Girls Basketball – Tutzauer Shines as Toms River North Ends 12-Year WOBM Drought
By Tyler Calvaruso
TOMS RIVER – It has been a long time coming for Toms River North, but the wait is over.
The Mariners captured their first WOBM Christmas Classic title since 2004 Friday, soundly defeating Point Pleasant Boro, 67-52. The title is Toms River North’s eighth Christmas Classic championship, giving them the most in tournament history – one more than Rumson-Fair Haven.
“It’s special,” Toms River North head coach Vicki Gillen said. “We put up the banners from 2002, we lost in the finals in 2003, we won in 2004. I said ‘girls, it’s been a really, really long time and I’m just really happy for them.”
Toms River North (7-0) got off to a hot start, leading Point Boro (5-2) 20-6 after one behind 11 points from tournament MVP Ashley Tutzauer. Tutzauer would finish with a game-high 32 points and eight steals while finishing with 93 points during the four-game run.
“It was really special for her to do what she did these last four games.” Gillen said. “She’s just impossible to stop. Everyone was saying Ashley wasn’t going to get a shot today and she did. She found open looks and led us, she really was a senior leader for us these last four games.”
The Mariners continued to cruise and took a 32-14 lead into the locker room behind 16 first-half points from Tutzauer and 12 first-half points from sophomore Jenna Paul, who finished with 21 points and was named to the all-tournament team.
There was no let up from Toms River North coming out of halftime and they would take a commanding 45-28 lead into the fourth quarter due, in large part, to their activity in the passing lanes. The Mariners came away with 16 steals as a team.
“We were very confident coming into this game.” Gillen said. “They knew that if we could play the way we’ve been playing, why not tonight?”
Despite late scoring efforts from Point Boro’s Ally Lassen, who finished with 20 points and Megan Hughes, who hit five threes and scored 17 points, the Mariners were able to maintain a double-digit lead throughout the quarter thanks to their unsung hero, Amanda Johnson.
Johnson stuffed the stat sheet on Friday night with 11 points, six rebounds, and four assists. She was named to the all-tournament second team.
“We’re not here tonight without her.” Gillen said “She does everything. When you watch her, she’s always in the right spot. She’s never misplaced offensively and she’s a versatile player. I can play her at the point, or I can play her underneath. Defensively, she can cover a guard, or she can play down low. She’s an all-around excellent player for us.”
It has been 13 years since the Mariners could call themselves WOBM champions and this year, the trophy will be staying at home.