OCEAN CITY — The Lower Cape May Regional High School boys basketball team combined the consistency of Pat Holden with the timely shooting of Martin Anguelov and Pat Moore on Friday night.
The result was the biggest win of the young season for the Caper Tigers.
Holden scored 16 points and had eight assists as Lower beat Ocean City 55-40 in a Cape-Atlantic League National Division game. Lower (8-2) is tied for the division lead with Holy Spirit.
“Ocean City is always a hard place to play,” Holden said. “We knew in the back of our heads that it was a divisional game. We wanted to come in here and make a statement, and I think that’s what we did.”
Zach Cerasi also scored 16 points for the Caper Tigers, while Anguelov scored 12. Lower center Aaron Cottrell scored just two points, but he grabbed eight rebounds and contributed two assists and a blocked shot.
“Aaron has been a four-year starter,” said Lower coach and Holden’s uncle Scott Holden. “He comes out and does some grunt work for us. He can handle the ball, and he gave us a huge layup in the third quarter.”
Lower and Ocean City (6-3) entered the game undefeated in the division. Lower’s only defeats this season are a pair of losses to Middle Township by a total of eight points. Lower lost to Middle 58-56 Wednesday night. That loss motivated the Caper Tigers.
“We were ready to get back out on the court,” Pat Holden said.
Lower began to take control in the second quarter Friday night. Anguelov, a freshman, sank all four of his 3-pointers in the second quarter as the Caper Tigers methodically built a six-point halftime lead.
Anguelov cooled off in the third quarter, but that was just fine because Moore (six points) and Cerasi picked up the pace.
Cottrell began the third quarter with a layup. Moore sank his only baskets of the game — a pair of 3-pointers — in the period. His second 3-pointer put Lower up 37-27 with 3 minutes, 5 seconds left in the third.
Lower’s lead never again dipped below double digits. Cerasi was a big reason why. He sank two 3-pointers and scored 10 points in the final 10 minutes.
Pat Holden was a steady presence at point guard the entire game. He often found teammates open on the perimeter for 3-point shots.
“We have a lot of depth this year,” Pat Holden said. “We have two or three guys who can really shoot it from the outside and make different plays for us. It really opens the floor for me and other players.”
The CAL Tournament doesn’t start until Feb. 16. The top two teams in each of the league’s three divisions earn automatic bids.
Friday’s win gives Lower a boost toward the tournament. The Caper Tigers won 18 games but did not make the tournament last season.
“The (CAL Tournament) is in the back of our heads,” Pat Holden said. “But we just want to focus on doing the best we can in our division. When the tournament comes, we’ll focus on that but that’s what we’re striving for.”
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Lower Cape May 7 20 15 13 – 55
Ocean City 6 15 6 13 – 40
LCM – Holden 16, Matthews 1, Cottrell 2, Moore 6, Anguelov 12, Cerasi 16, Bonner 2
OC – Graham 10. Sacco 7, Varallo 9, McQuarrie 3, Jamison 7, Robertson 3
3-pointers – LCM. Holden, Anguelov (4), Moore (2), Cerasi (2); OC. Sacco
Records – Lower 8-2; Ocean City 6-3