Cape-Atlantic League Playoffs: Previews and Predictions [PAGE 3]
No. 8 Lower Cape May Caper Tigers (15-8, 8-4 in National Conference) at
No. 1 Ocean City Red Raiders (17-3, 12-0 in National Conference)
Ocean City's fearsome frontcourt presents a nightmare scenario for most teams in South Jersey. Senior Julia Duggan owns more than 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in her career. The Red Raiders leader locks down the paint with fellow forward Natalie Landi. Senior Katie Johnson provides steady play at point guard, while freshman Nicole Piergross is gradually becoming one of the league's elite perimeter shooters.
Lower is led by outstanding sophomore sharpshooter Lauren Holden, who finished the regular season among CAL scoring leaders. The Tigers are 9-5 on the road. Ocean City lost in the 2012 CAL final to Sacred Heart.
Ocean City is 6-0 against Lower since 2010 and beat the Tigers this season by margins of 20 and 13.
Ocean City 50, Lower Cape May 29
No. 7 St. Joe Wildcats (16-6, 10-3 in United Conference) at
No. 2 Cedar Creek Pirates (17-3, 14-0 in United Conference)
Cedar Creek senior forward Kristine Miller has accomplished plenty in the program's first three varsity seasons. She has scored 1,000 points and earned Player of the Year honors while leading the Pirates to South Jersey, state and United Conference titles. The only thing missing from her high school hoops legacy is a league championship.
Last February, Cedar Creek fell to Middle Township in the first round of league playoffs. Miller and a deep Pirates rotation (filled with Stefanskis) have larger aspirations this year. United Conference foe St. Joe represents the first test.
The Wildcats ended the regular season riding a three-game win streak. St. Joe sophomore Dana DiRenzo is a dynamic post player and one of the CAL's top rebounders.
The Pirates pulverized St. Joe 69-30 in January before winning a much tighter contest 45-37 late in the season. Cedar Creek is 3-3 versus Wildcats since joining the CAL in 2010.
Cedar Creek 61, St. Joe 45
No. 6 Millville Thunderbolts (15-6, 8-4 in American Conference) at
No. 3 Holy Spirit Spartans (16-5, 11-1 in American Conference)
The Spartans roster remains largely intact after a run to the 2012 CAL semifinals. Forwards Gina Lewis and Annie Wenz do plenty of damage in the post, while guards Summer Crilley and Val Garofalo have the ability to light teams up from outside.
Amanda Smith and Ashli Weems are an underrated scoring duo for Millville. Holy Spirit is 30-6 at home since Dennis Smith took over as head coach in 2010.
These conference rivals clashed twice this winter, splitting the series with each team prevailing at home.
Holy Spirit 53, Millville 41
No. 5 Sacred Heart Lions (16-5, 10-3 in United Conference) at
No. 4 Middle Township Panthers (15-7, 10-2 in National Conference)
Both programs enjoyed a successful 2012 postseason experience. Sacred Heart captured the inaugural CAL tournament title after beating the Panthers in semifinal action. Middle Township rebounded from that defeat to claim the South Jersey Group II championship.
Junior Lauryn Fields leads the Panthers in scoring. The speedy guard recently tallied her 1,000th point and has displayed a drastically improved driving ability as a junior. She must be able to find teammates Lauren Legler and Olivia Schwartz in space for rhythm jumpers.
Sacred Heart is anchored inside by Kennedy Johnson. The 6-2 junior might be the league’s best finisher inside. Senior Mandy Buirch came up big during last season’s CAL title run.
These teams last met in the 2012 CAL semifinal round. Sacred Heart stormed past the Panthers 47-24.
Sacred Heart 48, Middle Township 43
*CAL Girls Semifinals:
Ocean City over Sacred Heart; Cedar Creek over Holy Spirit
*CAL Girls Championship:
Cedar Creek over Ocean City
For constant coverage of South Jersey playoff basketball follow Tyler Donohue on Twitter @TDsTake
Tyler hosts High School Hoops Tonight (Thursdays 6-7 p.m.) and The South Jersey Sports Report (Saturdays 9-11 a.m.). Follow him on twitter @TDsTake