Story by Bobby Klatt
Shore Sports Network Correspondent

TOMS RIVER - Sayreville earned payback for last year’s NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV loss to Colts Neck by beating the Cougars 52-49 in the WOBM Christmas Classic quarterfinals Sunday night at the Pine Belt Arena.

“We’ve talked about this game for a while because of ending our season last year on our own floor against a great Colts Neck team,” Bombers head coach Janet Ust-Cook said. “We needed to step up and prove that we belong and this is a great tournament to do that.”

After a back and forth affair that found Colts Neck leading 39-34 after three quarters, Sayreville came out firing as the Bombers went on a 12-3 run to start the fourth quarter to take a 46-42 lead with just over two minutes left.

Sayreville then tried to take the air out of the ball by forcing the Cougars to send them to the line.

Free throws were a major concern for Sayreville, especially down the stretch, as they only went 7-for-15 from the line in the second half and 12-for-26 for the game. Morenike Akinrefon, who led all scorers with 22, and Isi Enahoro made clutch foul shots to extend the lead to 51-46 with 20 seconds remaining.

“It was just a matter of composure down the stretch,” Ust-Cook said. “We needed to have better focus in the end. We have a good group of juniors who are confident holding the ball and handling it towards the end of games.”

Jamie Prestigiacomo, who had 10 points off the bench for Colts Neck, banked in a three to make it a 51-49 game with five seconds left. Enahoro hit one of two from the line and the Cougars were unable to get a last-second shot off, giving Sayreville the 52-49 victory.

“I think we turned the corner a little bit,” said coach Ust-Cook. “We were struggling in the last couple games. I tell them that anybody can beat anyone each night, but we have to show up.”

The game was close from the opening tip as as Akinrefon scored 10 of the Bombers’ 12 first quarters points as freshman Lola Mullaney, who finished the night with 14 and Elise Brown, who led Colts Neck with 15, combined for 11 of the Cougars 15 in the first.

The battle continued late into the second as Sayreville finished the half on a 8-0 run to take a 24-21 lead into the locker room.

The biggest margin of the night came in the third as Colts Neck fired off a 13-2 run to take a 37-29 lead.

Girls WOBM Bracket

In Other WOBM Quarterfinal Action:

(3) Red Bank Catholic 57, (6) Manchester 36

Katie Rice led a balanced scoring effort with 12 points and the Caseys topped the Hawks to advance to the WOBM semifinals Tuesday against Middletown South.

Rose Caverly and Amanda Hart each added 10 points for Red Bank Catholic. Dakota Adams led Manchester with 12 and and Anissia Fucci threw in 11 points in the loss.

(2) Middletown South 76, (7) Wall 49

Alexandra Balsamo led four Middletown South players in double-figure scoring with 19 points and the Eagles rolled through the Crimson Knights and into Tuesday semifinal round against No. 3 Red Bank Catholic.

Stepahnie Karcz poured in 18 points, while Haley Dalonzo chipped in 13 and Isla Brennan added 12.

Katie Hyde led Wall with 14 points and Nicole Callamaras added 12 in defeat.

(1) Manasquan 50, (8) Toms River East 30

Faith Masonius scored a game-high 17 points and Dara Mabrey chipped in 10 as the Warriors stormed out to a 29-9 halftime lead en route to a win over the Raiders. Manasquan will play No. 5 Sayreville in the WOBM semifinals on Tuesday.

Kaitlin Lister led Toms River East with 10 points.