Photo Gallery by Bill Normile

TOMS RIVER – On the surface, sophomore Mike Nyisztor and junior Pat Marinaccio lack the big-game, varsity experience that many other players throughout the WOBM Christmas Classic field have, but in many ways, games like the one in which they played on Tuesday night are in their blood.

Listen to the game broadcast at the end of this report

Both Nyisztor and Marinaccio have older brothers who have played on WOBM championship teams, and Tuesday night against Red Bank Catholic in the WOBM final, the two young Mariners followed in the family footsteps and furthered the Toms River North winning tradition in the 31-year-old tournament.

Nyisztor and Marinaccio scored 16 points apiece and Nyisztor knocked down two key 3-pointers in the final three minutes to help lead Toms River North – the No. 4 seed in the tournament – to a 50-45 win over the No. 2 Caseys for their second championship in three years and fourth overall.

Photo by Bill Normile

“I can remember coming to this tournament as a kid, watching my brother play and hoping I got a chance to play in a championship game like he did,” said Nyisztor, whose older brother Steve was the MVP of the 2007 tournament. “On a team like this, I really just need to do my part. We have so many good players and so many guys who know how to step up in big situations that I all I really need to do is work hard on both ends.”

In four tournament games, Nyisztor averaged 18 points, and his three-point touch was instrumental in leading Toms River North to the final three of its WOBM victories. After hitting the game-winning three in a quarterfinal win over Manchester and draining eight triples in Monday’s semifinal win over Toms River South, Nyisztor waited out a defensive game plan geared to stopping him and hit two threes that swung the game back in Toms River North’s favor.

“I think we learned about the kind of clutch player he is when we drew the play up for him against Manchester and he knocked it down with no hesitation,” Toms River North coach Rory Caswell said. “He’s a really hard-working, humble kid who really just loves to play basketball and loves to play with this team. We have a bunch of guys like that, and I think that’s one of the main reasons why we’ve had so many different guys step up and contribute.”

With Red Bank Catholic in the midst of an 8-0 run that put the Caseys up 40-39, Nyisztor came off a screen, took a pass from senior Evan Martin at the top of the key and knocked down a contested 3-pointer that gave Toms River North the lead for good. The sophomore then stretched the lead to five with a three on the next Mariners possession.

Nyisztor also converted a four-point play in the first half during a 10-0 Toms River North run that erased a 19-10 Red Bank Catholic lead.

WOBM Christmas Classic MVP Mike Nyisztor. (Photo by Bill Normile)

“What I really liked was they (RBC) were crowding him for most of the game and he wasn’t forcing up shots,” Caswell said. “He let the game come to him and when it came time where we needed to make some shots, he worked to get open and lately, when he’s been open, it’s usually going in.”

Marinaccio helped give Toms River North a 39-32 lead by scoring 12 of his 16 points in the final two quarters. He scored nine points during a stretch of just under four minutes between the third and fourth quarters, during which the Mariners outscored the Caseys 14-7 and took a 39-32 lead.

“We have a really good feel for each other so we all know when it’s time to get the ball to a certain player,” senior guard Evan Martin said. “Then, if one guy is hot in the first half, we know the other team is probably going to make an adjustment and we’re already a step ahead looking for the guy they are leaving open.”

“That’s the great thing about playing for this team,” Nyisztor added. “Anyone on any night could get hot, and we just wait and see who that guy is going to be and we feed him. Tonight, Pat was the guy who carried the load for a long stretch and at the end, I got a couple shots that I needed to knock down and I hit them.”

The Mariners endured a defensive letdown for a stretch of the second quarter when Red Bank Catholic took control of the game, but flipped the script thanks to their defense. Toms River North forced 14 Caseys turnovers in all, including eight in the first half.

“We take pride in our defense and we were able to hold them to 20 points in the first half, which is not bad,” said Marinaccio, who earned All-Tournament first-team honors. “It was just a matter of us maintaining our intensity and trying to carry that over into our offense, and I think once we starting getting consecutive stops and some turnovers, it led to some easy baskets.”

Martin is the lone holdover from the WOBM championship rotation from 2012, which went on to win the Class A South championship, advance to the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals and win a school-record 25 games against just four losses.

“My brother played on the team two years ago that went 25-4,” said Marinaccio, whose brother Ron played big minutes off the bench on the 2012-13 team. “That’s a big number to shoot for and that’s the year we want to have as well.”

These Mariners have a long way to go in order to reach the same heights as the 2012-13 team, but a 5-0 start to the season with a WOBM championship is exactly how the Mariners drew it up. The Mariners return every main piece from last year’s rotation, which began the season 3-6 before going 12-5 down the stretch.

“Even going back to last year, I could see the talent that was on this team,” Martin said, thinking back to the early-season practices with a group of junior varsity and freshmen players from the year prior. “Even though we were young and inexperienced, I knew it was only a matter of time before we would be back to where we are now.”

All-Tournament Teams

MVP: Mike Nyisztor, Toms River North

Chuck Kearney Award: Evan Martin, Toms River North

First Team

Tymere Berry, Toms River South

Ryan Jensen, Manasquan

Liam Byrne, Red Bank Catholic

Evan Madigan, Red Bank Catholic

Pat Marinaccio, Toms River North

Second Team

Shavar Reynolds, Manchester

Aaron Scheiderman, Brick Memorial

Chris Iapicco, Lacey

Kyle Czajkowski, Freehold Twp.

John Venturi, Point Boro

Box Score

Toms River North 50, Red Bank Catholic 45

1

2

3

4

F

Toms River North (5-0)

6

14

12

18

50

Red Bank Catholic (4-2)

9

11

7

18

45

 

Toms River North (50): Darion Carrington 1 2-5 4, Evan Martin 3 0-1 6, Jordan Craig 2 1-2 5, Pat Marinaccio 6 3-4 16, Mike Nyisztor 4 5-5 16, Ted Thelemaque 1 0-0 3, Kevin Blum 0 0-0 0, Mike Husni 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 11-17 50

Three-pointers: Marinaccio, Nyisztor 3, Thelemaque

Red Bank Catholic (45): Joe Montano 1 0-0 3, Evan Madigan 4 0-0 11, Kevin Fazio 3 0-2 6, Eddie Hahn 3 5-6 11, Liam Byrne 3 0-0 9, Tom Montano 1 1-2 3, Joe Agius 0 2-2 2. Totals: 15 8-12 45

Three-pointers: J. Montano, Madigan 3, Byrne 3

Fouled Out: T. Montano


GAME BROADCAST

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1st Half

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2nd Half

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