February 1, 2012

Hoops galore in February

Sports Columnist

Itís February again and area basketball fans are smiling. Even bigger than usual.

Great basketball events start this weekend. The Battle By The Bay is scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at ACHS. It is one of the stateís premier boys basketball events, which also includes girls games, for some strange reason.

On Friday night, Atlantic Cityís girls will face Cedar Creek and the Atlantic City boys meet Plymouth Whitemarsh in a doubleheader starting at 6:30.

A tripleheader begins on Saturday at 11am with the Ocean City girls against Point Pleasant Boro, Holy Spirit boys meeting Piscataway Tech and Plainfield against Henry Wise MD. The evening doubleheader on Saturday, starting at 5, matches Linden against Boys & Girls NY and St. Patrick against St. Joseph-Metuchen, two top 10 South Jersey teams.

On Super Bowl Sunday, Boys & Girls returns to face Phillyís Math Civics & Science at noon and the event wraps up with Atlantic City taking on Pleasantville, with the highly popular cheerleader throw-down at halftime.

A week later (Feb. 11-12) the girls will play in the Future Stars at Mainland and the boys will play in the Olympic-Cape Challenge at St. Augustine Prep.

The first high school girls game on Feb. 11 (11:30am) will match Mainland against Lower Cape May. Next, Atlantic City will meet No. 13 Willingboro. No. 12 Ocean City plays Camden Catholic at 3, followed by No. 10 Middle Township against No. 18 Holy Spirit. The final two games on Saturday are Absegami-Williamstown and Cherry Hill East-Central.

The Mainland action starts Sunday morning at 10:15. The first game pairs Vineland and Point Pleasant Boro, followed by No. 7 ranked Seneca against Piscataway. At 1:45, No. 8 Sacred Heart plays No. 11 Washington Township, followed by Cedar Creek-Clearview and St. Joseph-Cherokee.

The Olympic-Cape Challenge at St. Augustine Prep, features 13 boys games. On Saturday, Mainland starts it off against Seneca at 11:30 a.m., followed by Vineland-Winslow. Starting at 2:45, Ocean City meets No. 17 Cherry Hill East, No. 20 Wildwood Catholic faces Camden Catholic and No. 10 St. Augustine battles No. 6 Eastern.

On Sunday morning in the Rodio Gym, Sacred Heart plays Pennsauken at 11:30, followed by St. Joseph-Cherokee, Middle Township-Camden, Holy Spirit-Woodrow Wilson and Atlantic City-Paul VI.

In the Spina Gym at St. Augustine on Feb. 12 starting at noon, Egg Harbor Township plays Timber Creek, Bridgeton takes on Cherry Hill West and Oakcrest plays Triton.

The next weekend is Presidentís Weekend (Feb. 18-20) and the 17th annual Hoop Mountain Shootout at Holy Spirit has another strong lineup with 14 games in three days.

Saturday begins with Egg Harbor Township-Oakcrest at noon, followed by Mainland-Our Lady of Mercy and Atlantic City against Mary Louis (NY) Academy. The final two games at 5:15 are Ocean City-Trenton Central and Holy Spirit-Winslow.

On Sunday, Central meets Moorestown at 1pm, followed by Middle Township-Neptune, Sacred Heart-Christ The King NY and St. Joseph-Lenape.

On Monday, the always strong Presidentís Day lineup includes Vineland against Atlantic Christian; Trenton Central vs South Shore NY; Shabazz, the stateís top team, against Rancocas Valley, Ocean City against Curtis (NY) High School and wraps up with Holy Spirit against Willingboro.

In addition, the day before the Hoop Mountain Shootout begins, eight of the 12 qualifiers will begin playing in the brand new Cape-Atlantic League playoffs. The boys semifinals will be Feb. 21 at Hammonton and the girls semis on Feb. 22 at St. Augustine. The CAL championship doubleheader will be on Feb. 25 at Richard Stockton College.

All this basketball in one month, just a few minutes from where you live. And, if wrestling is your bag, the NJSIAA Team Tournament is about to start, the District 32 Tournament will be at Absegami, the Region 8 Tournament at EHT, followed by the NJSIAA state tournament in Atlantic City.

The state basketball tournament begins on Feb. 27 and there will be many local teams playing. But, until then, there is some great basketball. Fans from around South Jersey and the rest of the state will have to travel to these events. But they are right in your backyard.

Because it is February and Atlantic County is the center of the high school basketball world!

Read more of Tom Williams' columns