Lady Tigers state their case for inclusion

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ERMA – The Lower Cape May Regional High School girls basketball had to beat our Lady of Mercy Academy Monday night to have any chance of earning a wild card bid into the eight-team Cape-Atlantic League playoffs.

The Lady Tigers certainly looked as if they deserved that bid.

After the game was tied 15-15 midway through the second quarter, Lower reeled off an incredible 17 straight points to open up a commanding 32-15 lead. After OLMA finally made two free throws, Lower scored another nine straight points and wound up with a rather easy 56-35 win.

“This was a very important game for us,” Lower Cape May sophomore guard Lauren Holden said. “We really want to make CAL playoffs so this game meant a lot to us.”

Holden led all scorers with 23 points, many of them coming during the Lady Tigers’ game-changing 29-2 run. Maddie Gibson added 10 points, eight of which came in the first half.

Lower opened a lead as large as 44-17 in the second half.

“I think we sped up the game and caused some turnovers and that gave us some easy baskets,” Lower coach Scott Douglass said.

For the latter part of the second quarter and most of the third quarter, OLMA had difficulty simply running its offense – let alone getting good shots at the basket – against the tenacious Lower Cape May defense.

“The coaches before the game said to treat this like a championship game,” said senior forward Megan Turner. “We knew had to treat this with so much intensity.”

Jill Vandermark made a significant impact on the game in the second quarter on defense. She drew three offensive fouls from Ruth Vetra, forcing the standout OLMA senior to the bench.

“Jill drawing those three charges was a big part of the game,” Douglass said.

Lower Cape May (15-8 overall, 8-4 CAL National) has completed its regular-season schedule. The Lady Tigers most likely need Atlantic City to lose to Holy Spirit in a key American Conference game on Tuesday to remain alive for an at-large berth. Then they’ll have to wait and see if they’re selected by the seeding committee during a meeting of the league’s basketball committee on Wednesday.

“Making the tournament has been our goal since the beginning of the year,” Douglass said. “We knew going into this game that we had to win. This was a must win to have a shot at the playoffs.”

The CAL playoff tournament begins with quarterfinal games on Friday at the home courts of the top four seeds, which are likely to be, not necessarily in this order, Ocean City, Cedar Creek, Middle Township and Holy Spirit.

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