All photos courtesy of Paula Lopez Images.

The 34th annual WOBM Christmas Classic saw Manasquan win its second boys championship in three years and Manchester claim the girls title for the first time ever. It also featured some very impressive individual performances and showcased younger players who have very bright futures.

Manasquan’s triumph was not unexpected and the Warriors picked the right time to play their best game in a 71-64 win over Toms River North in the final. Junior guard Brad McCabe capped a great tournament with 27 points, including six 3-pointers and was the obvious choice for the Causeway Family of Dealerships MVP award. McCabe scored 79 points in Manasquan’s four tournament victories which was one less than Marlboro’s 6’6 junior center Dylan Kaufman. Both were named to the All-Tournament first team along with Ryan Flanagan (Manasquan), Travis Holland and Mark Mogarte (TR North) and sophomore Charlie Gordinier who powered Red Bank Catholic to a third-place finish with a 59-48 win over Marlboro in the consolation game.

Earning spots on the All-Tournament second team were Alex Ratner (Marlboro), Ryan Purcell (Middletown South), Nick Silvia (TR East), Connor Costigan (Point Boro) and Carl Swenson (Lacey).

Marlboro’s bid for a spot in the finals suffered a major blow when senior point guard Brian Levine had to leave their semifinal clash with Toms River North because of severe leg cramps. The Mustangs eventually lost that game in overtime and Levine was not expected back for the consolation game but he returned although clearly not at 100%. His all-out hustle and determination led to him being selected for the prestigious Chuck Kearney Memorial Award.

While they were seeded number one many did not know if the Manchester Hawks were ready for the challenge in a crowded girl’s field that included defending champion Toms River North and perennial powers Ewing and Middletown South.

With a starting lineup that featured a freshman, two sophomores and a junior the Hawks cruised into the finals and then dethroned the Mariners 61-48 in a game that was never in doubt. Freshman Destiny Adams scored 12 of her game-high 28 points in the first quarter and became the first freshman to be named tournament MVP. Joining her on the first team were teammate Kamari Reynolds, Jenna Paul and Brielle Bisogno (TR North), Jessica Broad (Marlboro) and Mya Grimes who capped another outstanding WOBM Classic with 18 points as the Blue Devils captured third place for the second straight year with a 52-27 win over Middletown South.

The second All-Tournament team was made up of Dakota Adams (Manchester), Isla Brennan (Middletown South), Jordyn Madigan (TR East), Makayla Andrews (Neptune) and Wall’s Lauren Karabin who also received the Bob “Cz” Czarniewski Memorial Award for her overall effort, determination and sportsmanship during the tournament. 8 of the 11 girls honored are underclassmen and will return next year with only Broad, Grimes and Karabin seniors who played in the WOBM Classic for the final time.

The tournament continued a tradition by honoring an official from IAABO Shore Board 194 with John Scoras receiving the Arthur W. Harmon Memorial Award for his many years of service to the organization and the game of basketball in the shore area. Scoras was honored at halftime of the boy’s championship game and received the award from Harmon’s widow Lou, sons Tim and Matt and grandson Cooper.

Plans are already underway for the 35th annual WOBM Christmas Classic next December at the RWJBarnabas Health Arena.