By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr.
West Long Branch – Wednesday night, one senior and one sophomore teamed up for the Lady Blue Devils of Shore Regional and combined for 22 of the team’s 52 points in the win over Brick Township. Reese Fiore is the sophomore guard and Rylee Drahos the senior who each had 11 points as the Blue Devils defeated the Dragons 52-35.
It was the semifinals in the Nancy Williams bracket of the Blue Devil Holiday Tournament. Shore Regional is in its fourth year hosting the tournament which draws 15 teams from around the state. New this year as a result of an NJSIAA rule limiting teams to the amount of games they can play, the tournament has two divisions (Click here to read Ocean Township story with divisions ) and will have two winners.
Shore Regional was the top seed in the Nancy Williams bracket followed by Hightstown, Monmouth Regional, Sayreville, Brick Township, Mount Olive, Manalapan and Calvary Christian.
In the opening round of the tournament Shore beat Calvary Christian 59-22. In that game, Drahos finished with 15 points, two rebounds, four assists, one block and three steals. Fiore was right behind her with 14 points, five rebounds, one assist and six steals. Freshman Ava Coyle had a game-high 13 points with three rebounds and three steals.
That set up the semifinal game with the Dragons of Brick Township. Shore jumped out to a 16-8 first quarter lead. Drahos had a basket and three fouls shots for five of her game-high 11 in those opening minutes. Coyle and junior forward Antonette Russo both hit deep three-point shots. Junior forward Conley Smolokoff and Fiore each had a basket.
During the second quarter, Brick Township outplayed the Devils outscoring them 10-6. Getting the points for Shore to close out the first half was Smolokoff with a three-point bucket, Alana Martin, senior forward, with two points and Fiore had a foul shot. The Blue Devils took a 22-18 lead into the break.
Shore played their best during the second half. They outscored the Dragons 12-5 in the third quarter and 18-11 in the fourth. Drahos and Fiore each had 11 points, Drahos also had 13 rebounds, while Smolokoff finished with 10.
Last season, in her junior year, Drahos achieved an honor of being inducted into the 1,000-point club. As of today, she has played in 74 games for the Blue Devils and has 1,167 points, 462 rebounds, 199 assists, 35 blocks, and 204 steals.
“Really proud of the way our girls battled on both ends of the court. Brick did an awesome job of trying to take Rylee Drahos out of her flow,” said William Wishart, head coach of the Blue Devils. He added that it is hard to take Drahos out of her game. “She still had a double-double in points and rebounds, but we had other step up like Reese Fiore, Conley Smolokoff, Alana Martin and Antonette Russo.” Coach added that Coyle as a freshman was a major spark plug off the bench.
In the win over Brick Township, Russo had seven points, Martin had six, Coyle scored five and Angela Christopher had two points.
Shore will play Hightstown in the finals of the Nancy Williams bracket on Friday, December 30, 2022 at 4:00 p.m.
Colonia High School, top seed in the Patricia Delehanty bracket will face second seed Ocean Township in that final starting at 2:00 p.m.
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