ATLANTIC CITY - Tom Catanoso sank 8-of-10 shots Saturday afternoon.
But just as important as his accuracy was the timely nature of his shooting. The point guard seemed to score every time the Middle Township High School boys basketball team needed a basket.
Catanoso scored 22 points to lead the Panthers to a 69-59 win over George Washington of Philadelphia in a Battle by the Bay game at Atlantic City High School.
Catanoso made 3-of-4 3-point attempts. Two of them helped Middle stave off a George Washington rally in the second half.
"I'm comfortable on the (Atlantic City) court," Catanoso said. "We play here a lot more than most people. We play in the summer here. I'm used to it."
The Battle by the Bay is a showcase event that features some of New Jersey's top teams. Middle (14-3) is No. 4 in The Press Elite 11. George Washington (14-8) is one of the top teams in the Philadelphia Public League.
Middle played Saturday for the first time in two weeks with all five starters as forward LaMarr Greer (nine points) returned from a knee injury. Panthers guard Darrell Shelton played Saturday but was slowed by the flu.
The game featured a hectic pace. Middle won despite committing 22 turnovers. George Washington grabbed 18 offensive rebounds. In contrast, Middle had just three offensive rebounds.
"They (George Washington) have a style you don't see," Middle coach Tom Feraco said. "You see disciplined teams in the (Cape-Atlantic League) with coaches that run sets and run sets. This was lower your head and get to the (basket) basketball.
"You take one move away, and they can make a second move. They throw up shots and when you scramble on defense that makes you vulnerable on the boards."
Catanoso's shooting helped the Panthers make sense of the frenzied action.
Middle forwards Tom Feraco (the coach's son) and Michah Moore (14 points, seven rebounds) helped the Panthers build an 11-point, first-half lead.
Feraco (19 points, seven rebounds) contributed four assists, occasionally finding wide-open Panthers cutting the basket for layups.
"They came out in many defenses," Feraco, the player, said. "They're like the fast-paced teams in our league, but they execute it better. Once you break their press, you have to be smart, cut at the right times and sometimes you have men wide open."
George Washington rallied several times in the second half. More often than not it was Catanoso who stopped the Eagles' momentum.
His 3-point shot with 6 minutes, 44 seconds left in the third quarter gave Middle a 38-30 lead.
Catanoso's 3-pointer with 7:32 left in the game stopped a 6-0 George Washington run and gave Middle a 51-43 edge. George Washington never got closer than six points the rest of the way.
Saturday began Middle's tour of New Jersey showcase events this fall. The Panthers will play Camden Catholic at the Olympic-Cape Challenge at St. Augustine Prep on Saturday. The Panthers will meet Gill St. Bernard's at the Primetime Shootout next Sunday at Roselle Catholic (Union County). Middle will conclude its showcase tour with a game against Paul VI at the Cherry Hill East Invitational on Feb. 16.
The Panthers enjoyed the Battle by the Bay.
"From the time your bus pulls in (at Atlantic City High School)," coach Feraco said, "the hospitality and bedside manner they show you from the people that greet you, to the security to the scorer's table, is second to none. And we got a win."
Contact Michael McGarry:
George Washington 12 16 15 16-59
Middle Township 17 15 16 21-69
GW-Allen 0 0-2 0, K. Truitt 6 3-10 15, D. Truitt 7 6-8 20, Ferguson 4 4-8 12, Moses 1 0-0 2, Randall 1 0-0 2, Hunt-Hawklins 1 0-0 3, Williams 1 0-0 2, Marx 1 0-0 3. Totals-22 13-28 59.
MT-Shelton 0 1-7 1, Catanoso 8 2-4 22, Feraco 3 13-15 19, Greer 3 3-3 9, Moore 5 4-9 14, Cowan 2 0-0 4. Totals-21 23-38 69.
3-pointers-Hunt-Hawklins, Marx GW. Catanoso (4) MT.
Records-G.W. 14-8; M.T. 14-3.