By TOM WILLIAMS
In the 26 years the Boo Pergament Memorial Award has been presented there had never been a tie.
Until now, in year 27.
Sophomore Jada Elston of Middle Township and junior Jackie Fortis of Absegami finished in a tie for the girls award, presented annually to the most improved player in Cape-Atlantic League basketball. Junior Nick Montalbano of Wildwood Catholic was the boys winner.
Montalbano played in only nine games as a sophomore in 2019-20 for the Crusaders but this season he led the team with a 13.6 scoring average, among the top 15 in the league. He was second in the league in shooting percentage (64.4%) and a solid rebounder and defender. He is the third Wildwood Catholic player to win the award, joining Trey Smith (2015) and Andrew Morrison (2002).
Elston was part of Middle’s rotation last year but this season helped the Panthers win a conference championship by becoming a solid scorer; leading the league in free throw percentage (90.0%); becoming a strong rebounder and being selected by the CAL coaches to the league’s all-defense team. She is the fourth Middle player to win the award, following Kira Sides (2018), Sarah Roberts (2011) and Stephanie Fowler (2010).
Fortis only played in three games last year because of injury. This season she helped the Braves win their conference title, contributing as a scorer and, like Elston, was named to the all-defense team. She led the CAL in steals, assists and blocked shots. Fortis joins Sara Mostafa (2006), Danielle Parks (2005) and Carrie Adams (1999) as Pergament Award winners from Absegami.
As you can see in the charts, above, many impressive players have been selected by the league’s coaches and selected media for this award. Boo Pergament, who died in 2015, is a member of the South Jersey Basketball Hall of Fame who made a strong impact on area basketball.
Prime Events All Star Saturday, where the award would normally be presented, was cancelled this year because of COVID concerns. And The CAL Celebration on the Ocean City Music Pier, the year-ending awards ceremony, has also been cancelled so the awards will be delivered to the three winners.
The 2021 CAL basketball review is HERE.
The All-CAL teams, selected by the coaches, are HERE.