The best winter in the history of Point Pleasant Beach came to an end around 9:20 last night.  The scoreboard at the Pine Belt Arena would show that Malcolm X. Shabazz had defeated Point Beach 65-50 in the semifinals of the NJSIAA Girls Basketball Tournament of Champions.  What it didn’t show was that for three months the girls and boys teams at the small Group 1 school had given fans, followers and admirers a ride they will never forget.

To recap, the two programs went 54-6, were undefeated while winning Shore Conference B Central championships and then each claimed Central Jersey Group 1 and overall Group 1 titles for the first time in school history.  The later earned them spots in the prestigious Tournament of Champions which brings together the six group state champions from all over New Jersey.   This week saw red-and-white clad Beach fans flock to the campus of Toms River High School North to watch their teams go up against perennial powers and more than hold their own.

However as the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end” and the clock struck midnight a bit early for the boys on Wednesday night and the girls last night.  Not to be lost though are the moments and memories players like Katelynn Flaherty, Marina Mabry, Matt Farrell and Riley Calzonetti produced in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.  At the same time give credit to coaches Mike Feerst and Nick Catania, along with their assistants, for guiding their players to heights never seen before at the school.

A familiar face returns to the basketball court this Sunday at Rider University where the New Jersey Coaches Association North-South All Star Game will be played.  Mike Clemente, who spent some 30 years as the head coach at Central Regional, will be the head coach of the South team and Rory Caswell of Toms River North will be one of his assistants.  Clemente’s South roster includes Solly Stansbury of TR North, Manasquan’s Jimmy Walsh and J.R. Hobbie and Anthony Firkser of Manalapan.  Game time is noon and tickets will be sold at the door.

The Pine Beach Recreational Basketball League will hold their 2nd annual March Madness event tomorrow at Toms River Intermediate South in Beachwood.  There will be games in various age groups beginning at 12:30 and the highlight of the day will be a game between Coaches and Cops at 2:30.  Admission for the entire day is just $2.00 and there will be food, a DJ and music with all proceeds to benefit the league.