By BRIAN CUNNIFF
CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — The Cape-Atlantic League playoff tournament quarterfinal game between Middle Township and Atlantic County Institute of Technology was a contrast in styles, featuring Middle Township’s excellent guard play against ACIT’s dominant size.
Middle’s guard play won out.
The Lady Panthers, seeded fourth in the tournament, took out No. 5 ACIT, 46-39, on Friday to advance to the tournament’s semifinal round, where they’ll face top-seeded Mainland on Thursday at St. Augustine Prep at 7 p.m. Mainland was a 69-30 winner over No. 8 Vineland in its quarterfinal game. Middle Township and Mainland have faced each other twice already this season, with Mainland winning both games by a total of 11 points.
Junior guard Kira Sides poured in 20 points to lead Middle. She sank her 1,000th career point when she opened the scoring with a left-wing three-pointer. Sides had nine of her points in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Kate Herlihy added 12 points.
Middle led from start to finish but had to survive some anxious moments late as ACIT cut the lead to three points with 20 seconds after Middle had led by six only a couple of possessions earlier.
Middele (20-4) has won 16 straight games. Its last loss came in a 34-28 defeat to Mainland on Jan. 8.
Nyasia Grant (14) and Jakyra Williams (11) each scored in double figures for ACIT. Middle’s Maddie Barber helped limit ACIT career 1,000-point scorer Kayla Sykes to just four points.
(photo gallery courtesy Dale Gerhard)