LINWOOD - Mainland Regional High School's Drew Dalzell kept the Mustangs boys basketball team in the game against Highland Regional in the first half of their South Jersey Group III quarterfinal Wednesday.
Dalzell got plenty of help in the second half as Mainland rallied from a one-point halftime deficit to win it 74-62.
Dalzell, a 5-foot-8 junior guard, scored a career-high 29 points, including 19 in the first half and eight in the fourth quarter. Teammate Darius Jerkins, a 6-5 senior, scored 14 of his 22 points in the second half. Jerkins also had 13 rebounds. Kenny Randall, a 6-3 senior, added 11 points, including seven after intermission.
"We took care of the ball in the second half, and that's what changed the game," Mainland coach Dan Williams said. "Highland's guards were really good, and our advantage was inside. We were able to slow it down and work our pace. We had to pound the ball inside. But Drew kept us in it in the first half. We had no chance if he didn't do what he did."
Top-seeded Mainland (17-10) hosts No. 12 Central Regional at 6 p.m. Friday in a South Jersey Group III semifinal. Central edged 13th-seeded Winslow Township 63-62 in the other quarterfinal. Highland, the ninth seed, ends at 10-14.
Dalzell connected on four 3-pointers in the first half, and scored 13 points in the second quarter.
"I got open and my teammates got it to me," said Dalzell, a 17-year-old Linwood resident. "It was my night, but maybe on another night it'll be someone else's. I was just glad to help the team."
Jerkins had 30 points and 20 rebounds in Mainland's 64-49 win over Woodrow Wilson in Tuesday's Group III first-round game. Highland was watching him closely early and he was held to two points in the first quarter. He added three field goals in the second quarter.
"They were definitely keeping an eye on me," said Jerkins, an 18-year-old Somers Point resident. "We focused on the ball more in the second half, slowed the game down and ran the sets. We got better looks and weren't in a rush."
Mainland missed the playoffs in the first three years of Jerkins' career. Now the Mustangs have two wins in two days.
"I've really been looking forward to it," Jerkins said. "We'll have to have a lot of intensity in the next game, because it's a bigger game than this."
Randall's basket underneath tied the game at 39-39 with three minutes gone in the second half. Jerkins gave the Mustangs the lead 20 seconds later and a pass inside from Randall. Another drive by Randall made it 43-39, and the Tartans could never tie it again.
Highland's Naquan Council scored 26 points, 10 of which came in the second quarter and 10 more in the fourth. Marcus Jones had 12 points for the Tartans and Jerome Furlow had 10.
"Mainland is a good team with really good big guys," Highland coach Cryhten Langhorne said. "They capitalized on our mistakes and No. 1 seeds do that. They handled our pressure in the second half and didn't turn the ball over. The hit their open shots and didn't miss their free throws.
"Ninety percent of our team is back next year, so our future looks bright."
Contact Guy Gargan:
Highland Regional 13 21 8 20-62
Mainland Regional 11 22 13 28-74
HR-Council 9 2-2 26, Lawus 2 0-0 4, Furlow 5 0-1 10, Jones 6 0-0 12, Harden 1 0-0 2, Scafidi 3 2-3 8. Totals-26 4-6 62.
MR-Randall 3 5-9 11, Jerkins 8 6-9 22, Riska 1 0-0 2, Dalzell 8 8-10 29, Jackson 0 1-2 1, McLaughlin 1 1-2 3, Devenney 3 0-0 6. Totals-24 21-32 74.
3-pointers-Council (3) HR. Dalzell (5) MR.
Records-Highland 10-14, Mainland 17-10.