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TOMS RIVER - Freehold Township survived a first-round scare against Toms River East at the WOBM Christmas Classic last weekend and considering the Patriots have been waiting on the return of two of their most integral pieces, they were happy to get through to Saturday’s WOBM quarterfinal against No. 6 Brick Memorial any way they could.

Seniors Danny Saunders and Kyle Czajkowski both returned from injury to make their season debuts and senior Tyree Wilson dropped in 18 points to help the Patriots pull away for a 70-57 win over the Mustangs.

Freehold Township senior Danny Saunders (32)was one of two starters to return from injury Saturday to help the Patriots top R.J. Hernandez (20) and Brick Memorial. (Photo by Matt Manley)

“Kyle and Danny, those guys are the heart and soul of what we do, mainly on the defensive end,” Freehold Township Brian Golub said. “There’s no question we were stretched thin without them and we weren’t the same team without them, but ultimately, I’m glad we had to play without them because it gave us a chance to get some guys work, which should help with our depth.”

Saunders scored 10 points in his return from a concussion suffered during a preseason scrimmage against Matawan, while Czajkowski added eight points in his first game back from a wrist injury that kept him out of action during the preseason as well.

With Saunders and Czajkowski out, Freehold Township began the season 1-2 with losses to Christian Brothers Academy and Marlboro and a three-point win over Toms River East.

“It was tough losing those two games, but we just wanted to compete and try to win a game or two while those guys got healthy,” Wilson said. “We would have liked to win that Marlboro game and we probably could have, but we were happy to get to the next round of this tournament so we could get those guys back. Now they’re back and we’re hoping to make a run.”

Senior Jason Czajkowski – Kyle’s twin brother – added 15 points in the Freehold Township win, including 10 in the second half. Wilson scored 10 of his points in the first half, including the back end of an alley-oop dunk off a pass from Jason Czajkowski.

“This team is unique because we’re all role players, but we can all be a star on a given night,” Wilson said. “We have great chemistry when we’re all healthy and playing together, and today was the first time we got to play close to full strength and I think it showed.”