No. 1 Atlantic City escapes with win over St. Augustine at Battle by the Bay

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Not all victories can be masterpieces. Some are more like those avant-garde splatter paintings: bold, messy and thought-provoking, but not too pretty.

Such was the case of Atlantic City’s exciting 47-45 win over St. Augustine Friday night in the showcase game of the Battle by the Bay at Atlantic City High School.

Dennis White’s basket off a flurry of turnovers with 3.8 seconds left allowed the top-ranked Vikings to escape with a come-from-behind win.

Atlantic City, ranked No. 1 in South Jersey, improved to 15-1 and put a stranglehold on the top seed in the Cape-Atlantic League boys basketball tournament, which begins Feb. 15. Fifth-ranked St. Augustine fell to 15-2.

“We survived that one,” said Atlantic City’s Dayshawn Reynolds, who scored all 17 of his points in the second half. “I can’t even describe what happened, but it came down to making plays at the end. We didn’t play the best game tonight, but we came together on defense in the fourth quarter.”

The final sequence of this back-and-forth game was – appropriately – a back-and-forth flurry of turnovers.

First, St. Augustine’s Michael Greenman stole the ball and appeared to be going in for the go-ahead basket.

Instead, Atlantic City’s Isiah Graves made a heads-up defensive play and dislodged the ball to teammate Dzja Chase, who sent it upcourt to Jahleem Montague, who found White at the end of the chain for the go-ahead layup.

David Sullivan’s off-balance shot was off the mark at the buzzer.

White had 11 points and six rebounds for the Vikings, who have won 25 straight games against CAL teams since a loss to St. Augustine in Jan. 2012.

Sullivan led the Hermits with 12 points. Brian Seward gave the Hermits a big lift with 10 points off the bench.

Atlantic City was outscored 17-5 in the second quarter and trailed by five at halftime. The Vikings trailed by seven on a back-door basket by Sullivan midway through the third quarter.

But the Vikings reeled off eight straight points, including a 3-point shot by Reynolds, to tie the game at 33 with 3:15 left in the third quarter.

Reynolds hit two more 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to keep the game close. Seward tied the game at 45 with a pair of foul shots with 28 seconds left before the final wild sequence.

“We were very fortunate to come out of this with a win,” said Atlantic City coach Gene Allen. “Not to take anything away from (St. Augustine). Our continuity wasn’t there tonight. Everything they did we expected them to do … we just didn’t execute well. We usually don’t get back-doored, we usually don’t get outworked on the offensive glass. I give them a lot of credit, but we’re trying to make a ’10-point play’ and there’s no such thing.

“We have to do some soul-searching, we have to get better. But it’s good to get a win against a quality team, and definitely something to build upon. Not all of the wins are going to be pretty, but we’ll take it.”

Earlier Friday at the Battle by the Bay, Holy Spirit beat George Washington (Pa.) behind Paul Moore’s 25 points.

 


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