By BRIAN CUNNIFF
VOORHEES — The Middle Township High School girls basketball team is doing its best to put a stretch during which they lost three out of four games behind it.
The Lady Panthers played one of their most complete games of the season Saturday when they rolled past Gloucester Catholic, 54-24, in a showcase game at the South Jersey Invitational Basketball Tournament at Eastern Regional High School.
“Gloucester Catholic has been one of the best programs in South Jersey,” Middle coach John Leahy said. “They’ve been of the gold standard programs in South Jersey, so anytime you can beat them you have to feel good about it and feel fortunate. For us, I’m really happy with the effort.”
Middle (18-4) limited Gloucester Catholic (11-9) to only two field goals over the middle two quarters, outscoring the Rams 23-6 during that span to take control of the game.
Kate Herlihy scored 22 points and Kira Sides netted 21 points for Middle.
The victory was the seventh straight for Middle since a 51-49 loss to Wildwood Catholic in late January that represented the team’s third loss in four games, albeit against good teams.
Included in the seven-game winning streak was last weekend’s overtime result over Manasquan.
“I feel like we’ve been practicing well and that’s been translating into the games,” Leahy said. “The girls are tuned in and focused and they’re playing really well.
“We have a lot of upperclassmen who’ve been through the wars and they’re doing their best to get past that disappointment after the Wildwood Catholic game. The Manasquan game, we really needed that, to beat a good team in a close game. “
Middle seems to be peaking at the right time, with the Cape-Atlantic League and state tournaments set to begin soon.
“The CAL tournament’s right around the corner so it’s good to see our energy and our focus pick up, especially in practice,” Leahy said. “We have to keep this rolling one at a time.”