By BRIAN CUNNIFF
ABSECON – A team in desperate need of a victory got one early Saturday evening.
The Lower Cape May Regional High School boys basketball team, coming off a heartbreaking loss to Hammonton two days earlier, held off a late surge by Southern Regional to post a 39-31 victory at the Seagull Classic at Holy Spirit High School.
“This was very similar to our last game, where all of a sudden we weren’t getting out on three-point shooters and we were missing layups, but at least this time we pulled out the ‘W,’ and that was important for us,” Lower coach Schott Holden said. “We definitely needed it. To get asked to come to the Seagull Classic and beat a Group IV school like Southern that’s had some good wins already this season, it’s a big step for us.”
Lower Cape May appeared on cruise control after taking a 32-15 lead after three quarters through its stingy defense.
“We played them two years ago and it was an extremely low-scoring game that time as well,” he said. “So we figured, Why not try the matchup zone and see what happens. They weren’t shooting it well and it worked out for us.”
But Southern, which struggled shooting the ball from the perimeter through three quarters, suddenly got hot early in the fourth. The Rams went on a 16-3 run to start the period, cutting Lower’s lead to four at 35-31 as Caden Schubiger and Josh Smith each hit a pair of three-pointers and Max DiPetro scored a couple baskets in the lane.
But Lower (3-5) held Southern without a point for the final three minutes and Archie Lawler and Mike Cronin combined to go 5 for 7 from the foul line in the closing minutes to quell Southern’s comeback attempt.
Lawler led Lower Cape May with 13 points. Cronin added 10 and Jacob Bey and Mackey Bonner each chipped in six.
“We play better when we have balance,” Holden said. “Archie was doing some big-time scoring at the beginning of the year but I think he’s starting to understand that for us to win, yes, we need him to score but we also need him to be a little bit of a playmaker and make the other guys around him better.”
Lower Cape May is next in action Monday at home against Mainland.