ABSECON – First, the Pleasantville High School boys basketball team celebrated Sunday night.
Then, the Greyhounds played their most impressive quarter of the season.
Pleasantville dominated the final eight minutes and beat Holy Spirit 87-65 in the finale to the Seagull Classic at Spirit. The Greyhounds began the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run and outscored Spirit 34-17 in the period.
The quarter came after Pleasantville senior guards Sahmir Jones and Jalen Freeman each scored their 1,000th career point in the third quarter.
“It was a big night for our whole team, our whole community,” Jones said.
Jones finished with 21 points and eight rebounds. Freeman scored 22 points. Pleasantville’s 6-foot-7 sophomore Elijah Jones came off the bench to sink 7 of 7 shots and score 15 points. The victory ended Pleasantville’s two-game losing streak.
“We were trying to get the 1,000 points out of the way,” Freeman said. “Once that happened, we flipped the switch.”
The Seagull is one of the most anticipated weekends of the high school basketball season. It was held from 1972-1990 and was one of the nation’s most prestigious high school tournaments.
The South Jersey Basketball Summit Organization, a group of people dedicated to improving the game, revived the Seagull last year to benefit the organization’s scholarships, which it gives to South Jersey basketball players.
Fans packed Spirit’s gym to watch the final game of Classic. Pleasantville (6-3) is No. 10 in The Press Elite 11 ranking, while Spirit (6-3) is off to an impressive start.
Jones, who also played at Mainland Regional, entered the game needing nine points for 1,000. Freeman, who also played at Wildwood Catholic and Middle Township, needed 16.
Both hit the milestone when they sank foul shots in the third quarter. On each occasion, the game was stopped and the parents of Jones and Freeman came out of the stands to pose for pictures with their sons.
“It’s exciting,” Freeman said. “Since freshman year, I’ve been thinking about it.”
Holy Spirit stayed close for three quarters behind accurate perimeter shooting. Santino Georgio sank 4 of 9 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 14 points. Jack Cella energized the Spartans off the bench with 11 points and five rebounds.
Pleasantville led 53-48 as the fourth quarter began. The Greyhounds pressure defense than got to the Spartans.
Pleasantville began the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run. Jacob Valeus (15 points) sank a 3-pointer and a high-flying dunk during the run, which gave Pleasantville a 63-48 lead with 6 minutes, 32 seconds left in the game. The Greyhounds lead never again dipped below double digits.
Pleasantville needed Sunday’s win. The Greyhounds were coming off back-to-back losses to St. Mary’s of Elizabeth and St. Augustine Prep. Pleasantville lost Wildwood Catholic earlier in the season. Those three teams have a combined record of 22-3, but Pleasantville isn’t interested in losing to good teams.
“Our team never really got down,” Jones said. “We know what we’re capable of. We knew there was going to be a big crowd here. We just needed to come out and perform for our city.”
Pleasantville 20 16 17 34 – 87
Holy Spirit 14 21 13 17 – 65
PV – Freeman 22, Valeus 15, Jones 21, Growalt 2, Rosado 7, McFadden 3, Crawford 2, Jones 15
HS – Gerena 7, Georgio 14, Kalinowski 9, LaMonaca 12, Glenn 6, Cella 11