A state title is special whether it’s the program’s first or its third. Just ask the Ocean City girls and Atlantic City boys high school basketball teams.
The Ocean City girls won their first-ever state title Sunday, while the Atlantic City boys won their second in a row and third overall.
The Red Raiders beat Jefferson Township 50-37 in the state Group III girls final in Toms River. The Vikings defeated Linden 60-54 in overtime in the state Group IV boys final in Piscataway.
“We just made history for Ocean City basketball,” Red Raiders senior Julia Duggan said. “That’s more than I could ever ask for.”
Ocean City, which lost in the state finals in 1979 and 2008, led from start to finish this time.
Atlantic City’s game was more dramatic.
The Vikings trailed by four points at halftime and were down three in the final minute. Dayshawn Reynolds’ 3-pointer tied it, and Isaiah Graves made two 3s in overtime to help them pull away.
“I probably will never have another group like this again,” Atlantic City coach Gene Allen said. Both teams will advance to the Tournament of Champions. Atlantic City was seeded third in the boys TOC and will face No. 6 Point Pleasant Beach, the Group I champion, at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Toms River. Ocean City, the sixth-seeded girls team, will face No. 3 Red Bank Catholic at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Toms River.