With none of its five starters returning from last year's team, the Ocean Township boys basketball team was already facing its fair share of challenges. Then the Spartans saw their schedule.

Ocean opened up the season with Manasquan, Long Branch and Middletown North - the first two of which were in the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals last year and the other a roster chock full of experience - and managed to salvage a 1-2 record by holding off a late rally and beating Long Branch on a last-second shot by senior Darius Brown.

That set the stage for holiday tournament week, when the Spartans nailed down the first Army Strong Team of the Week Award. Ocean won three straight games at the Husky Holiday Classic at Matawan High School to win the tournament and launch what is now a five-game winning streak heading into a Friday road game at Freehold Boro.

The run through the Husky began with a 61-48 win over Tottenville of Staten Island and continued a day later with an overtime thriller against host Matawan. The Spartans pulled out a 69-66 affair over the Huskies on Dec. 28 and capped the tournament by beating Old Bridge, 41-38, in the championship game on Dec. 30.

Three different players led Ocean in scoring during the tournament, with junior Andrew Seager taking home the tournament MVP. He put up 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists in the win over Tottenville, scored a career-high 23 in the win over Matawan and scored a team-high 17 points in the championship game.

Brown also posted a career-high by scoring 31 points in the overtime win over Matawan, while freshman Jack Miller led the way with 18 points in the win over Tottenville.

Ocean's surge continued into this week with a win over Pinelands on Tuesday and a key Shore Conference Class B North win over Wall at home. Miller again led the way with 18 points and seven assists in the 63-60 win over the Crimson Knights on Thursday night.

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