Vikings roll through T.R. North, face Lenape for sectional crown

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The storm hit Toms River North late in the second quarter. It struck again at the start of the third.

By the time it was over, the Atlantic City Vikings had swamped Toms River North, 56-36, in the NJSIAA South Group IV boys basketball semifinal Friday at Atlantic City High School.

The Vikings (26-1), still on course for their second consecutive state title, will next face Lenape Regional on Monday, March 4, at Atlantic City for the sectional crown.

Atlantic City survived a scare from Southern Regional in the second round. On Friday, from the outset it was clear the Vikings would not be denied.

“We just worked harder tonight,” said center Jah-leem Montague, who had 16 points and eight rebounds to lead Atlantic City. “We had a better defensive game, we were more turned up. We just executed better.”

“Before the game, coach (Gene Allen) just preached intensity, have fun, play as a family,” said Ga’briel Chandler, who pulled down 12 rebounds. “As a senior, every game could be our last, so we don’t want to go out with a loss. We’re playing our hearts out.”

Dayshawn Reynolds, Dennis White and Isaiah Graves each scored eight points for the top-seeded Vikings, who have won 15 straight and are ranked No. 1 in South Jersey.

Solly Stansbury scored 18 points for Toms River North.

Time and time again, the Vikings used ball-hawking full-court pressure and noose-tight interior defense to force turnovers and breakaway baskets.

They launched an 8-0 run at the end of the first half to take a 32-18 lead into the locker room. Then, after spotting Stansbury a 3-pointer to start the third quarter, they unleashed a 10-0 run to salt the game away.

At that point, the lead was 44-21, and Atlantic City fans were pointing to the scoreboard in response to the chants of T.R. North supporters.

“As long as we’ve got our crowd behind us we’re going to keep doing it, and keep hearing their roar,” Montague said.

After rolling through both of “Tom’s Rivers” (North and South), and surviving their wake-up call from Southern in Round Two, Atlantic City will now face Lenape for a chance at their second straight South Group IV title.

Lenape (25-3), the second seed, advanced to the sectional final with a 51-27 win over Shawnee Friday.

It will be the second straight year Atlantic City has faced Lenape in the Group IV tournament. Last year, Graves scored all 11 of his points in the fourth quarter and overtime to lead the Vikings to a 47-44 OT victory over the Indians in a South Group IV quarterfinal.

The stakes will be even higher when the teams meet again on Monday night.

“We feel as though we can escalate this and turn it up even more, and build on top of this win,” Montague said. “We’re going to come to play, and we’re going to come with intensity.”

That’s a scary thought for any opponent in the path of this storm.

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