st. aug basketball

St. Augustine 14 Brian Seward turns the corner on Willingboro 24 Andrew Nelson during the second half. Saturday December 15 2012 St. Augustine / Willingboro Basketball at Ocean City High School. (The Press of Atlantic City / Ben Fogletto)

Ben Fogletto

OCEAN CITY - The St. Augustine Prep boys basketball team probably would have slowed the tempo against Willingboro last season.

But not now.

The Hermits - who are smaller but quicker in 2012-13 - pushed the ball at every opportunity Saturday and beat Willingboro 60-49 in an Ocean City PBA Tipoff Weekend game at Ocean City High School.

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Willingboro, the defending South Jersey Group II champion, usually prefers to play at a fast pace. But St. Augustine finished Saturday's game with more fast break points (14) than the Chimeras (4).

Forward Blake Rossell sank 7-of-9 shots to score a game-high 16 points for the Hermits. St. Augustine led by two points at halftime.

"In the first half, Willingboro started out with a better tempo and wanted it more," Rossell said. "At halftime, coach (Paul Rodio) told us if we wanted to win we would have to be more aggressive. We had to dive for those loose balls. I think were more aggressive in the second half and if we keep doing that we can be good the rest of the season."

St. Augustine's win wasn't the only impressive victory by a Cape-Atlantic League team Saturday. Atlantic City, No. 1 in The Press Elite 11, controlled the second half and beat Medford Tech 76-57.

St. Augustine, No. 6 in The Elite 11, took control with a 9-0 third-quarter run that turned a three-point Hermits lead into a 52-40 St. Augustine advantage with 3 minutes, 7 seconds left in the period.

St. Augustine's returning starters - Rossell and guards Michael Greenman and David Sullivan - sparked the surge. Sullivan scored six of his 15 points during the run. Greenman (seven assists, three steals) contributed a steal and a layup.

But what makes the Hermits more athletic than past season are newcomers Brian Seward and Joe Gatto. Seward, a 6-2 junior, scored seven points, grabbed seven rebounds and had four assists. Gatto, a 6-4 junior, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked a shot.

"We are quicker than we were last year," Rodio said. "We don't have that one big 6-7 or 6-8 guy, but to compensate for that guy we have a bunch of 6-3 or 6-4 guys who are little quicker than everybody else. We get up and down and that's the tempo we want."

* * *

Fans of the Atlantic City boys basketball team gave Ga-briel Chandler a well-deserved standing ovation when he left Saturday's game.

The 6-5 senior forward sank 14-of-18 shots, scored 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Vikings.

Chandler came off the bench last season for the Vikings, who won the state Group IV title. But Chandler had to sit the first 30 days of last season after transferring from Atlantic Christian in Egg Harbor Township. After playing football this fall, Chandler appears to be in better physical condition.

"I feel great," Chandler said. "I feel like I'm a better part of the team now. I feel comfortable."

Medford Tech (1-1) is a South Jersey Group II contender. The Vikings trailed early but a 14-2 second-quarter run gave them a 30-26 lead with 2:26 left in the first half. Atlantic City never trailed again. Vikings guards Dayshawn Reynolds and Isaiah Graves scored 18 and 10 points, respectively.

Atlantic City 6-9 center Jahleem Montague, who injured his knee in the preseason played nearly nine minutes and scored four points on two dunks that drew roars from the crowd.

"We're going to take it game by game," Vikings coach Gene Allen said when asked about Montague's status. "We'll see how he feels and go from there."

Contact Michael McGarry:


Willingboro 7 17 9 16-49

St. Augustine Prep 13 13 13 21-60

W-Robbins 1 4-6 6, Farrior 6 0-0 14, Briggs 3 1-1 7, Robinson 3 0-0 6, Taylor 2 1-2 5, Haddock 2 2-2 7, Saturne 1 2-2 4. Totals-18 10-13 49.

SA-Greenman 3 0-3 7, Sullivan 5 4-4 15, Gatto 2 1-4 5, Seward 3 1-2 7, Rossell 7 2-3 16, Segal 0 2-2 2, A. Nelson 0 1-2 1, Vasturia 1 2-2 4, Warren 1 1-2 3. Totals-22 14-24 60.

3-pointers-Farrior (2), Haddock W. Greenman, Sullivan.

Records-S.A. 2-0; W. 0-2.

Medford Tech 22 11 16 8-57

Atlantic City 16 24 20 16-76

MT-Harris 1 0-0 2, Powell 7 6-7 23, Tunstall 2 2-3 6, Cain 5 5-6 16, Ali 1 0-0 2, Jones 1 0-0 2, Armstead 0 2-2 2, Williams 0 2-2 2, Coulanges 1 0-0 2. Totals-18 17-20 57.

AC-T. Reynolds 3 0-0 6, Thomas 2 0-0 5, Montague 2 0-2 4, D. Reynolds 8 2-3 18, White 2 0-0 4, Graves 5 0-0 10, Chandler 14 0-1 29. Totals-36 2-6 76.

3-pointers-Powell (3), Cain MT. Chandler, Thomas AC.

Records-A.C. 2-0; M.T. 1-1.

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