By BRIAN CUNNIFF
CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – LaMarr Greer played his college basketball in the Atlantic Coast Conference, so the head coach for the Middle Township High School boys basketball team isn’t expecting nor does he want sympathy regarding how difficult his team’s schedule is.
“This is how you have to do it,” said Greer, who starred at Florida State before a long pro career overseas. “I came up in the ACC. It was Duke, (North) Carolina, Virginia, Maryland – someone good every night. This is my comfort zone. Now we have to get our kids comfortable with that. But we’ll be fine.”
Greer was speaking after his team’s 41-37 loss to Egg Harbor Township in a Cape-Atlantic National Conference game Thursday. The defeat to an EHT team that started five seniors dropped a talented but young Panther side that has played a brutally difficult schedule so far to 3-4 overall, 0-3 in conference games.
Middle trailed by a point at the half but struggled mightily against EHT’s zone defense in the third quarter, the Eagles holding Middle scoreless for the first 6 ½ minutes of the period.
“Experience is how you fix it,” Greer said of his team’s troubles against EHT’s zone. “We can try to draw it up for them but they have to go through it. Experience is the best teacher. It’s good that we’re learning things now in our seventh game instead of on the road in the playoff game when it really matters.”
Middle turned EHT over six times in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter and cut the Eagles’ lead to five. Twice in the last two minutes, Middle had its deficit to three but could get no closer.
Jamir McNeil finished with 11 points and five steals to lead Middle. Re’Ale Basquine added eight points and 10 rebounds and Anthony Trombetta also had eight points.
Jay-Nelly Reyes (12) and Jamil Wilkins (10) each scored in double figures for EHT (8-1, 3-1).
Middle, a team that doesn’t start a senior, faces another tough opponent Saturday in a non-league game with Bishop Eustace.
“This is the only way to get these kids better,” Greer said. “If we don’t schedule hard we’re cheating the kids. We chose to play these games. This is how we’ll get better.”