By TOM WILLIAMS
With a couple minutes left in the third quarter tonight in Linwood there must have been some Ocean City High School fans who were thinking about making an early exit from the overcrowded Mainland Regional High School gym. They might get home in time to catch Friday Night Smackdown on Fox.
But most of them stayed and they were treated to a great OCHS rally.
The Raiders trailed by 22 points with less than three minutes left in the third period and still were down 13 entering the fourth quarter. But they ended up with the ball and a chance to tie the game in the final seconds before losing, 63-62, in the Cape-Atlantic League National Conference debut by both teams.
Ocean City dug its own hole by making just 18 percent of its shots in the first half while Mainland converted 46 percent of its shots for a 33-14 lead. Senior Jake Cook had 11 points, senior Jaquan Mace 10 and senior Luke Mazur nine for the Mustangs. Junior Gannon Brady had nine of Ocean City’s 14 but he made only three of his 13 shots.
In the second half, however, the Raiders gradually eased back into the game until they started a furious rally that cut the Mainland lead from 13 points with just under four minutes left in the game to just three with 56 seconds on the clock.
Two free throws by Cook built the lead back to five but Brady got a bucket and free throw to make it 62-60 with 27 seconds left. With 18.2 seconds remaining, Mace was fouled and made one of two. Mainland led, 63-60, but the Raiders had the ball. Brady managed to get free for a three-pointer but it bounced off the rim. Mike Rhodes corralled the rebound and scored with three seconds to play to cut the lead to one. When OCHS coach John Bruno could not get a timeout, the game ended with a Mustangs win.
Brady scored 24 and grabbed 10 rebounds. Junior Joe Repetti, who was scoreless in the first half, got 17 points, three assists and two steals in a tremendous second half. Junior Brad Jamison added nine points and nine rebounds and junior Ben Hoag was a spark off the bench making two clutch three-pointers, five steals and three assists.
Ocean City shot 52 percent in the second half but the Raiders hurt themselves by missing seven straight free throws in the middle of their fourth quarter rally.
Mazur finished with 21 points for Mainland with Cook getting 19 and Mace 13. The complete box score is here.
They play again on Monday, Jan. 27 in the Dixie Howell Gym. Circle the date.