By TOM WILLIAMS
Its Ocean City-Mainland Weekend!
Tomorrow, the OCHS boys basketball team (11-2) will travel to Linwood for a re-match with the Mustangs (10-4) that will decide first place in the Cape-Atlantic League’s National Conference.
Also tomorrow, the boys and girls swim teams from the two schools will face off in the pool at the Ocean City Aquatic and Fitness Center.
And, on Sunday night, the girls basketball teams from Ocean City and Mainland will play their conference re-match as the final game in the 24th Annual 97.3-ESPN Girls Shootout in the Dixie Howell Memorial Gymnasium. That game will also decide who is in first place in the National Conference. The complete two-day Shootout schedule is here – http://www.primeevents.net/girlshootout.cgi.
The OCHS boys and girls swim teams are both 7-2. The Mainland boys are also 7-2 and lost to the same two teams that beat Ocean City – Egg Harbor Township and St. Augustine Prep. Available records indicate that the Raiders have not beaten the Mustangs in boys swimming for 26 years. And two of South Jersey’s very best swimmers will be on opposite teams in the meet – Ocean City senior Nate Hays is a multi-record-holder and Mainland junior Destin Lasko was the Swimmer of the Year in the state last year.
The Mainland girls are 7-1, losing only to EHT, which also beat the Raiders.
First place in the conference might not be at stake in these swim meets but they should be very competitive and bring that Ocean City-Mainland magic into the pool with them when the competition begins at 4 p.m.
The boys basketball game in Linwood finds both teams with 5-1 records in the National Conference, tied for first place. But it almost wasn’t so.
Last night the Mainland boys used 21 points by Tom Zanaras and a defense that held Lower Cape May’s high-scoring sophomore Martin Anguelov to four points in a 63-52 win over the Tigers.
But Ocean City needed a remarkable rally to avoid a major upset at Cedar Creek.
The Raiders trailed by eight points with 1:15 left but used an intense full-court press to outscore the Pirates, 11-2, in the remaining time for a 60-59 win on Donovan Graham’s 14-foot jumper with one second left.
Trailing, 57-49, the Raiders got a three-point play by Joe Sacco to start the rally. After Cedar Creek got two points from the line, Sacco drilled a three-pointer after a steal by Ian Aungst. Then Graham went strong to the basket, scored and was fouled with 24 seconds left, making the free throw to cut the lead to 59-58. Gannon Brady rebounded a missed free throw by Cedar Creek with 16 seconds left and they eventually worked the ball to Graham for his pull-up, game-winning jumper.
Sacco finished with 18 points, Graham scored 14 and Luke Varallo added 12.
The OCHS girls (10-3) had no trouble with Cedar Creek last night, winning a 51-25 decision. Emma Finnegan led the way with 13 points, Savanna Holt and Marin Panico each scored nine and Danielle Donoghue and Lauren Mirsky each added six.
The last five girls games between Ocean City and Mainland over two seasons have come down to the final possession, including the Mustangs’ 45-41 win last month.
The Mainland girls (13-2) come into Sunday’s game ranked No. 10 in South Jersey and Ocean City is No. 12. On the boys side, the Raiders are ranked No. 23 and the Mustangs No. 25. You can check out the complete rankings here – http://www.primeevents.net/calbasketballx.html.
But it really doesn’t matter how they are ranked when Ocean City meets Mainland in an athletic competition. And it will happen four times in 52 hours this weekend.
You can follow all OCHS teams in the Raider Sports Diary here – http://www.oceancitysports.com/OCDiary.html.