Heading into Toms River South's home game vs. Toms River North on Dec. 18, it had been nearly 10 whole years and 20 games since the Indians boys basketball team had defeated its crosstown rival and with Toms River North leading by 10 points heading into the fourth quarter, the streak appeared destined to reach 21.

Then, Toms River South embarked on a comeback that not only snapped a decade-long drought without a win over the Mariners; it set off one of the surprise hot starts in the Shore Conference and around the state.

With its 77-73 win over Toms River North in overtime, Toms River South began an ascension that carried the Indians to a 6-1 start, its first WOBM Christmas Classic championship in 32 years and its first appearance in the Shore Sports Network rankings. It all started with that fourth-quarter rally and the upset of Toms River North -- the basis for Toms River South's standing as the Week 1 Jersey Mike's Team of the Week.

Senior Rob Peirson has come through with multiple clutch fourth-quarter performances during his team's fast start and none was bigger than his fourth quarter vs. Toms River North. Peirson scored 14 of his 20 points during the fourth to help his team erase that 50-40 deficit heading into the last eight minutes.

Senior Kai Barckley led the Indians with 22 points, including four in the overtime, and sophomore Shane Gambarony went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in overtime to cap a 16-point outing. Senior James Alexanders also came up clutch with all four of his points in overtime.

Peison went on to win the Gepp Bracket MVP at the WOBM Christmas Classic, averaging 20.7 points and 10 rebounds in three victories, as the Indians captured the bracket championship with wins over Freehold Township, Toms River East and Donovan Catholic -- all teams that had one loss when Toms River South beat them.


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