Certainly not even I imagined that 29 years after we started the WOBM Christmas Classic the basketball tournament would not only be alive but among the biggest in New Jersey.  From the original eight team boys event in 1984 to what is now a 32-team boys and girls high school tournament the WOBM Christmas Classic is thriving at a time when many holiday tournaments have cut back or been discontinued.

Tuesday more than 250 players, coaches, tournament officials and guests attended what has become a highlight of the classic: the annual Tip-Off Brunch at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center in Toms River.

After wolfing down eggs, bacon, French toast and more the players and coaches were welcomed by Toms River Schools Superintendent Frank Roselli.  The school district has hosted the tournament since 2003 at the Pine Belt Arena and 52 games will be played over 7 days in the facility.

Todd Frazier remembers quite well playing in the tournament and also watching his older brothers Charlie and Jeff when the event was held at Ocean County College.  While all three are best known for their baseball abilities they were standout basketball players at Toms River South and Charlie still holds the Classic record with 109 points scored in the 1998 tournament.

Todd, coming off an outstanding rookie season with the Cincinnati Reds, served as guest speaker yesterday and talked fondly about his days on the basketball court as well as the three WOBM Christmas Classic breakfasts he was able to be a part of.  I figured he owed me for all the food he ate as a teen-ager and he returned the favor just three days before his wedding.  Nice touch!

Yesterday’s event also served as the announcement of the seeds and pairings for the tournament which is presented by Barnabas Health and begins on the weekend of December 22-23.  Top seeds from the coaches were awarded to the Toms River North boys and Point Boro girls but both know they face formidable opposition.

Led by Solly Stansbury, the Mariners have to battle newcomers CBA and Freehold Township as well as defending champion Jackson Memorial.  The Lady Panthers feature Boston College recruit Kelly Hughes but to win their first-ever WOBM crown they’ll need to survive a brutal challenge from the likes of Rumson, Jackson Memorial and defending champion Manasquan.

For schedule information visit ShoreSportsNetwork.com