By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City and Pleasantville football teams have been squaring off for 100 years in one of the oldest rivalries in South Jersey, and when the boys take it to the hardwood it gets pretty intense, too.
Pleasantville held off several late runs by host Ocean City and survived to win, 71-65, in the final game of this year’s season-opening Ocean City PBA Tipoff Weekend event. The event, in its 20th year, features five games Saturday and five Sunday on the season’s first weekend, with the Jack Boyd Memorial Doubleheader capping the festivities. The Ocean City girls cruised past ACIT, 47-27, in the first half of the doubleheader featuring the Red Raiders.
Ocean City trailed by double digits throughout most of the game, but clawed their way back in the fourth quarter, shaving the lead down to 57-54 on a huge 3-pointer from Tom Jamison. But, just as quickly, the Greyhounds (1-0) extended the lead back to 10 points on a couple of free throws from Divine Anderson and a putback by Jacob Valeus. Still, the Red Raiders refused to go away, and got within 64-60 on another bucket by Jamison and within 69-65 before Pleasantville was able to ice the game with a big blocked shot by Sahmir Jones with eight seconds left.
“It wasn’t easy, but we fought through it as a team. We have a good bench, and Sahmir Jones (19 points) really helped us out. It was crazy in here. We’re young, but we’re going to fight through it throughout the season,” said Valeus, a 6-foot-5 junior forward who finished with 14 points, 17 rebounds and two blocked shots. “Every time we come into Ocean City it’s a fight, so I expected that from them.”
Pleasantville relied on the driving ability of Anderson throughout the game, as the senior guard finished with a game-high 25 points to go along with three assists and five steals.
“When they were making a run, I knew I had to take over and slow the game down so we could keep our poise,” Anderson said. “We were turning the ball over too much. Basketball is a game of runs. We knew they were going to make some runs, we just had to keep control of the game.”
“Divine is a tremendous player. He’s never afraid (to take it to the rim),” added Valeus.
The Greyhounds jumped out to an early 26-13 lead, but Ocean City (0-2) closed the gap to 34-27 before heading into halftime trailing 41-30. Pleasantville entered the fourth quarter with a 12-point lead, but the Red Raiders went on an 8-2 run to pull to within 57-54. They forced 19 turnovers and got a big game from Jamison, who finished with 18 points, and also Joey Sacco and Donovan Graham, who combined for 29.
Pleasantville can feel good about getting its first win of the season, but the players said they certainly have to work on limiting turnovers and having better possessions late in games.
“We have to work on our defense and staying poised. We’ll be back at it at practice tomorrow,” Valeus said.
“We just have to stay together and keep working hard, and keep improving every game,” Anderson added. “We have to limit turnovers and crash the boards, because they had a lot of offensive rebounds. We just have to play good defense and we’ll be alright.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays