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High School Basketball:
Eastern Rallies Late To Defeat Cougars

Thursday, February 7, 2002

By Vincent Lewis
SJSports Staff Writer

At the end of the month, schools that qualified for the South Jersey group playoffs will begin their quest to capture the title. For those teams, the remainder of their schedule is used to either polish their skills in preparation for the playoffs or capture the divisional title. Neither was true for Cherry Hill East hosting Eastern. Cherry Hill East would not be able to capture the divisional title from Eastern (17-1, 9-0) but the Cougars would get into the South Jersey Group IV playoffs. In this game, East would lead for most of the way until the Vikings came alive late in the fourth quarter to post a 58-55 win.

Not too many people even gave the Cougars from Cherry Hill East a slim chance against Eastern. With the Vikings still undefeated in the American Division of the Olympic Conference, Cherry Hill East have only been able to defeat Washington Township for their only divisional win. Outside of their division, the Cougars have an impressive 9-4 record good enough to qualify them for the South Jersey Group 4 boy's basketball tournament. Eastern on the other hand is seeded #1 earning a bye in the first round.

As scripted, Eastern began with the outside shooting of Dominick Mejia and Lance Evans. The Vikings were able to hold East to only five first quarter points and led by seven to start the second quarter. East began to apply a very aggressive and scrappy defense to take the lead at the half. Roberto West and Andrew Ruder make key baskets along with the rest of their teammates to lead by one. Their efforts would be rewarded even further as the Cougars lead by as much as 10 points over Eastern in the second half.

Eastern late in this game overcame their deficit to go ahead by 3 points with little time remaining in the game. Roberto West's three-point attempt to send this game into overtime just missed to give Eastern the win. Lance Evans had a game high 20 points and Dominick Mejia added 19 points for the Vikings from Eastern. Cherry Hill East was led by Roberto West's team high 14 points and Dan Butler added 10 points.

Photos by Forrest Robleto

©2002 South Jersey Sports Online Inc.