Most teams would not have high hopes entering a tournament winless, but that did not prevent Central Regional from believing they could make a run and win the WOBM Christmas Classic for the first time in school history, defeating Toms River South 48-36 in the Kathy Snyder Bracket.


Entering the WOBM 0-4, the Golden Eagles upset the No. 10 seed Donovan Catholic, who was one of the favorites in the bracket, 37-32 in the opening round. Following the recipe championship teams follow, Central Regional used defense and controlled the boards to advance in each round. In the opening round they had 23 steals and 39 rebounds and they followed that with 20 steals and 47 rebounds in the semifinal round.


“I think that each round we got more confident because we saw that our efforts were being rewarded,” Central Regional coach Dan Torsiello said. “We were beating good teams with history, strong coaches, teams that were our rivals. We showed up to work every day with intense effort and commitment that has organically grown into a motto; 100% effort, 100% of the time from 100% of the team.”


Central had their toughest test in the semifinal round against Lacey. Leading 30-20 entering the 4th quarter, Lacey was able to come back and send the game into overtime holding Central to two points in the quarter. Central rebounded and held Lacey to just one point in overtime to win 35-33 and advance to the final.


Sophomore Emma Christensen, who scored the game winning points in overtime, finished with 8 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 steals in the opening round and followed that with 9 points, 22 rebounds and 8 steals against Lacey. Christensen was named Most Valuable Player in the Kathy Snyder bracket for her consistent play on both ends of the floor.


“It’s leaps and bounds her (Christensen) growth and she is such a natural athlete,” Torsiello said. “She is a good kid and she is so coachable. She is a soccer kid and played a huge role in the state championship and that is a mindset we are fortunate to inherit with the soccer kids who are winners and they want to keep winning and it carries over.”

Emma Christensen pulled down 22 rebounds and had 8 steals for Central Regional in the semifinal game against Lacey. Photo by Eric Braun
Emma Christensen pulled down 22 rebounds and had 8 steals for Central Regional in the semifinal game against Lacey. Photo by Eric Braun

Each game the Golden Eagles had a different player step up on the offensive side of the floor. In the final sophomore Ava Schmidhauser, who did not score in the semifinal game, scored a team-high 12 points along with senior Beth Doderer. In the opening round Vita Kelyman scored a team-high 10 points. 


“That is a perfect example of us focusing as a team,” Torsiello said. “We scored in each game in different ways. Against Donovan Catholic it was pressing and defense leading to offense. Lacey, it was second chance points and against Toms River South it was executing our offensive sets. When you get your points in multiple ways, you will have multiple leading scorers.”


More From Shore Sports Network