DEPTFORD – It would be wrong to say Ocean City High School coach Paul Baruffi wasn’t at least a little bit disappointed with the way the season ended for his girls basketball team.
But neither was the coach totally down about the fact that his South Jersey Group 3 championship team couldn’t make it past the state semifinal.
Ewing avenged an overtime loss to the Red Raiders in this game last year and cruised to a 62-37 win in a game played at Deptford High School to earn a shot at the state championship.
That the Red Raiders were able to upset Cape-Atlantic League rival Mainland to repeat as South Jersey champions was quite an accomplishment, Baruffi said.
“We were here last year and if you told me we’d be here again, I would have said no way,” Baruffi said. “To their credit, they worked hard and they believed and some good things happened.”
Ocean City was in the game through the first quarter, but fell out of it when they were held to only two points in the second quarter.
Ewing went on a 12-2 run in the quarter ending with consecutive 3-point goals in the closing seconds.
One, a corner bank shot by MyAsia Jackson as the seconds were winding down at the end of the half was a back-breaker.
“That hurt,” Baruffi said. “It would have been an eight-point game, and it ended up being an 11-point game (25-14) at the half. But give them credit. They played very well, especially when we tried to press. They just went right through it."
Jaycee Lowe and Jentile Sheridan led Ewing with 16 points each, while Ocean City could place no one in double figures in scoring. Savanna Hilt and Danielle Donoghue led the Red Raiders with eight points each.
Seniors Michaela Baker and Kilie Wyers were both limited by foul trouble as they saw their scholastic careers come to and end. Both took the loss with a lot of grace.
“I think once the game started, we tried to run our plays and they (Ewing) played very aggressive – very up in our faces,” said Wyers. “We tried to make moves on them, but we just had a rough time handling the ball. We were getting shots, but they just weren’t going.”
That was especially true in the second quarter. Down by just one point, 13-12, at the start of the session, the Red Raiders could get nothing going offensively.
“I think we lost a little bit of what we usually do in the games,” said Baker. “They were a strong team. They were very athletic and very fast.”
Ewing also put on a big display of offensive rebounding and got many points off put-backs or fast breaks off steals.
“We started out hitting some shots, but then I think we fell apart a little bit,” Baker said. “We tried to pick it up in the fourth quarter but we were a little too late – there wasn't enough time.”
After Ewing turned the game around in the second quarter, the Red Raiders never could recover.
Ewing began the second half in a similar fashion that they ended the first half by scoring 11 of the first 15 points to open a commanding 36-18 lead.
The third quarter ended with Ewing still ahead 42-24, and there was no way the Red Raiders could overcome that deficit, or even really come close.
“We were playing a game that’s not our game a lot of times – trying to scramble and get back in,” Baruffi said. “Give them credit. They were the better team, but I’m proud of my team for being here.”
State Group 3 Semifinal
Ocean City 12 2 10 13-37
Ewing 13 12 17 18-62
OC: Danielle Donoghue 8, Kilie Wyers 3, Michaela Baker 2, Savannah Holt 8, Moly Hoffman 5, Abbey Fenton 4, Emma Finnigan 7.
E: Kiyla Paterson 6, Myra Grimes 11, MyAsia JAckson 9, Tyquaza Davis 4, Jaycee Lowe 16, Jentile Sherian 16.