Most of those in attendance at the Pine Belt Arena Tuesday night expected to witness the final chapter of what’s been a remarkable season for the Point Pleasant Beach girl’s basketball team. 

Katelynn Flaherty (left) and Marina Mabry of Point Beach after last night’s win over Trenton Catholic. (Townsquare Media NJ)

Yes they had captured their first-ever Group 1 state title on Sunday but now they were in rare company as the Tournament of Champions opened in Toms River.  Point Beach faced perennial power Trenton Catholic and count me among those who expected TCA to be too much for the Garnett Gulls.  Of course I was wrong.

With Katelynn Flaherty and Marina Mabry accounting for 65 points the Beach led most of the way and surprised the Lady Mikes 74-68 to move into Thursday’s semifinals against top-seed Malcolm X. Shabazz.  Flaherty was brilliant, scoring 36 points while Mabry contributed 29 along with 13 rebounds.  The duo shot a remarkable 34-38 from the foul line to prevent any Trenton Catholic rally in the 4th quarter.  Beach also got a nice contribution from Eva Motta who hit a trio of three-pointers and added 9 points.

Now 26-1 the magic ride continues for one of the smallest public schools in New Jersey as they take on Shabazz, who seemingly makes regular trips to the Pine Belt Arena during the month of March.  That matchup on Thursday at 8pm will be preceded by the semifinal between Shore Conference champion Red Bank Catholic and Rancocas Valley.