Wall Ice Hockey: The Knights played in the Winding River Holiday Tournament this week. The latest state rankings came out and show Wall at 18th overall, first for public schools. Yep, Wall is number one for public schools in New Jersey. That means they'll be coming in as the obvious favorite, but, that target on their back will be getting bigger and bigger.
Wall made the finals as expected and got a rematch against defending champions Point Boro after beating them earlier in the season. Senior Tom Panico scored two goals and the game went into overtime 2-2. Senior goalie Troy Klahre made 22 saves and kept the deadlock through overtime. A penalty shootout would decide the next Winding River Holiday Tournament champion. Klahre stifled all three Boro shooters, leaving senior Matt Marabetti in a situation where if he scored, they would win. Sounds like one of those movie scenes. It was written in the stars what would happen next with the senior stepping up for Wall. Marabetti alone on the ice, just him and the goalie. He starts from the red line, comes in past the blue line, fakes a shot, then snaps a wrist shot top corner, past the Boro goalie. Game over. Wall crowned champions, 2-2 in a shootout, preserving the undefeated record, 9-0-1.
The game before that, Wall played Jackson Memorial after a weeklong Christmas layoff. It was possible to think they could come out with some rust after beating Manasquan in the last second last time they played. But, the Knights put Jackson Memorial away early, outscoring them 3-1 in the first, then 5-1 in the second, making it 8-2 when the third period started. At this point of his decorated Wall High School career, Jackson was not about to put six goals past Klahre. They did, though, find the back of the net two more times but those goals were merely consolation as the outcome of this one was decided well before that, 9-4. Sophomore Jeff Morgan had another hat trick and four assists. Morgan has been a pleasant surprise for the Knights this season. They expected him to be good, but not 19 goals 17 assists good. Morgan has brought his game to another level with Panico missing some games because of his club team. Wall will look to enjoy this ride and keep it going as long as they can. They have a special team, capable of doing real damage in the postseason, as that is very clear to see.
Wall Boys Basketball: Wall played Toms River South in the first round of the WOBM Classic, but couldn’t hang with South as the game went on, losing 57-35. Wall kept it close, only down one at the break. South came out the better side in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Knights 21-5. Wall’s young lineup played well, but they didn’t have that one dominant scorer who could pick them up when the offense was struggling, or keep up with Toms River’s leading scorer, who had 24. Sophomore Ryan Janeczek led the Knights with 13, their only double digit scorer.
In their first consolation game, Wall played Barnegat, winning 41-31, bringing them to 3-2 this year. Sophomore Trent Mitchell scored a game high 14 points, one of three Knights who were in double figures. But, it wasn’t the offensive end of the floor where Wall won the game, it was the defensive. Wall had 16 steals, led by sophomore Brenden Barcas with 5. Senior Kevin Waters had a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards.
Wall Girls Basketball: Just as the boys did, the girls played Toms River South in the first round of the WOBM Classic, 47-45, taking them to 2-2 at the time, now 4-2 on the year. Unlike the boys, though, this was a close game from start to finish. Wall outscored South in the first quarter 16-9, but the opposition won every subsequent quarter, culminating in a go ahead shot with 8 seconds left that proved to be the difference. On Wall’s last possession senior Kelsey Thompson, who had a team high 16 points, took a three with some contact. The shot went up, missed. The ref decided the contact wasn’t enough to warrant a foul, destining Wall to two WOBM consolation games.
Wall came out with a point to prove against Lacey and beat the breaks off them, 49-31. Then on Friday against Brick Memorial, Wall had an offensive outburst, scoring 61 points in another victory, 61-47. The 61 points were evenly distributed, four players in double digits. Junior Ellen Dougherty, who just transferred to Wall after going to Shore Regional. had a game high 19. Thompson had 17, senior Madi Mitchell with 11 and junior Sydney Darby added 10.
Wall Wrestling: Wall had only one competition this week, the Mustang Classic. The wrestlers didn’t have to worry about cutting weight on Christmas Eve and Christmas, but it was back to business as usual on Friday. The Knights had four place winners at this event, sophomore Denzel Tovar, second, freshman Brett Donner, third, and seniors Dan Kinsella, fourth, Drew Donner fifth. Tovar was seeded fourth in the 106 bracket, going through the 9, 10 and 11 seeds before losing to the fourth seed in the finals. Kinsella lost to the eventual champion in his 138 weight class, but earned fourth place.