By TOM WILLIAMS
There could be history made at the Dixie Howell Memorial Gymnasium on Saturday.
It has already been a season of historic accomplishments.
Luke Varallo broke a 25-year old school record for three-pointers in a career.
The boys basketball team had back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time in 60 years.
Abbey Fenton set a new school record by making six three-pointers in the game with Timber Creek. (It was originally believed that she tied the record with five but a review of the video showed that she made six.)
And John Bruno earned his 400th coaching victory.
Well, Bruno could have company on Saturday.
Paul Baruffi enters Saturday’s South Jersey Group 3 semifinal with Toms River East with 399 victories in his career. And his teams have played in three straight South Jersey finals. Ocean City’s girls have only reached the South Jersey championship game four straight years twice before – under Baruffi from 2006-09 and under Pat Dougherty from 1976-79.
The Raiders (21-6) earned the semi-final by defeating Lacey Township, 50-34, on Thursday behind Danielle Donoghue’s 17 points.
In the second game of that doubleheader, the season ended abruptly for the OCHS boys (20-5) when Seneca rallied in the fourth quarter for a 62-57 win over Bruno’s Raiders. It marked the second straight year that Seneca had ended Ocean City’s season.
Sophomore Gannon Brady led OCHS with 16 points, including 12 of 14 from the foul line. Luke Varallo added 12 with Donovan Graham scoring 10, Joe Sacco eight, Mike Rhodes seven and Tom Finnegan four. Ocean City led at the end of each of the first three quarters but was outscored by six in the final eight minutes.
Seneca moves on to the South Jersey semifinal at Mainland on Saturday.
In the girls quarterfinal game, Ocean City ran away to a 17-4 lead but Lacey rallied a bit and kind of hung around. Donoghue got support from Emma Finnegan and Savanna Holt, who each added eight points, Delaney Lappin with six, Stephanie Carey five, Lauren Mirsky four and Tori Rolls two.
Saturday’s game tips off at 5 p.m. and will be broadcast live on FM radio at 106.3-The Shore and video streamed live on the NFHS Network.
Toms River East (20-7) has not had much luck against Cape-Atlantic League teams in the Group 3 Tournament. The East Raiders were eliminated in the South Jersey semifinals last year by Mainland, lost to Ocean City in the 2017 quarter finals and were beaten by the Raiders in the 2016 South Jersey final in the Dixie Howell Gym.
The two teams have three common opponents. Both lost to Manchester Township, OCHS by 17 and East by 34. Both beat Lacey, OCHS by 16 and East by 35. And East lost to Atlantic City by 12 while Ocean City beat the Vikings by three.
Senior Kamryn Lister leads Toms River East with 13 points and seven rebounds a game. She has scored over 1,200 career points and was selected to play in the New Jersey North-South All Star Game later this month. She was a starter four years ago as a freshman when East lost to Ocean City in the South Jersey final.
Junior Jordyn Madigan averages 11 points a game for the visiting Raiders and has 101 steals. Senior Adriana Hart (7ppg), junior Nicole Platten (6ppg) and junior Emily Maire (5ppg) round out the lineup. The team has made 128 threes this year.
It’s the Ocean City Raiders against the Toms River East Raiders in a South Jersey girls semifinal Saturday at 5. It could be another historic day. Visit the Raider Sports Diary for OCHS day-by-day results and schedule at http://www.oceancitysports.com/OCDiary.html.