TOMS RIVER - In a game in which it found second and third chance opportunties to be abundant but actual baskets hard to come by, the Manasquan boys basketball team just hoped at some point the ball would start going in the basket during its WOBM Christmas Classic championship-game showdown with defending tournament champion Toms River North.

After watching just about every shot he put up miss the mark for three quarters, Warriors senior Jack Sheehan stepped up as the long-awaited answer to Manasquan's early offensive woes.

Sheehan scored nine straight Manasquan points to spearhead a fourth-quarter surge that lifted the top-seeded Warriors to a 57-50 win over the No. 2 Mariners, giving the them their first ever WOBM Christmas Classic title and Sheehan tournament Most Valuable Player honors.

"My teammates were sinking some shots and they played huge," Sheehan said. "I just had faith that my shot would fall later. We knew we had a run in us. It was a great job just persevering, getting through it and being determined. It's just great to get a win."

Sheehan's 10 fourth-quarter points were part of a 14-point game for the senior guard, as well as part of a 20-4 Manasquan run that closed out the final six-plus minutes. Toms River North led 46-37 early in the fourth quarter before the Warriors ripped off a 19-1 run to turn the tide and go up 56-47 with under a minute to play.

Junior Devin Jensen began the rally by hitting a three from the left corner to cut Toms River North's lead to 46-40 and fellow junior Tommy Sheehan converted off a pretty spin move in the post to slice the deficit down to four.

From there, Jack Sheehan did the rest on offense, scoring the next nine Warriors points to give Manasquan a 51-47 lead. He knocked down a three from the wing to pull his team within one and hit a running bank shot to give Manasquan a 47-46 with with 3:32 to play.

Toms River North would tie the game with its only point of that six-minute stretch on a free throw by senior Hunter Petrick, but Sheehan came right back with a driving layup to put the Warriors back in front, 49-47. Sheehan went on to hit 3-of-4 free-throw attempts to help put the game away.

"We stopped playing soft," Manasquan coach Andrew Bilodeau said. "They (Toms River North) never got away from us. We told the kids at halftime that we set the game back to the 1950's. Our offense was putrid. Our defense was worse and North, with the firepower and athleticism they have - it could have been worse.

"In the second half, I guess we made about three or four more plays than we did in the first half and found a way to hang on there. I thought we defended a little better too."

Sheehan also contributed four rebounds and seven assists and senior forward Ryan Jensen dominated inside with an 11-point, 27-rebound performance that also included three blocked shots. His work on the offensive glass helped Manasquan overcome a poor-shooting first half by hiving his team multiple opportunities during most of its trips down the floor. It also helped lead to a 27-7 advantage in attempted foul shots, of which Manasquan made 17 and Toms River North just three.

"I've been rebounding great and I was just trying to grab as many as I could today," Jensen said. "I felt like that was important today, because it leads to offense - either getting it out, up the floor in transition or on second-chance points.

"When shots aren't falling like they weren't for us in the first half, we needed to figure out how to score and get stops anyway we could. In the second half, we came out and took two charges, got the ball back a couple times and things kind of slowly shifted for us."

Senior Shane Flanagan helped keep the Warriors afloat in the first half by scoring all nine of his points before the break on three three-pointers. Flanagan, along with junior Brian Paturzo, also keyed the defensive effort on Toms River North guard Mike Nyisztor, who finished with seven points and had only four before a three in the final 10 seconds with the game all but decided. Paturzo also added nine points, including six in the second half.

Manasquan's defense held Toms River North without a field goal for a stretch of just over six minutes of the fourth quarter following a jumper by junior Darrion Carrington gave the Mariners a 46-37 lead early in the fourth. Manasquan's struggles to convert on offense allowed Toms River North to ignite its transition game, but once the Warriors began to execute in the halfcourt, Toms River North was forced to operate in the halfcourt as well and could not generate second-chance points with Jensen cleaning up down low.

Junior Jaden Rhoden led a balanced Toms River North scoring outfit with 12 points and senior Anthony Storino scored 11 points off the bench. Nyisztor and senior Pat Marinaccio combined for 38 points in the semifinal win over Freehold Township on Monday, but combined for only 12 on Wednesday night.

"We did have some trouble (on defense) in the first half," Jack Sheehan said. "Nyisztor is a great scorer but Shane did a great job on him and so did Brian Paturzo. We were up to the challenge and we knew we had to stop those guys and rebound so we could limit their second-chance shots."

Wednesday night was the first game in which either Manasquan or Toms River North did not hold a double-digit lead. Toms River North had won all four of its prior games by at least 11 points and in Manasquan's lone victory decided by fewer than 10 points, the Warriors held an early 15-point lead against Toms River East and never let the Raiders get closer than five in the quarterfinal win.

"It's awesome to play teams like this now because some teams in some years won't play a game within 20 points until February or March," Ryan Jensen said. "It's great to see how we do in a tight game now and it gives us a little preparation for later in the season, as well as some confidence."

Box Score

Manasquan 57, Toms River North 50

Manasquan (6-0)121692057
Toms River North (4-1)151712650

Manasquan (57): Jack Sheehan 4 4-6 14, Shane Flanagan 3 0-0 9, Ryan Jensen 3 5-9 11, Tommy Sheehan 2 3-4 7, Devin Jensen 2 2-2 7, Brian Paturzo 3 3-4 9, Kyle Coyne 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 17-27 57

Three-pointers: J. Sheehan 2, Flanagan 3, D. Jensen

Toms River North (50): Darrion Carrington 3 0-0 6, Mike Nyisztor 3 0-0 7, Jaden Rhoden 4 2-4 12, Pat Marinaccio 2 0-0 5, Hunter Petrick 3 1-3 7, Anthony Storino 5 0-0 11, Mike Husni 1 0-0 2. Totals: 21 3-7 50

Three-pointers: Nyisztor, Rhoden 2, Marinaccio, Storino

WOBM All Tournament Team

First Team

Ryan JensenManasquanSr.
Devin JensenManasquanJr.
Pat MarinaccioToms River NorthSr.
Jaden RhodenToms River NorthJr.
Phil LingatToms River EastJr.


Second Team

Tom SheehanManasquanJr.
Mike NyisztorToms River NorthJr.
Riley CollinsDonovan CatholicSr.
Nick FacendoFreehold Twp.Sr.
Jordan TorneyManchesterSr.


Tournament MVP: Jack Sheehan, Sr., Manasquan

Chuck Kearney Memorial Award: Nick Facendo, Sr., Freehold Twp.