TOMS RIVER – First-year Toms River South head coach Curt DeFillippo is new to his job, but he has been around the Shore Conference enough to know that Manasquan – his team’s opponent in Saturday’s WOBM Christmas Classic quarterfinal and the top seed in the tournament – carries with it a sterling basketball reputation.

He has also been around his players enough to know he has one of the best guard tandems in the Shore Conference. Saturday night at Pine Belt Arena, talent was too much for tradition.

Senior Tymere Berry went off for 25 points to help Toms River South take down top-seeded Manasquan in the WOBM Christmas Classic quarterfinals Saturday. (Photo by Matt Manley)
Senior Tymere Berry went off for 25 points to help Toms River South take down top-seeded Manasquan in the WOBM Christmas Classic quarterfinals Saturday. (Photo by Matt Manley)

Senior Tymere Berry scored 25 points to go with nine rebounds, three assists and four steals and ninth-seeded Toms River South knocked off Manasquan – the No. 3 team in the Shore Sports Network Top 10 on top of the No. 1 team in the WOBM Classic – 62-60 to advance to Monday’s tournament semifinal against rival Toms River North.

“We know all about Manasquan’s tradition and they are a great team,” said DeFillippo, a former standout at Toms River East and a nine-year assistant under previous Indians coach John MacIntosh. “But we have the best backcourt in the Shore, at least as far as I know. Most teams just don’t have an answer for their speed and on top of that, they play with so much composure. It’s tough to defend.”

Berry and senior backcourt-mate Khaleel Greene (12 points) combined for 37 points and forced Manasquan to guard them with a triangle-and-two defense that both left opportunities for other Indians players and did little to actually slow down Berry. The senior scored 12 points in the first half to carry the Indians out to nine-point halftime lead and closed with 13 more points in the second half.

“They were trying to play a triangle-and-two on us and that’s something we’ve gotten used to,” Berry said. “It gives other guys opportunities to get good shots and my teammates were all stepping up and hitting shots when they were open. That’s why we were so successful tonight.”

Berry and Greene were two of four Toms River South players to score in double-figures against a Manasquan defense that had held each of its first three opponents below 50 points and its last opponent – Monmouth Regional – to 32. Junior Ryan Schwartz poured in 13 points and junior R.J. Laing pitched in 10. Laing scored 20 points in the Indians’ first-round win over Marlboro, which was also his first varsity start.

Toms River South led by as many as 10 in the game and took the lead for good with an 11-2 run that turned a 13-11 deficit late in the first quarter into a 22-15 lead early in the second. The Indians led 55-45 with 2:56 left in the game before Manasquan mounted a late push to pull to within 61-58 on a three-point play by senior Luke O’Shaughnessy with 15 seconds left. Berry answered by making the front end of a one-and-one to push the lead to four, followed by a put-back by Ryan Jensen on the other end to pull Manasquan within 62-60 with 2.6 seconds left.

Berry missed the front end of a one-and-one with 1.9 seconds left to give Manasquan a small opening, but O’Shaughnessy’s desperation heave slammed off the backboard as time expired. Berry shot 7-for-9 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and 8-for-11 in the game.

Jensen finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds to lead Manasquan, while senior Aidan McMenaman added 16 points in defeat.

“We’re out to beat everybody this year and a win like this shows that,” Greene said. “No matter who it is, we are going in thinking about winning that game. Our mentality is ‘Whoever is next on the schedule better watch out, because South is coming.’”

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