TOMS RIVER - Toms River North junior Mike Nyisztor has seen opposing defenses try all sorts of things to keep him from getting his shot off over the last year, so when he draws a defensive assignment like the one coach Rory Caswell gave him on Monday in the WOBM Christmas Classic semifinals against Freehold Township, he can put himself in his opponent's shoes.

Not only did Nyisztor again rise to the occasion shooting the ball in a late-round WOBM Classic game, but he played a lock-down defensive game to help the second-seeded Mariners beat the No. 6 Patriots, 61-50, and advance to the tournament championship game for the second straight year.

Nyisztor scored eight of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and held Freehold Township junior guard Bobby Weise to four points on 1-for-5 shooting while also swiping four steals. Weise erupted for 30 points and a tournament record nine three-pointers in Freehold Township's quarterfinal win over Manchester on Saturday, which broke Nyisztor's record of eight that he set as a sophomore last year.

Toms River North junior Mike Nyisztor drives on Freehold Township junior Bobby Wiese. (Photo by Matt Manley)

"We were here early (on Saturday) and we were watching (Weise) put on a show," Nyisztor said. "He's a great shooter - anyone who makes nine threes is a performer. Today I just tried my best to stick with him and not give him any open looks, but watching him (Saturday) really gave us a chance to see what he could do, along with everyone else who was watching.

"Last year, a couple teams tried taking me out of the game and sometimes I struggled. I just tried to play my own game, but I know it's hard when you're not getting touches so that's what I tried to do to him."

Despite Nyisztor's defensive work on Weise, Freehold Township led Toms River North 37-34 late in the third quarter before the Mariners took over. Senior Pat Marinaccio drained a three from the left corner to tie the game and ignite a 14-3 run that put Toms River North ahead 48-40 by the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter.

Marinaccio scored a team-high 20 points in the third quarter and also inhaled 13 rebounds.

"When we buy in to what our coach is saying, we can do a lot of things," Marinaccio said. "We can go really far. We had a six-point lead and we blew that before halftime. We listened to what (Caswell) had to say in the locker room for a halftime speech and just bought into what he was telling us and got the job done."

Toms River North won its first three games of the season by an average margin of 31 points, but found itself in a close game in the fourth quarter for the first time all season on Monday. The two teams were tied after both the first and second quarters and Toms River North only took the lead at the end of the third on a drive to the basket by junior Darrion Carrington (seven points and five assists) with under a minute to play - a basket that gave the Mariners the lead for good.

"It was great to see us pull through," Nyisztor said. "It was the first close game this year, but last year, we had a lot of experience in tight situations late in the game, so we know what it takes to close them out."

Senior Nick Facendo led Freehold Township with 21 points and junior Steve Staklinski chipped in 15 in the loss. After Weise fouled out with a little under two minutes left and Freehold Township down 53-46, Nyisztor finished up the game on Facendo.

Toms River North - the host school of the tournament - will go for its second straight WOBM Classic championship and third in four years Wednesday night against top-seeded Manasquan.

"When we get to playing other teams' games, it hasn't worked out for us," Marinaccio said. "When we play our game and get the tempo we want, things usually work out, so that's what we're going to try to keep doing."

Box Score

Toms River North 61, Freehold Twp. 50

1 2 3 4 F
Freehold Twp. (3-2) 14 12 13 11 50
Toms River North (4-0) 14 12 15 20 61


Freehold Twp. (50): Nick Facendo 5 9-9 21, Bobby Weise 1 1-2 4, John Carroll 1 1-3 3, Ryan Zyskowski 2 1-2 5, Steve Staklinski 5 3-8 15, Ryan Cardone 1 0-0 2, Stefan Williams 0 0-0 0, Ja’Zeem Foster 0 0-0 0, Tyler Von Nessen 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15 15-24 50

Three-pointers: Facendo 2, Weise, Staklinski 2

Fouled Out: Weise

Toms River North (61): Darrion Carrington 2 3-6 7, Mike Nyisztor 8 0-0 18, Jaden Rhoden 2 4-6 8, Pat Marinaccio 6 5-6 20, Hunter Petrick 2 0-0 5, Anthony Storino 1 1-1 3, Mike Husni 0 0-0 0, Mark Mogarte 0 0-0 0, Quinten Manning 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 13-19 61

Three-pointers: Nyisztor 2, Marinaccio 3, Petrick