EGG HARBOR CITY - Absegami High School senior guard Justin Rice sank the winning 3-pointer with 21 seconds left in overtime against host Cedar Creek on Friday. Teammates Darryl Loveland and Vlad Shustov added points to make sure it held up.
Absegami pulled out an exciting 52-47 victory in a Cape-Atlantic League inter-division game.
Rice got the ball and had an open look on the right side with his team down 47-46, and he connected on a 3-pointer to give the Braves a two-point lead.
Cedar Creek inbounded the ball, and Loveland picked off the pass and was fouled. He missed two shots but got the rebound and was fouled again with 9 seconds left on the clock. This time Loveland sank the first foul shot to make it 50-47. When the second free throw was off the mark, the 6-foot-9 Shustov made a put-back to clinch it.
"I've been in a slump the last few games, but I hit a few (3-pointers) early and saw the opportunity to knock the shot down," said Rice, a 17-year-old Galloway Township resident. "My teammates put me in position to get the shot, and I was confident."
Absegami, of the CAL American Division, evened its overall record at 7-7. Cedar Creek, of the CAL United Division, is 10-6.
"Overall, it wasn't the best we could have played, and we were kind of antsy," Rice said. " But we played under control in the final few minutes. It was definitely a good win to get to .500.”
Shustov led the Braves with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Jaleel Christmon added 11 points and had a team-high 18 rebounds. Rice had nine points, on a trio of 3-pointers. Loveland scored seven points and had 17 rebounds. Teammate Abdul Anderson had eight points, including two foul shots that were Absegami’s last two points in regulation.
Senior guard Chris Newman topped the Pirates with a career-high 20 points.
“Justin’s shot was in the flow,” Absegami coach Mike Bult said. “When your shot selection is in the flow, rather than forced, the percentage goes up.
“Our team started at 1-4 with a tough early schedule, but the guys kept their heads. We’re playing much more sound now, and I’m proud of where we’re at for the second half of the season. We played well (on Thursday) against Holy Spirit (in a 54-52 loss), but we didn’t get the win. You have to finish. We want to learn something in every game, and tonight we got the win.”
Cedar Creek built a 26-19 halftime lead as Newman scored eight points. But Absegami scored the first six points of the second half, and it was close for the rest of regulation.
Cedar Creek’s Matt Dennis hit the second of two foul shots with 59 seconds left in regulation to tie it at 43-43 and send it into overtime.
The Pirates jumped to a 46-43 lead in the first half-minute of the four-minute extra period. Jacob Knight sank one of two foul shots, and teammate Damon Mitchell stole the ball in the backcourt and hit a baseline drive.
Loveland cut the lead to 46-45 with a field goal. Anderson made 1-of-2 from the stripe for Absegami to tie it. Newman then hit the second of two foul shots with 36 seconds left to give Cedar Creek its last lead at 47-46.
“Chris Newman shot the ball very well. He’s a senior and knows the speed of the game,” Cedar Creek coach Phil Schaffer said.
“I”m proud of our effort against a very good team,” Schaffer added. “We wanted to stay the course and stick with our game plan, and we put ourselves in position to win. ’Gami is a very good rebounding team, and they’re very patient. It’s really tough for them in the American Division.”
Contact Guy Gargan:
Absegami 10 9 13 11 9-52
Cedar Creek 13 13 7 10 4-47
A-Anderson 1 6-8 8, Loveland 3 1-6 7, Christmon 4 3-5 11, Shustov 4 5-5 14, Nelson 1 0-0 3, Rice 3 0-0 9. Totals-16 15-24 52.
CC-Knight 2 4-6 8, C. Newman 7 3-6 20, Graves 3 1-7 7, Mitchell 2 0-0 4, Dennis 1 2-6 5, J. Newman 1 0-0 3. Totals-16 10-25 47.
3-pointers-Rice (3), Shustov, Nelson A. C. Newman (3), Dennis, J. Newman CC.
Records-Absegami 7-7; C.C. 10-6.