By TOM WILLIAMS
Both Ocean City High School basketball teams will be playing in the Cape-Atlantic League Tournament starting Monday according to seedings announced today by the league.
Paul Baruffi’s girls (17-6), the defending tournament champions, are seeded No. 2 and will face Our Lady of Mercy (17-6) in the first round at the Dixie Howell Memorial Gymnasium on Monday at 6 p.m.
John Bruno’s boys (14-8), who upset Millville in the first round last year, are the No. 8 seed and will travel to North Wildwood on Monday to play Wildwood Catholic (16-7), the No. 1 seed and defending tournament champion.
Some of the seedings are surprising but the No. 2 position for the OCHS girls puts them in a position where they can reach the championship game without playing Mainland, Middle Township or Wildwood Catholic, the three highest ranked teams in the CAL. In other first round girls games, 8th seeded Absegami (14-8) is at No. 1 Wildwood Catholic (20-3), No. 6 Atlantic Tech (14-7) faces No. 3 Atlantic City (15-7) and No. 5 Middle Township (19-4) is at No. 4 Mainland (16-5).
Bruno’s task is much tougher, starting with a Wildwood Catholic team that is one of the best in all of South Jersey. They just took nationally-ranked Camden into overtime and feature 6-8 Taj Thweatt, a West Virginia recruit, and 6-7 Jahlil White, headed to Temple. Other first round boys games find No. 7 seed Pleasantville (11-11) at No. 2 St. Augustine (18-4), No. 6 Holy Spirit (16-7) at No. 3 Mainland (17-5) and No. 5 Atlantic City (17-5) at No. 4 St. Joseph (18-3). All of those are repeat matchups from the regular season.
The brackets are here.
The winners of the first round games will advance to the tournament semi-finals – the boys at Absegami on Wednesday and the girls at Ocean City a week from tomorrow. The losers of first round playoff games will get consolation games. The loser of the Ocean City-Wildwood Catholic boys game will play the winner of the Cedar Creek-Egg Harbor Township game at home. All teams that do not qualify for the tournament are given two consolation games.
The semifinal winners will play for the championship a week from Saturday (Feb. 29) at Stockton University, the girls at noon and the boys to follow.
OCHS Stat Lines: When junior Gannon Brady scored 40 points last night at Cedar Creek he became just the 10th player in Ocean City history to score that many. The last to do it was LaQue Lee, 25 years ago. Last night’s box score is here….Brady increased his career total to 803 points – only 20 players have scored more at OCHS….Brady (21.8) and sophomore Tom Finnegan (9.8) lead the team in scoring. Junior Mike Rhodes (61.2%) leads in shooting accuracy, senior Sam Burns (48.0%) in three-point accuracy and junior Joe Repetti (75.6%) is best from the foul line. Rhodes leads in rebounds (176) and blocked shots (42), Brady in steals (35) and junior Brad Jamison in assists (55). Check out the complete stats for 22 games here….seniors Abbey Fenton (10.7) and Emma Finnegan (6.8) are the leading scorers on the girls team. Finnegan is No. 19 in career scoring at OCHS with 727 points, Fenton has 559, good enough for 35th all-time….Fenton has 64 three-pointers, a new school record for a season. She set a new single-game record with seven earlier this year….sophomore Marin Panico leads the team in shooting (41%), Fenton from three-point range (37%), Finnegan leads in rebounds (175) and blocks (22) and junior Marlee Brestle in steals (64) and assists (50). See the complete girls season stats here….by the way, Rhodes was struggling at the foul line (22%) and then he started shooting underhand (Rick Barry style) four games ago. In those four games he has shot 40% and is moving in the right direction. Barry shot 89 percent for his career….