The Cape-Atlantic League high schools boys basketball tournament begins tonight.
Anticipation for the event is greater than ever.
The top four seeds - No. 1 Holy Spirit, No. 2 St. Augustine Prep, No. 3 Atlantic City and No. 4 Wildwood Catholic - have taken turns beating each other all season.
The No. 5 seed Millville proved it's a legitimate contender with a 66-57 upset of St. Augustine Prep last Friday.
Atlantic City is the two-time defending champion. The quarterfinals are tonight. The semifinals are Thursday at Hammonton and the championship is 2 p.m. Saturday at Richard Stockton College in Galloway Township.
Here is a preview of tonight's games.
Who: Eighth-seeded Oakcrest (12-10) vs. top-seeded Holy Spirit (17-5)
When/where: 7 tonight at Holy Spirit
Radio: 94.3 FM
What's next: Winner advances to the semifinals 7 p.m. Thursday at Hammonton against the winner of tonight's quarterfinal between Millville and Wildwood Catholic
Oakcrest update: The Falcons lost to Holy Spirit 58-48 on Feb. 10. Oakcrest finished second in the National Division. This is the Falcons' first CAL tournament appearance. Oakcrest relies on the scoring of LaDarrell Dixon (13. 6 points per game) and Jordan Brooks. Sophomore Trevor Little is an accurate outside shooter with more than 40 3-pointers made.
Holy Spirit update: The Spartans emerged as the top seed after recent wins over Atlantic City and St. Augustine Prep. Senior forward Junior Saintel averages 15.2 points and 6.7 rebounds. Junior guard John Middleton (11.4 ppg) and sophomore forward Leon Daniels (10.8 ppg) also average in double figures. Junior forward Jordan Taylor averages 9.9 points.
Who: Fifth-seeded Millville (17-4) vs. fourth-seeded Wildwood Catholic (19-4)
Where/when: 8 tonight at Wildwood Catholic
Radio: 106.3 FM
What's next: Winner advances to the semifinals 7 p.m. Thursday at Hammonton against the winner of tonight's quarterfinal between Oakcrest and Holy Spirit.
Millville update: The Thunderbolts only losses are to Holy Spirit and Atlantic City. Millville has impressive wins over St. Augustine Prep and Cherry Hill East. Millville is 26-8 in its last 34 games, dating back to last season. The Thunderbolts are senior dominated. Guard Khaliq Ford averages 20.9 points but Kelvin Tull (11.6 ppg), Roberto Rivera (10.7 ppg) and Terron Mitchell (10.4) also average in double figures.
Wildwood Catholic update: The Crusaders have won 10 straight and have impressive wins over Holy Spirit, Schalick and Archbishop Wood of Philadelphia. Wildwood Catholic is the United Division champion. Forward Jordan Roberston averages 18.5 points and 7.2 rebounds. Forward Eddie McWade averages 15.3 points and 10.3 rebounds.
Who: Sixth-seeded St. Joseph (16-7) vs. third-seeded Atlantic City (16-6)
When/where: 7 tonight at Atlantic City
Radio: 97.3 FM
What's next: Winner advances to the semifinals 5 p.m. Thursday vs. the winner of tonight's quarterfinal between Mainland Regional and St. Augustine Prep.
St. Joseph update: This is the Wildcats' first CAL tournament appearance. They finished second in the United Division. Guard Charlie Riccardi averages 16.4 points and has made 49 3-pointers. Forward Ben Mitchell averages 13.3 points and seven rebounds.
Atlantic City update: The Vikings are the two-time defending CAL and state Group IV champion. They come into tonight, however, on a two-game losing streak after losing to Holy Spirit and Paul VI. Isiah Graves is one of the top guards in South Jersey. Sophomore guard Lamar Thomas has developed into a reliable scorer and outside shooter in recent games. Atlantic City relies on a physical man-to-man defense. The Vikings are 16-1 when they hold a team to less than 60 points.
Who: Seventh-seeded Mainland Regional (14-9) vs. second-seeded St. Augustine Prep (20-3)
When/where: 6 tonight at St. Augustine
What's next: Winner advances to the semifinals 5 p.m. Thursday at Hammonton against the winner of tonight's quarterfinal between St. Joe and Atlantic City.
Mainland Regional update: The Mustangs earned enough power points to be the top seed in the South Jersey Group III playoffs. Mainland owns an impressive nonleague win over Cherry Hill West. Six of Mainland's losses are to Millville, Holy Spirit and Atlantic City. Mainland is strong inside with 6-foot-5 Darius Jerkins (17.3 ppg and 11.4 rebounds per game).
St. Augustine update: The Hermits are the National Division champions. They have lost in the CAL tournament semifinals the past two seasons. It will be interesting to see how St. Augustine responds after a 66-57 upset loss to Millville on Friday. The Hermits are young but talented. Sophomore point guard Sa'eed Nelson averages 11.5 points. Sophomore forward Mike Vasturia averages 10.8 points. Hermits seniors Brian Seward, Nate Segal and Kevin Kennedy have consistently sank clutch shots all season.
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