangs put it all together on Feb. 27 in Toms River and claimed the program’s first SCT title.
Seidler was the Marlboro standout in the win, scoring a game-high 22 points and earning the game’s Most Valuable Player award for helping the Mustangs cross the finish line to claim the trophy.
In the NJSIAA Group IV playoffs, Seidler came up even bigger. He scored a game-high 25 points in a 77-64 sectional-quarterfinal win over Howell that saw the Mustangs close the game with a 25-3 run after falling behind, 61-52, with under six minutes to play.
Then following round, Seidler again led the way with 16 points in a therapeutic, 55-46, win over the same South Brunswick team that stunned Marlboro at the buzzer on the Mustangs’ home floor in the 2020 Central Jersey Group IV final.
That set up a showdown with seventh-seeded Trenton – a junior-heavy squad peaking at the right time of the season. Marlboro’s seniors proved the difference, with Seidler scoring a team-high 22 points and helping his team close out a 75-67 win over the Tornadoes to deliver Marlboro its first ever Central Group IV sectional title.
Two days after the biggest win in school history, Marlboro had to summon the energy to take on a Lenape team led by Rutgers commit Derek Simpson and with a roster loaded enough to put the Indians at the top of the list of Group IV contenders heading into the season. It did not start well for Marlboro either, with Lenape jumping out to a 25-12 lead midway through the second quarter and the Mustangs offense stuck in the mud.
The Marlboro defense saved the Mustangs, as did Seidler, who scored 16 of Marlboro’s 22 points in the first half to get the deficit down to three by intermission. The rest of the cast got on board down the stretch and the Mustangs pulled out a thrilling, 49-47 win, with Seidler again going for a game-high 24 points.
In the Group IV final at Jersey Mike’s Arena on the campus of Rutgers University, Seidler again was on his game. The 6-foot-5 senior went for 19 points and hit two three-pointers in the final two minutes trying to keep Marlboro alive as the Mustangs were attempting to rally. Ultimately, Elizabeth shot lights-out in the second half and the Minutemen denied the Mustangs their first group championship, 70-63, which would have been the Shore Conference’s first Group IV champion since 1981.
Although the Mustangs did not end the Shore’s Group IV title drought, they came closer to winning the Group IV championship than any team since Neptune’s stunning run to the 1981 title. They are also the first Group IV team to win the Shore Conference Tournament championship since Freehold Township in 2006-07.
All those accolades for a team from Marlboro – a program that, prior to Seidler’s arrival at the varsity level as a sophomore in 2019-20, had been to one Shore Conference Tournament championship game and had never played in an NJSIAA sectional final.
When Seidler first joined the varsity team, the Mustangs used him in the front court out of necessity and over the past two seasons, he evolved into a versatile wing who beat teams facing up and with his back to the basket.
“I have worked so hard, not even just in the season but in the offseason,” Seidler said. “Sophomore year, I had a big year, averaged 18 (points) or something close to that, but I really feel like I have developed my game a lot. I was kind of playing the five, playing off of Alex (Ratner). So much attention on him helped me a lot.
“All those late nights and early mornings working out, working on my shot, working on my handle really allowed me to be the focal point of the offense – be more of a guard, bring up the ball. I feel like that really helped me and that will help me in the future.”
Seidler leaves Marlboro as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,503 points, a three-time All-Shore selection and a two-time First Team selection.
Although he is undecided about where his basketball career will continue next season, Seidler’s place in Marlboro history – as well as within Shore Conference history – is cemented.