Girls Basketball – Red Bank Regional Holds Off Wall to Win Their First WOBM Christmas Classic 54-51
In a championship game that went back-and-forth, the No. 1 seed Red Bank Regional came out of halftime fired up and built an 11 point second half lead and was able to hold on to defeat the No. 4 seed Wall 54-51 and win the Ray Cervino Bracket in the WOBM Christmas Classic.
Junior Caroline Polloway continued her remarkable tournament, scoring 14 out of her team-high 19 points in the second half. Polloway averaged a double-double in the tournament and was named Most Valuable Player.
“She just works hard,” Red Bank Regional coach John Truhan said of Polloway. “She is a special kid, a high academic kid that is an exceptional student-athlete that works on her game constantly.”
Another player who came out of halftime and took over the game was sophomore Synai Blychanton. Blychanton was more aggressive attacking the basket and it resulted in her getting to the foul-line in the second half. She scored 11 out of her 16 points in the second half, five of those points coming from the line.
“He (Coach Truhan) told me at halftime I had to take over and keep trying,” said Blychanton. “I had to go hard today and play focused.”
The first was just as exciting as the final quarter. Both teams were able to put together 10-0 runs to take leads. Wall led in the 1st quarter 5-3 when RBR went on their 10-0 run to make it 13-5. Wall countered that with a 10-0 run of their own and kept RBR scoreless in the 2nd quarter until there was 3:08 left on the clock.
Sophomores Riley Joyce and Zoe Gulley were the two who stepped up in the first half for RBR and hit a shot when they needed it. They combined for 11 points in the first half and Joyce hit another big 3-pointer in the third quarter that opened the game for the Bucs.
“We do not win these three games without Riley Joyce,” Coach Truhan said. “Every game in the tournament she came up with a big play that helped us win. Today in the first half Riley and Zoe made big shots when we needed them.”
The Bucs went up 44-33 with 5:23 left when Wall senior Shayne Eldridge took over on the defensive end and went on a 6-0 run with three steals and scoring two lay-ups and converting two foul shots. Wall was able to get the game to within three points, 44-11, but that was as close as they could get it. Eldridge scored 10 of her game-high 26 points in the 4th quarter and finished with 8 steals.
“We have not been in that position this year,” Wall coach Colleen Wisher said about trailing in the 4th quarter. “We talked about never giving up and to keep grinding. That was what I wanted to build over the last 14 years and this senior class have developed that mentality.”
Both teams exchanged baskets in the final three minutes, but Polloway was proving to be too much in the post for Wall. RBR was able to get the lead back up to 8 points with 1:42 left, but Wall chipped away again. Wall had possession with 3.9 seconds left, but Eldridge could not hit the 3-pointer to send it to overtime.
“This bracket has 7 quality coaches with teams that have won this before. East won it before, Manchester won it before, North won it before, and Point Boro.” Truhan said. “This makes it a special win for this group and without their senior Camryn (Gardner) to rally around.”