And so in begins on Saturday: a 52-game, 7-day odyssey that for the most part marks the opening of the high school basketball season. Someone told me years ago my gravestone should read ”his greatest accomplishments were his two children and the WOBM Christmas Classic.” Frankly I’m not quite sure how to take that but I’ll give my wife most of the credit when it comes to my children but I’ll accept the part about the basketball tournament I started in 1984 with 8 boys teams and has now grown into a 32-team boys and girls mega-event.

While a part of me misses the days when we would pack the gym at Ocean County College so tight I feared a visit from the fire inspector, in truth I’m darn proud of what we put on inside the Pine Belt Arena. Exciting basketball in an outstanding venue, perks the players and coaches don’t see anywhere else, spectacular awards, tee shirts for all the participants, a tremendous pre-tournament breakfast and some $73,000 awarded in scholarships for those who value their studies every bit as much as their jump shot.

It doesn’t happen by magic but rather hard work, a great team of friends and colleagues, support from Townsquare management and more than anything else sponsors who come through annually.

Once again heading up that group is presenting sponsor Barnabas Health through Community Medical Center, Monmouth Medical Center, Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus and their Behavioral Health Center. Not to be overlooked is the Causeway Family of Dealerships, a relationship that began with owner David C. Wintrode in 1984 and continues now with his son Dave who runs the family car business with his Dad. There is also a major contribution from Seaview Orthopaedic & Medical Associates who once again provides the athletic trainers who staff every game and will have their own doctors on sight as well.

There are others who’ve been with us for many years including the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center, OceanFirst Bank, Atlantic Physical Therapy Center, Klee’s Bar & Grill, The Office Restaurant & Lounge, ShopRite of Ocean & Monmouth counties, Jersey Coast Appliance, Wallach’s Farm Market & Deli, Missing Link Fence & Flag Company, Mulberry Street Italian Food Center, Oh What A Bagel and Ocean Trophies who like Causeway has been along for the ride since the beginning.

This year we also welcome Sean Monahan of Financial Alternatives and Passanante’s Home Food Services. As you can see and hear it takes a village to build a basketball tournament and it all begins tomorrow.