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Boys Varsity Basketball Wins First WOBM Tournament Championship

Photo+by+Ray+Richardson%2C+Courtesy+of+Shore+Sports+Network
Photo by Ray Richardson, Courtesy of Shore Sports Network

Photo by Ray Richardson, Courtesy of Shore Sports Network

Photo by Ray Richardson, Courtesy of Shore Sports Network

Lauren Mellerup, Staff Writer

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The Patriots boys’ basketball team is off to a fast start this year opening up with 9 straight wins, including winning the WOBM Christmas Classic Tournament by defeating top-seeded Toms River North in the championship game.

 

The team has relied on a stifling defense, which has held most of its opponents under 40 points per game. In the first round of the WOBM tournament, the Patriots were led by seniors Ryan Zyskowski and Steve Staklinski who both scored 13 points, while senior Bobby Weise and sophomore Greg Billups added 8 points a piece as they defeated Brick Memorial 73-39. In the second round, it was more of the same as Freehold Township handed Wall a 64-35 loss. Staklinski led the scoring, pouring in 16 points, while Zyskowski added 12 points. Bobby Weise added 9 points as the Patriots cruised into the semifinals.

 

The Patriots met Manasquan and the shores leading scorer Devin Jensen in the semis. Freehold Township’s defense shut down Jensen and the Warriors, holding them to 39 points. Ryan Zyskowski led the offensive charge with 18 points and also pulled down 12 rebounds. Senior Ryan Cardone, Weise and Billups added 9 points each as the Patriots advanced to the championship game against top-seeded Toms River North on its home court.

 

Once again, Freehold Township would rely heavily on its tremendous full court defensive pressure to force the Mariners into numerous turnovers and mistakes in this low-scoring affair. Steve Staklinski stepped up on the offensive side leading the Patriots with 23 points and 8 boards. Ryan Zyskowski added 9 points and 7 rebounds as the Patriots won the first-ever WOBM Championship.

 

After the victory, Steve Staklinski was named the tournament MVP, Ryan Zyskowski was named to the All-Tournament First Team, and Bobby Weise was named to the All-Tournament Second Team. It was a stellar start to the season for the boys’ basketball team as they also added wins against Freehold Boro, Neptune, CBA, Colts Neck, and Holmdel to run their record to 10-0. They are currently ranked third in the Asbury Park Press and Shore Sports Network Shore Conference Top 10 behind Mater Dei and Ranney. Additionally, in the most recent Star-Ledger State Top 20 poll they are ranked #20.

 

The Patriots are led by a core group of seniors, but this year’s team has many contributors. Through the first 10 games, it has truly been a team effort. There seems to be a different leading scorer every night and all of the starters are capable of scoring, handling the ball, and finding the open man – not to mention playing hard nosed defense for the entire game. With the high intensity defense the Patriots employ, they will need to go at least 9-10 deep as the season progresses and they get into divisional play. When asked why the Patriots are doing so well this season, Zyskowski said, “The reason we are doing so good this season is because we all buy in on defense. Our defense is what allows us to win even when we have bad shooting nights and also ends up creating some offense for us.” Not only do the Patriots have a strong defense, they also have an experienced and talented bench with senior Brandon Hasner who brings physicality and intensity to the game, senior Brian White and juniors Jazeem Foster and Joe Gargiulo who bring energy and the ability to break down any defense, and senior Mike Pirrotta who provides valuable minutes of defense and rebounding.

 

The deep and talented Patriots team will be eyeing a deep run in the Shore Conference Tournament and a return to the State Sectional Finals this year.

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Boys Varsity Basketball Wins First WOBM Tournament Championship