High school basketball practice might have only begun last Monday but Tuesday night coaches for the 32 teams that will be participating in the WOBM Christmas Classic gathered at Klee’s Bar & Grill in Seaside Heights to try and asses one another.

The practice is known as “seeding” and the idea is to try and rank the teams heading into the 28th annual holiday basketball tournament at the Pine Belt Arena on the campus of Toms River North. Coaches for the 16 boys and 16 girls teams talked about their expectations and then got down to the task of ranking the teams with the goal to set up the best-possible matchups as the tournament progresses. Of course there is often a little bit of politicking here as in most cases the coaches will try and do things that benefit their team.


However there was little surprise as to not only the #1 seeded teams but those that occupied most of the top spots heading into the tournament which begins next weekend and has not only become a holiday tradition but is sort of an early-season gauge for teams in the Ocean and Monmouth County area.


On the boy’s side Jackson Memorial returns three starters including a pair of 6’7 seniors in Brandon McDonnell and Brandon Holup and it was no surprise the Jaguars garnered the #1 seed and will face Brick on Saturday, December 17th in the opening round.

Defending champion St. Rose, led by last year’s MVP Mark Kukoda is the #2 seed and will meet Toms River East on what is the first day of the tournament and for most teams comes a night after their season-openers. Manchester was ranked 3rd and will play newcomer Red Bank Catholic while 4th seeded Point Boro will face Lacey.


At the top of the girls division is Manasquan, who will make their WOBM Classic debut on Sunday, December 18th against Barnegat. The Warriors return four starters from a 20-win team and that includes the shore’s leading scorer from last year in Michaela Mabrey. Right behind them at #2 is Point Boro, who opens with Ocean and brings back high-scoring Kelly Hughes among four starters from a team that went 25-5. Many expect a Boro-Squan championship game but not to be overlooked is #3Jackson Memorial and 4th seed and 3-time defending champion Rumson. The Jaguars first OBM opponent is Manchester while the young Bulldogs will begin their defense against Wall. All the matchups and the tournament schedule are available at wobm.com.

Special thanks to Klee’s in Seaside Heights for a great job of hosting last night’s event in their upstairs dining and banquet room.