The latest 97.3 ESPN High School Athlete of the Week poll featured four veteran basketball standouts on the doorstep of league championship games. Despite the excitement surrounding Saturday's Cape-Atlantic League hoops championships, it was a freshman ice hockey player who came out on top after nearly 30,000 total votes were counted.

Southern Regional youngster Ryan Rowland collected nearly 56 percent of the final tally, surging past Holy Spirit junior guard Summer Crilley (33 percent). He is the first ice hockey player to earn South Jersey High School Athlete of the Week honors.

Sacred Heart senior Mandy Buirch finished third (8 percent). Middle Township senior Darrell Shelton and Atlantic City junior Dennis White placed fourth and fifth, respectively.

Rowland, a blueliner, rallied the Rams past Point Pleasant Boro with a pair of late goals. The freshman fired a game-tying goal with three minutes left in regulation before connecting on a game-winner in overtime.

Southern Regional prevailed 4-3. Rowland has accumulated 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in his first high school season. He joins his brother Johnnie, a sophomore, as a second-team Shore Conference All-Star.

Visit every Thursday for a new High School Athlete of the Week poll brought to you by Drake Pest Management. Voters can vote more than once.Poll is open until 10 a.m. Saturday.

Winner announced on The South Jersey Sports Report with Tyler Donohue (Saturdays 9-11 a.m.). Nominate an athlete by clicking here or post your suggestions for High School Athlete of the Week directly on the 97.3 ESPN Facebook page.

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