The WOBM Christmas Classic is always a terrific way to start off the girls basketball season in the Shore Conference. While this year’s field won’t feature top teams like Manasquan and Saint Rose, the top-seeded Neptune Fliers are deserving of their ranking – as they headline a field full of teams that feel they can compete, and will be eager to do so on a big stage.
With that, here are some things I’ll be keeping an eye on throughout the day on Saturday.
#8 Colts Neck Vs. #9 Red Bank Regional
On paper, this is of course a match up that features two teams seeded within one spot of each other. Colts Neck and Red Bank Regional might also be the best examples of teams that could use a strong showing here early in the season.
The Colts Neck Cougars lost emerging star Lola Mullaney to Manasquan, but Head Coach Glenn Jansen returns a core of players like Seniors Sam Roth and Jaime Prestigiacomo that will keep them in any game with timely shots and solid defense.
The Bucs of RBR have their own core of Seniors for Head Coach James Young to be excited about.
These are two teams that should be taken seriously, yet only one of them will get to move on to the second round of this tournament.
#4 Manchester Vs. #5 Freehold Township
While standout Patriots guard Hailee Porricelli will be one of the best players to watch for Freehold Township this weekend, her team will face a tough test early against a Manchester team that has prided itself on team chemistry and depth.
While nobody may standout, the Hawks could legitimately give any team in this field a problem, and they’ll look to get off to a fast start against a well coached Freehold team led by Mike Stoia.
#6 Donovan Catholic Vs. #11 Toms River East
Ever since I sat down to record this episode of Shorecast with Ryan Wydra and Jim Rosa, I have been ready to see what Donovan Catholic can do this season under Dr. Bruno. This was recorded after their Maroon and White summer camp performance that featured a fresh face in Molly Roth joining a familiar and athletic lineup.
Toms River East can’t be taken lightly, and as Ryan wrote in his preview about the Raiders:
The biggest strength for Toms River East will be speed. Coach Cohen has plenty of talented guards to choose from in his rotation. Sydney Schuler is a returning starter who averaged 8 points per game last year. Schuler has already developed a reputation for being a clutch three point shooter. Now, with the departure of Kaitlin Lister, she will be primarily responsible for handling the ball. Her vision, creativity, and ability to make plays has looked impressive in the scrimmages early on. The return of Sydney Phibbs from injury will also be very influential. Phibbs is another speedy guard who can get to the rim and shoot from the outside. Defensively, she can follow just about anyone on the floor with ease.
Following this year’s theme, DC and TRE will be a competitive game between two fun teams to watch.
#NJSR will have you updated as this tournament tips off on Twitter @NJSportsReport, as well as Facebook and Instagram.
Feel free to also use the comments section below to discuss the opening round of games for Saturday!