Crusaders, Lady Panthers Rule the CAL
One Cape-Atlantic League Championship game went down to a final mid-court heave; the other was decided well before halftime.
The Wildwood Catholic Crusaders and the Middle Township Lady Panthers are conference champions after winning on Saturday afternoon at Stockton College. While both games looked to go down to the wire, only one team facing a big deficit responded to the challenge in the second half.
In the boys title game, it was all Wildwood Catholic often and early. The Crusaders outscored the Vikings 15-2 in the first quarter thanks to Jordan Robertson's seven points. Atlantic City went 1-for-9 from the field with three turnovers in the opening period.
Things continued to get worse for the Vikings, as Wildwood Catholic used strong defense and key scoring to keep a double-digit lead for nearly all of the quarter. Coach Gene Allen's team launched up several long three-pointers in an attempt to cut into the deficit, but the unusually low shooting percentage had Atlantic City in a 26-10 hole at the break.
The nightmare only continued for the Vikings coming out of the locker room. Atlantic City actually eclipsed their poor shooting mark in the first quarter by going 1-for-10 from the field in the third. Sloppy play, turnovers and a strong effort from the Crusaders saw them build a 30-point advantage going into the final quarter.
While the Vikings turned in a better performance in the fourth, the hole ultimately proved to be too much for Atlantic City. Wildwood Catholic kept the intensity up until coach Dave DeWeese cleared his bench with minutes to play. The final score reflected a tremendous performance by the Crusaders, who earned a shocking 61-33 victory over the two-time defending conference champions.
Here are some of the best calls from the Cape-Atlantic League Boys Championship Game:
Crusaders bucket followed by quick Vikings turnover:
Robertson's monster slam dunk:
Robertson, Crusaders "ambushing" Atlantic City
Final seconds of Wildwood Catholic victory
In the girls championship game, a strong second half powered Middle Township over Wildwood Catholic, as the Panthers earned a well-deserved 42-39 win.
It looked grim for Middle Township in the first half; Kennedy Johnson led the way with 12 points, Middle shot just 16% from the field, and the Crusaders led by as many as 15 before taking an eight-point lead into halftime.
The second half proved to be a much different story: spurred by Lauryn Fields, the Panthers chipped away at the deficit in the third quarter. An unusual technical foul on Johnson allowed Middle to tie the game late, and take a two-point lead into the final frame.
After trading the lead early, the Panthers jumped out in front, and held off Wildwood Catholic in the final minutes and watched a long game-tying three-point shot fall short at the buzzer.
Fields led Middle with 14 points, including eight in the second half, while Johnson led all scorers with 20 points and 10 rebounds. The Panthers outscored Wildwood Catholic 28-17 in the second half, including 23-10 to end the game. Middle Township improves to 21-5 with the win; the Crusaders fall to 20-6 with the defeat.
Here are some of the best calls from the Cape-Atlantic League Girls Championship Game:
Kennedy Johnson's long-three pointer to end 1st quarter
Fields and Peterson help Middle Township tie game
Panthers grab lead at 3rd quarter buzzer
Final seconds of Middle Township victory
Here are some of the interviews on this week's edition of the South Jersey Sports Report, live from the gymnasium inside Stockton College:
Dave DeWeese, Wildwood Catholic head basketball coach
Gene Allen, Atlantic City head basketball coach
Kevin Minnick, Courier-Post sports reporter
Tom Bucci, Southern Regional head girls basketball coach
Tom Williams, South Jersey Hall of Fame sports reporter
John O'Kane, Press of Atlantic City sports reporter
John Leahy, Middle Township head girls basketball coach
Steve DiPatri, Wildwood Catholic head girls basketball coach
Mike McGarry, Press of Atlantic City sports reporter
Brian Cunniff, Cape May County Gazette sports reporter
Tim Legler, ESPN NBA analyst & father of Middle Township senior Lauren Legler
We’d also like to congratulate the South Jersey Athlete of the Week:
Basketball, Wildwood Catholic
It’s all right here, on The South Jersey Sports Report. Listen every Saturday, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on 97.3 ESPN-FM or 973espn.com, and catch the expanded edition every Thursday night from 6-7 p.m.
Follow Tyler Donohue on Twitter @TDsTake