VENTNOR - The Ocean City High School girls basketball team fell short to Prep Charter of Philadelphia 42-40 Monday in the final game of the Ventnor City Showcase.
After taking a 37-29 lead with 3 minutes, 3 seconds to go in the game at the Ventnor Educational Community Complex, the Red Raiders came undone by turnovers and high-pressure situations.
"We need to learn how to handle the ball in pressure situations and understand the clock," Ocean City coach Paul Baruffi said. "There were too many big turnovers."
Prep Charter ran a full-court press throughout the game that Ocean City seemed to handle fairly well, particularly in the third quarter when the Red Raiders outscored their opponent 11-6.
Sophomore Reilly Larkin scored nine of her 10 points in that quarter, including two drives to the basket when the Red Raiders beat the press, leaving open lanes to the basket. Her biggest points came when she scored a field goal at the end of the quarter, giving Ocean City a 28-26 lead.
The fourth quarter was full of action and competition, which was exactly what Prep Charter coach Paul Reiser wanted.
"We will go anywhere to play anyone just so we can compete," Reiser said. "We play in a really weak league, so to come here and play a historically good team like Ocean City, which is so well-coached, helps us raise our game up."
When the Lady Huskies felt tested and lost their lead, they increased their intensity level and the momentum started to go in their favor. LaShay Banks snagged two key offensive rebounds that she converted for points to start their run at a comeback. With 1 minute, 30 seconds to go, she stole the ball from Larkin and beat her to the net for a basket. Larkin was called for a foul, giving Banks an opportunity to convert a three-point play. She succeeded, bringing the Lady Huskies within three (37-35). Banks had 20 points and 16 rebounds for a double-double.
The patience that Ocean City showed against the press early in the game was starting to wane. Prep Charter came up with two more steals at half-court, the most important coming from Emily Gillian with 30 seconds left. Gillian passed the ball to junior Yasmine Montgomery for a 3-pointer and a 39-37 lead.
Ocean City finally broke the press but failed to convert, putting the ball back in the Lady Huskies' hands. The Red Raiders did the smart thing and started to foul. Montgomery and Gillian combined to go 3-for-4 at the line in the closing seconds, giving their team a 10th consecutive win. Montgomery ended up with seven points, all of them coming in the fourth quarter.
"Yasmine only plays eight or 10 minutes a game but always seems to make big shots for us," Reiser said. "She's not afraid to shoot the ball."
Ocean City's only senior, Kelsey Boylan, who also finished with a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds), hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer but there was nothing else she and her teammates could do. Despite their fight and aggressiveness, the team's inconsistency at the foul line was its downfall. The Red Raiders were 8-for-17 overall (47 percent) and 5-for-9 in the fourth quarter.
"If I made a guess, I'd say we shoot 40 percent from the line as a team," Baruffi said. "You can't put teams away if you shoot 40 percent from the foul line. We have to make foul shots, bottom line."
Contact Kelly Ashe:
Prep Charter 9 11 6 16 - 42
Ocean City 6 11 11 12 - 40
PC-Lee 1 2-4 4, Harcum 1 1-2 4, Johnson 2 0-0 5, Banks 9 2-3 20, Holloway 1 0-0 2, Montgomery 2 2-2 7. Totals-16 7-11 42.
OC-Boylan 3 3-6 10, Larkin 3 3-4 10, E. Duggan 3 2-4 8, Robinson 2 0-1 4, J. Duggan 4 0-2 8. Totals-15 8-17 40.
3-pointers-Harcum, Johnson, Montgomery PC, Boylan, Larkin OC.
Records-Prep Charter 12-2, Ocean City 4-5.