By TOM WILLIAMS
Ocean City High School’s basketball teams started off the season over the weekend by sweeping a couple of away games and then splitting the exciting Jack Boyd Memorial Doubleheader at the end of the Ocean City PBA Tipoff Weekend.
Paul Baruffi’s girls (2-0) romped at Millville, 59-26, in Friday’s season opener and then edged Atlantic City, 45-42, Sunday in the Dixie Howell Gymnasium.
John Bruno’s boys (1-1) handled Middle Township, 46-35, in Cape May Court House on Friday but lost a back-and-forth game to Atlantic City, 63-58, on Sunday.
The two Ocean City games, played at the end of Tipoff Weekend, are dedicated to the memory of Boyd, a former OCHS coach and member of the South Jersey Basketball Hall of Fame.
Both teams have most of the week off but the girls play a crucial 5:30 game on Friday in Linwood. The Raiders will meet Mainland (2-0) in the first Cape-Atlantic League National Conference game for both. The two teams played four times last season with Mainland winning the first three – all in overtime – to win both the conference and CAL Tournament titles. Ocean City won the fourth meeting in the South Jersey Group 3 final. Mainland’s 6-3 junior center, Kylee Watson, scored her 1,000th point on Friday and came into this week averaging 25.0 points per game.
The OCHS boys will not play again until Saturday night (8:30) when they take on Kingsway (1-0), led by 6-0 senior guard William Pollick (24.0) in a showcase game at the Wildwoods Convention Center.
In Sunday’s loss to Atlantic City, the Raiders took a seven-point lead early in the second quarter by scoring the first seven points after a 14-14 first period. Joe Sacco scored five of the points. Atlantic City eventually responded and had a six-point lead midway through the final quarter. But Donovan Graham hit a free throw and three-pointer and Sacco tied the game with a pair of free throws with 3:05 left. The Vikings outscored OCHS down the stretch for the win.
Graham finished with a career-high 23 points, Sacco scored 15 and made four assists and sophomore Gannon Brady scored 10 and had four assists. The Raiders shot well from the foul line (14 for 15) but not from three-point range (6 for 25).Atlantic City, led by Stephen Byard’s 21 points and 13 boards, had a 43-30 rebounding advantage but turned the ball over 20 times.
Corey Yeoman scored 13 points and grabbed five rebounds for Atlantic City. He is the son of Derrick Yeoman, who was coached by Bruno at OCHS in his first few seasons as coach. Derrick holds the OCHS record for points in a season, along with some other records. On Sunday, his son tied the Tipoff Weekend record by making all four of his three-point attempts against his dad’s high school coach.
Check out all the Tipoff Weekend records, plus complete box scores of this season’s 10 games, here – http://www.primeevents.net/tipoff.html.
At Middle, the Raiders never trailed and put the game away with a 10-5 run to start the fourth quarter. Sacco and Brady each scored 14 with Graham contributing 11. Brady celebrated his first varsity start with a double-double, grabbing a game-high 15 rebounds. Graham blocked four shots and freshman Tom Finnegan three. Marcus Pierce scored 11 and A.J. Baez 10 for Middle which lost center Coley Holton for the season with an injury. Holton had 28 points and 13 rebounds against Ocean City last year.
The OCHS girls scored the game’s first 11 points against Atlantic City on Sunday but the Vikings chipped away, cutting the lead to five by halftime and tying the score with three minutes left in the third quarter. Atlantic City led by two before Emma Finnegan tied the score with 1:15 left in the game. With 29 seconds left, Tori Rolls made two free throws to put the Raiders ahead for good.
Finnegan led OCHS scoring with 11 points, also grabbing six rebounds. Savanna Holt added nine, Rolls eight and Danielle Donoghue scored seven. Donoghue had five assists and Rolls four. Atlantic City was led by its remarkable freshman guard – Sanai Garrison-Macon– who scored 18 points and made three assists. She made seven of 13 shots, including three from three-point range.
At Millville, Baruffi’s Raiders opened a 31-15 lead at the half and wrapped things up with a 20-6 advantage in the third period. Finnegan scored 16 points to lead Ocean City, Abbey Fenton added 12 and Molly Hoffman scored eight. Donoghue had four points, six rebounds, five steals and four assists.
The biggest problem the Ocean City girls had at Millville was getting home. Their bus broke down on Route 49 and they had to wait more than 90 minutes for another bus. In that dark setting it must have seemed like a scene from the Chris Hemsworth film, “The Cabin in the Woods”. But everybody got home safely.
Baruffi takes his girls to Walt Disney World for a first round game in the KSA Holiday Event against Windermere (FL) High School on Dec. 26. Their eight-team bracket also features teams from Georgia, Kentucky, West Virginia, New York and North Carolina.
Bruno’s boys will play in the Frank McAlarnen Memorial Bracket in the Boardwalk Basketball Classic in the Wildwoods Convention Center. On Jan. 30 they play Burlington City, coached by the legendary Paul Collins. He has more than 750 career wins, third all-time in South Jersey history behind Paul Rodio of St. Augustine and the late Clarence Turner from Camden. Ocean City will play either Boys Latin (PA) Charter or Delcastle (DE) Tech on Dec. 31, depending on who wins on the 30th.
Check out the daily results and schedules of all OCHS teams in the Raider Diary – http://www.oceancitysports.com/OCDiary.html.