The Vineland High School girls basketball team was outscored by a basket in the fourth quarter Tuesday against Atlantic City. But the Fighting Clan's play in the period made all the difference in a 58-52 win.
Atlantic City, No. 8 in The Press' Elite 11, refused to give the Fighting Clan the win easily. The Vikings outscored Vineland 20-18 and cut the lead to three points.
But Vineland (7-3) held on. A big reason why was Alicia Cox, who had 12 of her team-high 25 points in the fourth quarter. Cox also had five rebounds, five steals and four assists. Jasmine Lewis added 18 points.
"Alicia just went crazy in the fourth," Vineland coach Rick Baruffi said. "I don't think she missed a shot in that quarter."
Baruffi called it the best game Vineland has played to date.
"For the first time all year, we played 32 strong minutes," he said. "And we had to, because Atlantic City played an excellent game."
The upset put Vineland in a good position in the Cape-Atlantic League American Conference Division I. The Fighting Clan are the only Division I team that is unbeaten in division play.
"We all knew how big the game (against Atlantic City) was," Baruffi said.
Vineland also seized the opportunity provided by Atlantic City's tough schedule. The Vikings played three games in four days, including one Saturday against state power Trenton Central.
"It gave us a little bit of an advantage," Baruffi said. "It had to be harder for them to play us that day."
Everyday improvements propelled the Fighting Clan's recent success. Vineland has won four straight, including another big win over Our Lady of Mercy Academy on Saturday.
To continue its winning trend, Vineland hopes for at least 20 points per game from its inside players, Baruffi said. That would complement Cox and Lewis, who can usually be counted on to combine for around 30 points.
OLMA pulls upset
There another upset in the CAL on Tuesday night, when OLMA beat Sacred Heart for the first time ever, 54-53.
Tori Peacock scored at the buzzer to beat the Lions, whose only previous loss this season was to No. 4 Holy Spirit.
After spending much of the first half on the bench in foul trouble, Peacock scored seven of her nine points in the second half.
Sacred Heart led by nine at halftime, but OLMA came out firing in the third quarter and used an 8-0 run to get back in the game.
Ashley Ridgeway had a big game for the Villagers, scoring 12 points and pulling down 13 rebounds.
OLMA quietly has been one of the tougher teams in the CAL National Conference, but the win over the Lions made a loud statement.
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