When it comes to high school basketball the season is approaching what is the most important time of the year.

The Shore Conference Boys & Girls Tournament begins next Tuesday and runs through Saturday, February 27th when the championship games will be played at Monmouth University. Following that it’s state tournament time for those that qualify with the ultimate dream to win a title along the way.

However for those that participate in the Toms River Basketball Association Challenger Division their “season” was held in December and January and everyone who took part was a champion. Each Sunday about two dozen special education students participated in clinics at Silver Bay Elementary School with guidance and direction provided by parents, volunteers and most impressively members of the Toms River North girls and Donovan Catholic boys teams.

The Challenger Division was started in 2002 by Joe Garvey and continues under the direction of Victor Suskevich, who credits North coach Vicki Gillen and Donovan Catholic’s Michael Kearney for their dedication and support. Having their current players patiently work with these special children is a true example of giving back and understanding that being part of a team is more than just wins and losses.

Kudos to all involved for helping make a difference in the lives of other.

Sunday the seeding committees for the Shore Conference Boys & Girls Tournaments will gather at Red Bank Catholic High School to work on the difficult task of ranking all the teams with .500 or better records that have qualified. There will be close to 30 boys teams and about 20 girls teams that make it.

There will clearly be discussion as to the top-seed among the boys teams with CBA & Mater Dei Prep both having strong arguments. Manasquan, Toms River North, Colts Neck, Ranney and defending champion Rumson-Fair Haven should round out the top group. The task is easier among the girls teams with St. John Vianney clearly #1 followed by Rumson-Fair Haven, two-time defending champion Manasquan, St. Rose and Middletown South. For complete coverage of the Shore Conference Tournament visit shoresportsnetwork.com.

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