A wide-open field for the 2016 Girls WOBM Christmas Classic led to Toms River North playing for a chance at the championship on their home court against Point Pleasant Boro. The Mariners did just that, securing this title by relying on outstanding team defense and yet another offensive explosion from Ashley Tutzauer.

Tutzauer kept her team comfortably ahead throughout the night by continuously burying tough shots. On her way to the tournament MVP award, she scored a game high 32 points on 5 three-pointers, while also coming away with eight steals that led to transition baskets.

TRN got off to a fast start, jumping ahead 10-0 on two Tutzauer treys (that was a lot easier to type that it was to say, for what that’s worth). Megan Hughes would eventually put the Panthers on the board with a three of her own, but unlike in the quarterfinals against Manchester, the Seniors’ timely shooting was not enough to keep the Panthers in the game.

The Mariners would end the first eight minutes of play with a 20-6 lead, as another Tutzauer three forced a Boro timeout in the final minute of the quarter. Out of the huddle, North’s defense continued to frustrate Boro – as they turned it over twice to end the quarter. A Hughes block would deny Tutzauer once at the rim, but her second steal saw the Senior starter beat the buzzer with a layup.

While it was Megan Hughes who looked to keep Point Boro competitive in the first, fellow Senior starter Ally Lassen – who was named to the All-Tournament Second Team along with Hughes – began to find some rhythm in the second quarter. Unfortunately for Coach Drew’s young squad, the efforts from these two reliable starters were not enough.

Lassen finished with 19 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals, getting her hands on much more than five balls underneath the basket – yet being held in check by a swarming TRN defense led in the post by Junior Lindsay Cabey.

By the half, TRN had more than doubled up Point Boro, leading 32-14. Tutzauer had 16 of her eventual 32 over these first 16 minutes.

If the Panthers were going to get back into this game in the second half, they were going to need to protect the ball offensively while stringing together stops defensively. Instead, while they got improved possessions on the offensive end, Toms River North was content with matching their scores by relentlessly attacking the rim all while continuing to shoot well from the outside.

Point Boro would draw within 20 points of TRN at one point in the quarter, but by the end of the third the Mariners held a convincing 45-28 advantage.

They would go on to win 67-52, securing the WOBM title as 2016’s #7 seed. Many thought that the Mariners would take a step back without Brielle Bisogno, but the current TRN team will enter a tough divisional schedule at 7-0.

After this win from the Pine Belt Arena, I caught up with tournament MVP Ashley Tutzauer, while Jim Rosa talked with Krystal Hund.

Ashley Tutzauer:

Krystal Hund:

Congratulations to the Toms River North Mariners on winning the 2016 WOBM Christmas Classic.