For the past three years the girls’ varsity basketball team at Shore Regional finished in second place of the Blue Devil Holiday Tournament. However, that all changed during the fourth annual tournament as Shore was powered to the championship title of the Nancy Williams Bracket by senior Rylee Drahos.
The Blue Devil Holiday Tournament featured 15 teams from around the state. New for the 2022 tournament was having two brackets with two champions. That was a result of a new NJSIAA rule that only permits teams to play a certain number of tournament games in a single season.
William Wishart, head coach at Shore and the Tournament Chief Operating Officer, decided to name the two brackets after two of the most outstanding female coaches, athletes from the high school. It also coincided with the 5oth anniversary of Title IX. The first bracket was named for Nancy Williams and the second was named for Patty Delehanty. Read more about these two outstanding women
Shore Regional entered the tournament and beat Calvary Christian 59-22 in the quarterfinals. The Devils then took on Brick Township in the semifinals and beat the Dragons 52-35. Hightstown entered the tournament as the second seed and beat Manalapan 62-37 in the quarterfinals. Their semifinals had them beating the Falcons of Monmouth Regional, third seed, 53-33.
It was a very exciting game, and the Blue Devils are a complete mixture of upper and lower class athletes. Only two seniors are on the roster and they are co-captains Alana Martin and 1,000 plus point scorer Drahos. Antonette Russo and Conley Smolokoff are the two juniors on varsity. The squad also features five sophomores; Angela Christopher, Reese Fiore, Kayla Husar, Sofia Merten and Jasmin Okuska. Two freshman were called up to varsity this season and they are Ava Coyle and Amelia Moro. Every member of this team can dribble, shoot, play aggressive defense and hit the boards. Assistant Wishart on the bench are Nick Ault and Emily Olsen.
Hightstown entered the tournament undefeated, and has a very tall squad. However, the speed and skill of the Blue Devils proved to be the difference in the game. Shore jumped out to an 18-12 first quarter lead. In the second quarter, Shore outscored Hightstown 13-8 and took a 31-20 lead into the break.
Shore Regional had only one hiccup in the finals. It was the third quarter, they came out flat, and were just off. Hightstown came out red hot to start the second half, outscoring the Blue Devils 15-9. With four minutes left to play in the fourth quarter, Shore a 42-41 lead. Over the last four minutes, Shore outscored Hightstown 15-6, and won the game 57-47. The Devils improved to 5-1 overall and are 3-0 in the Shore Conference C South division.
Drahos had a double-double with 22 points and 15 rebounds. She also had one assist and four steals. Drahos was named MVP of the Nancy Williams Bracket. Fiore finished with 13 points, four rebounds and three steals. She is a sparkplug for the Devils and was named to the First Team All Tournament Nancy Williams Bracket.
Smolokoff scored nine points and had five rebounds, two assists and two steals. Coyle also scored nine points and had three rebounds and one assist.