Monday, March 1, 2004
By Jerome Michaels
It was the first day of the South Jersey group playoffs for both the girls and boys basketball team who had qualified for the single game elimination tournament. It was also the first game and last for the Braves from Absegami as they found out quickly how the boy’s basketball team from Cherry Hill East can put a game out of reach. The tandem of Christian Gibson and Brian Young began to connect from behind the three point arc that proved to be too much for the Braves to just settle for the conventional two point basket. The Cougars settling for the three ball, and making them, steadily increased their lead to advance to the next round against Egg Harbor Township. Cherry Hill East ended Absegami’s season with their 98-54 first round victory.
The Cougars were seeded in the fourth position in the South Jersey Group 4 bracket but playing as they were the top seed. By defeating the 13th seeded Braves, they will now have the luxury of hosting their second consecutive game. That’s something that the loud and supporting Cherry Hill East fans would enjoy. East has now won 4 of their last very tough 6 games, and that may help them shoot their way past the top seeded Indians from Lenape.
For a very brief moment, Absegami led in this game during the early minutes. Cherry Hill East would tie the game and then hold a slim 10-7 lead with 3:37 showing on the first quarter game clock. That’s when the Cougars went on a 9-2 run that saw Gibson connect on back-to-back threes. Holding a 24-14 lead at the end of the first quarter, Young scored 10 of the 27 points second quarter points and a total of 20 points when the half ended. Gibson’s points all came from behind the arc during the first half accounting for 21 points at the break.
The second half was about the same as East outscored Absegami 47-28 and easily cruised to the victory. This would be a much better story than last year when the Cougars, seeded 12th, were knocked out of the tournament during the first round against Rancocas Valley. Brian Young led all scorers with 31 points, Christian Gibson added 25 points and Jeremy Kaminer finished with 14 points for Cherry Hill East. Absegami got a team high 19 points from Randy Dean and Manny Valentin added 13 points.
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