Key road win for playoff hopeful Lady Tigers

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The Lower Cape May Regional High school girls basketball team wants to earn one of the eight berths into the Cape-Atlantic League playoff tournament that begins in mid February.

Victories like the one the team earned Tuesday will help in that pursuit.

The Lady Tigers went on the road to beat Our Lady of Mercy Academy, 43-40, in a contest featuring clubs gunning for at least a third-place finish in the Cape-Atlantic National Conference.

This year’s CAL tournament will include eight teams. The first- and second-place finishers in the league’s three conferences automatically qualify for the tournament, with two at-large teams selected by committee.

Ocean City and Middle Township are the favorites to finish in the top two spots in the National Conference. Lower and OLMA are next in line.

“We’re vying for one of those top three spots,” Lower coach Scott Douglass said. “Our conference is very good, so we think the third team in our conference should probably get a nod” into the tournament.

Lower improved to 8-3 overall, 4-2 in conference play and moved into third place in the conference with the win. OLMA dropped to 4-4, 3-2.

Sophomore sensation Lauren Holden poured in a game-high 28 points to lead the Lady Tigers. But some of her best work was done simply handling the basketball late in the game.

“When it got down to about a minute left, (OLMA) only had two (team) fouls so they had to keep trying to foul but Lauren just kept dribbling through them and they couldn’t get us to the line,” Douglass said.

Lower fell behind 10-5 in the first quarter but rallied to take a 29-20 lead in the third period. The Villagers closed to within a point late in the fourth quarter but Lower never relinquished the lead.

“It was a great game,” Douglass said. “Tight all the way.”

Lower has another key game against American Conference foe Mainland tonight (Thursday) before facing county rival Wildwood Catholic Saturday. The game against Mainland represents another against a team jockeying for an at-large berth in the CAL tournament.

“We looked at this game and then the Mainland game as very big for us in terms of the playoffs,” Douglass said. “We needed this one. With Mainland coming up and then Catholic, we didn’t want to start the week off with a loss.”

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