By TOM WILLIAMS
John Bruno earned the 400th win of his boys basketball coaching career tonight. But it wasn’t easy.
The Raiders defeated Lower Cape May, 66-63, in overtime at the Dixie Howell Memorial Gymnasium and moved into first place in the Cape-Atlantic League’s National Conference.
Bruno, in his 30th season, finished the game with a 400-347 career record. He joins St. Augustine Prep’s Paul Rodio and former coaches Tom Feraco (Middle Township) and Ken Leary (Pleasantville) as the only four CAL boys coaches to reach 400 career wins.
Only two other coaches have won 400 times in a single sport at OCHS – Trish LeFever in field hockey (486) and Phil Birnbaum in boys tennis (441).
“It’s great to win 400,” Bruno (above) said after the win, “but it is something I will appreciate more when I look back on it later. I’m just glad we won the game. It was an important game and we always have great battles with Lower Cape May. They have always been well coached.”
Joe Sacco scored six of his 15 points in the overtime period, including four free throws. Gannon Brady led Ocean City scoring with 18 points, Donovan Graham also scored 15 and Luke Varallo added 10. Varallo made a three-pointer and four important free throws in the fourth period.
Sacco did a great job defending Lower sophomore Martin Anguelov, holding him three points below his season average and keeping him off the foul line.
Anguelov led all scorers with 20 points for Lower. He hit four three-pointers and has 46 this season. Ron Jackson scored 14 points and Tom Gault 13.
“I thought we played a very good game,” Bruno said, “both offensively and defensively. We hurt ourselves in the overtime from the foul line but overall it was a good effort.” The Raiders missed five free throws in the extra period.
After a 16-16 first period, Ocean City scored the first nine points of the second quarter and held the lead almost until the end. Lower Cape May sophomore Jordan Pierce made a three-pointer with three seconds left in the fourth period to tie the score.
The win lifts OCHS into first place in the National Conference while Lower drops into a tie with Mainland for second.
“If you stay around long enough,” Bruno said, “you’ll get wins. I also have a lot of losses. But I’m just glad to see the kids win games. They work hard and they have talent. It’s rewarding to see them win.”
Bruno is now 105-66 in the Dixie Howell Gym, 24-16 in overtime games and 32-14 against Lower Cape May.
The game marked the second straight night that two teams played for a conference lead in the CAL. Last night Wildwood Catholic edged St. Joseph, in overtime, to take over first place in the United Conference. And tomorrow night St. Augustine will visit Millville to play for first place in the American Conference.
You can watch the complete Ocean City-Lower Cape May game here – http://www.oceancitysports.com/OCBBVideo2019.html.
The 10 Teams Bruno Has Beaten the Most
32 Lower Cape May
27 Egg Harbor Township
13 Holy Spirit