By BRIAN CUNNIFF
ERMA — When the Cape-Atlantic League created a special divisional alignment for basketball due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lower Cape May and Cape May Tech girls basketball teams were placed in a difficult situation.
The two rebuilding programs were forced to compete in the CAL East, a grouping that otherwise featured the league’s best teams, making it difficult for them to compete.
But for the second time this season, the teams combined to play an extremely competitive and entertaining game when facing each other.
This time, Lower Cape May came out on top.
Junior point guard Lindsay Holden scored 12 of her game-high 23 points in the third quarter to guide the Lady Tigers to a 36-33 victory in their season finale, which came after the program was forced into a two-week quarantine due to issues related to COVID-19.
“The last two weeks have been rough for them having to quarantine, especially the seniors,” Lower coach Mike Pittman said. “It’s nice for them to come back as a team and go out on a high note. Not many teams can say they won their last game of a season. It was a rough year with the schedule we were dealt and having to quarantine and dealing with everything in general with COVID, so I’m just really happy for the girls that they could go out with a win.”
Trailing by three at halftime, Lower won the third quarter, 15-8, to take the lead for good. Holden made three three-pointers, a driving layup on a fastbreak and a free throw during the quarter. Freshman Brianna Loper also knocked down a three-pointer in the period.
“I think Lindsay did some really nice things,” Pittman said. “She shot the ball well. She was seeing the court as well as she had all year and she was getting in the lane and distributing. Overall I think this was her best game of the season.”
Cape May Tech stayed in it by preventing Lower Cape May from making a field goal in the fourth quarter. With Cape Tech trailing by five at 35-30, Kennedy Campbell made a three-pointer with 11 seconds to go to cut Lower’s lead to two points. After Lower’s Kaitlyn McGuigan made one of two free throws with 4.8 seconds to go, Tech pushed the ball quickly and got off a three-pointer from the left wing that fell short as time expired.
“This was probably one of our best games of the season,” Tech coach Amber Waddington said despite the loss. “We typically have wonderful games with them. We had such a rough schedule this year, as have they, and we fought and fought and the girls did everything I asked them to do. We hit that big three at the end to stay in it. It really comes down to, it was just their night. It was such an exciting game.
“I was really happy with the look we got (at the buzzer). To not have a timeout and get the ball down the floor and get off that shot, we couldn’t have asked for more. I’m proud of our kids.”
Campbell led Cape May Tech with 14 points. Izzy Schmucker chipped in 12.
The Lady Hawks (2-8) finish their season Saturday at home against Bridgeton.
Lower ended the season at 1-10. Seniors Casiya Lewis, Molly McGuigan and Alyssa Wagner played in their final high school basketball game for Lower (1-9).
Cape May Tech won the first contest between the two teams, 39-35, on Feb. 1.