By BRIAN CUNNIFF
CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — The Middle Township High School boys basketball team showed what the future might hold Wednesday against a local rival.
The Panthers played a brilliant second half and received double-figure scoring from three underclassmen in a 62-45 victory over Cape May Tech.
Sophomore Marcus Pierce tallied 23 points, junior Miles Sapp added 14 points and junior T.J. Harris sank 11 points for Middle, which outscored the Hawks 36-20 in the second half after leading by a point at halftime.
Middle, playing a brutal non-league schedule this season in addition to quite a few tough Cape-Atlantic United Conference opponents, improved to 3-9 with the win.
“This was definitely a great win for our guys,” Middle coach Anthony Farmer said. “Cape May Tech’s a good team. This is the same team that gave (highly-ranked) Wildwood Catholic a really tough game here a couple weeks ago. We came in here and played well and executed our game plan.”
That game plan certainly included defense, especially in the second half. Middle held Cape May Tech (6-5) to only five second-half field goals. Josh Wright, who scored 27 points before leaving late in the contest after suffering an ankle injury, scored four of them. A three-point basket by Tom Stahler with 1:03 to play in the game accounted for the lone Cape Tech field goal not scored by Wright in the second half.
Pierce and Sapp also dominated offensively after halftime. Pierce netted 14 of his 23 points and Sapp had 12 of his 14 in the second half. And Harris had four of his 11 on back-to-back possessions early in the fourth quarter.
“There’s been a good opportunity for our younger guys this year,” Farmer said. “We’ve taken our bumps and bruises but at least a lot of these younger guys are getting experience. There will be some turnover after this year (with other teams). There will be a lot of new faces around but we’ll have some guys that will be a little more seasoned because they’ve gone through it.”
Senior A.J. Baez, Middle’s lone current player with experience from last season, scored just two points but accounted for six steals and efficiently directed Middle’s offense from his point guard position.
“A.J.’s not measured on what he does with scoring points,” Farmer said. “He’s a senior and he’s giving us great leadership out there. He’s played for us and he gets it. We have a young group and that’s been tough on him but he’s been out there trying to keep us together. Coming out and setting the tone for us defensively is his job and he was great tonight.”
Middle’s 15-3 run to start the half extended its one-point lead to 13 late in the third quarter. Cape May Tech got no closer than 11 points the rest of the way.