Words of Wisdom at the Christmas Classic Tipoff Brunch
You’re going to hear a lot this week about the WOBM Christmas Classic for two simple reasons. One being it’s an event run in part by this radio station and secondly because it’s my baby. Actually there is more to it than that but you get the picture.
This will be the 32nd consecutive year the tournament has been held and a big part of the tradition took place Tuesday morning at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center in Toms River. Players, coaches, tournament officials and other guests will gather for the annual Tipoff Brunch which featured plenty of basketball talk along with eggs, bacon and more.
Tuesday's event is even more special because we bridged the early days of the classic when eight boys teams took part at Ocean County College over three days to what’s now become a 32-team boys and girls event played over 7 days at the Pine Belt Arena. That’s because our guest speaker is who played for Toms River North in the second and third WOBM Classics back in the mid-80s before starring at Monmouth University and having a long pro career including a stint with the LA Lakers before playing overseas.
Blackwell was inducted into the Monmouth Hall of Fame this past weekend, returning to the area from Chile where he’s been coaching basketball and teaching English.
In the past the Tipoff Brunch was when we released the seeds and pairings for the tournament but that was actually done Monday. For the second straight year both the boys and girls teams from Manasquan received top seeds which worked well for the girls last December when they repeated as champions. However the Warriors boys’ team was upset in the second round by Toms River South and will seek a better outcome this time around.
Defending champion Toms River North is expected to make a serious run at a second straight WOBM title along with Manchester, Donovan Catholic and Red Bank Catholic. As for who has the best chance of denying the Squan girls a three-peat. Expect that challenge to come from Middletown South, Red Bank Catholic and Colts Neck. Today’s main challenge might be which players and teams make the most trips to the buffet line. The Clarion (formally the Quality Inn) has been hosting the breakfast for some 17 years and special thanks to General Manager Bob Van Bochove and his great staff.
The pairings and tournament schedule are available at shoresportsnetwork.com. Play begins this weekend with the boys to take the court Saturday and the girls on Sunday.