Atlantic City defeats Middle Twp. for second straight CAL boys championship

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calboysfinal Matt Strabuk/Atlantic City's Dayshawn Reynolds blocks a shot by Middle's Tom Feraco in the Cape-Atlantic League championship game on Feb. 23, 2013. GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - The Atlantic City High School boys basketball team turned up the defensive intensity at the right time Saturday, knocking off Middle Township, 57-51, to win its second straight Cape-Atlantic League championship at Richard Stockton College.

Dayshawn Reynolds scored 16 of his game-high 23 points in the second half as the Vikings (23-1) beat Middle (19-6) for the second year in a row for the titlle.

Middle Township took a 40-38 lead on a pair of free throws by Tom Feraco with less than five minutes to play. But Reynolds sparked a 15-2 Atlantic City run, breaking away on a pair of layups off Middle turnovers.

Reynolds had four steals and six rebounds to go with his season-high 23 points.

“We had to turn the tempo up,” said Atlantic City guard Isiah Graves. “We didn’t mean for the game to be that close, but we did what we had to do to finish the game off.”

The Vikings are known for their sticky, man-to-man defense, and seem to be able to turn it on like a faucet when they need some defensive stops or turnovers.

“It starts at practice,” Graves said. “We practice guarding each other, first, and we’re so competitive, that, in a game, it’s even more competitive because you’re playing against people you don’t even know. So, we can turn it on any time we want, and we just continue to play good defense.”

CALboysFinal Matt Strabuk/Atlantic City's Gabr'iel Chandler goes up for a layup against Middle Twp. in the CAL championship game. The Atlantic City surge seemed to coincide with a moment of frustration on the part of center Jah-leem Montague, who threw the ball in the direction of a Middle player after a tie-up, resulting in a technical foul call.

“Our team has a lot of poise,” Graves said. “If somebody’s down, we all try to lift him up. Sometimes it can be a negative, but we turn it into a positive really quick and keep on playing defense.”

Darrell Shelton scored 14 points to lead Middle, whiich will now go into the South Jersey Group II tournament as the second seed.

Meanwhile, the top-seeded Atlantic City Vikings now begin the quest for a second straight Group IV state title at home against Toms River South on Monday, Feb. 25.

“We look forward to being back-to-back state champions, that’s our No. 1 goal," Graves said. "That’s what we say in practice: ‘Practice like you want to be a state champion, play like you want to be a state champion.’ That’s what we want to be.”

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