Toms River, NJ- The cross town rivalry between Toms River East and Toms River North was back at it Wednesday night as the Raiders edged the Mariners 40-39 at Toms River East.  This was the seventh meeting in the past four years where the contest was won in the closing minutes.  With the win the Raiders senior group of Kaitlin Lister, Kristen Lister, Jenna Platten and Amanda Bruno now hold a 4-3 edge over their Mariner counterparts.

It was a family affair on Wednesday night in the Raiders victory.  The Lister sisters, Kaitlin scored 13 points, 11 rebounds and 2 steals, Kamryn tallied 4 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals, and Kristen's aggressive defense lead to turnovers and off balance Mariners shots.  Adding to the Lister sister's were the contributions from their basketball sisters Jenna Platten pitching in with 14 points and 6 rebounds, and Sydney Schuler adding 9 points, 3 rebounds and 4 steals.

Afterwards senior Jenna Platten added "we are really starting to gel together and it starts with everyone buying in as a family, today was just one more example of how close we all are with one another."  Sydney Schuler added "the chemistry on this team is great and continues to grow, it's just a great group of girls that love playing with each other and trust in one another."

Dating back to last season Toms River East is now riding a 10 game home winning streak, that includes 3 tightly contested wins over Central by 4, Brick Memorial by 3 and Wednesday nights 1 point win over Toms River North.

Coach Cohen added "this has been a great start to the season with the girls getting tested early and continuing to grow defensively and offensively.  The competition in A-South is no cake walk and every night you need to show up ready to work which these ladies do, so proud to coach these young ladies."

The Raiders this season are looking to rebound off of last seasons tough loss to Cherokee in the opening round of the NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV game in which they lost 53-20.  This years group is hungry and playing together on both sides of the court and with the early season close games pushing them to lean on each other, there is plenty of reason for high expectations for this years Raiders squad.

After back-to-back losses to Manasquan and Colts Neck in the WOBM Classic, the Raiders only other loss on the season is to A-South leader Southern Regional by 5 two weeks ago 38-35.

Wednesday night Toms River East and Toms River North looked to run each other up and down the court with both teams crisp ball movement and in fast break opportunities.  The first half saw 7 lead changes and both teams holding a game high four point lead at times in the second quarter.  Toms River North jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Toms River East's Kaitlin Lister nailed a three pointer from the left corner to tied the contest early at 3-3.  A Jenna Paul layup and Krystal Hund free throw put the Mariners lead back up to 3 with a 6-3 advantage but it was short lived as Kaitin struck again with another 3 pointer this time from the top of the arc to tie it 6-6.

The teams would go into the first quarter break with the Raiders clinging to a 10-9 lead behind 8 points from Kaitlin for the Raiders and 3 points from Breille Bisogno for the Mariners.  The second quarter was more of the same game plan for both teams with the Raiders looking to get the ball into the hands of their scoring leader in Kaitlin (17.6 ppg) and the Mariners looking to get their freshman duo of Bisogno (14.3 ppg) and Jenna Paul (12.3 ppg) more involved into the offense.  With both teams defensively shutting down the looks for the other team, it lead to opportunities for others to step up and seize their moments which Jenna Platten did with 6 points in the second quarter for East and Amanda Johnson added 5 points for North.

The Mariners would hold onto a 23-21 lead going into the half.  More impressive was the fast paced play and aggressive defense that only resulted in 3 total fouls in the first half.

Coach Cohen added "we knew Toms River North was going to come right at us from the opening tip, we were able to withstand the offensive pressure early and limited the touches Jenna Paul would get in the paint."

The third quarter was a bit different for each team in terms of ball control as the Raiders opened with the second half with four turnovers and four fouls while the Mariners followed suit with three turnovers and two fouls.  The frantic second half led to only 6 points for Toms River North and 8 for Toms River East which resulted in a 29-29 tie headed into the final quarter.

The fourth quarter opened with both teams finally settled back into their game plans and showed why these two teams will be forces to reckon with the rest of the season.  The Raiders went back to ball control on offense ball moving the ball around the perimeter until the found the open look down low and aggressive play on defense but under control.  The Mariners in turn found the fountain of youth with Bisogno taking control of the offense and finding the open lanes and teammates and on defense focused on shutting down Kaitlin's scoring opportunities and force other Raiders to step up.

With Toms River East clinging to a 32-31 lead, North's Jenna Paul drove the lane and took the foul with 6:08 left in the game.  After hitting both free throws to put the Mariners up 33-32, it would be the last lead the Mariners would hold in the game.  After back and forth action between the two, the Raiders finally took the lead with 1:06 remaining when Platten sank a pair of free throws for a 38-36 lead.  The Raiders would get the ball back after Kaitlin secured a rebound off a missed layup from North with :50 second remaining.

Afterwards Platten when asked about her clutch free throws added "we work on free throws everyday in practice, it is something I work really hard at and glad I was able to do my part tonight to help the team."

With the ball coming out of the timeout and into the hands of Kaitlin, the Mariners were able to force a tie up and get the ball back.  After another missed layup, it would be Platten who would secure the rebound and go back to the foul line after getting fouled with :18 seconds left.  After hitting both free throws to give East a 40-36 point lead, North drove the length of the court and Bisogno found a wide open Ashley Tutzauer who nailed a three from the corner to pull the Mariners to within one with :06 left.  After a quick foul on Platten who went to the line and missed the free thrown, Tutzauer attempted a 3-pointer from mid-court that hit off the back of the rim and out for a 40-39 loss.

Toms River East coach Cohen afterwards added "both teams tonight did not disappoint as once again it came down to the final minute of play."  Also added about his girls focus and heart "the girls show up everyday ready for practice and games and never stop working, truly a testament to their work ethic and drive to get better each day."

With the win Toms River East moves into second place in A-South with a record of (8-3 overall and 7-1 A-South) one game back of Southern Regional whom the Raiders will face on February 4th.  The loss drops Toms River North to third, two games back of Southern and one game back of the Raiders with a record of (9-3 overall and 6-2 A-South).  They will face the Rams on January 29th and the Raiders again on February 8th.



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