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Holy Spirit grinds out big win over Atlantic City in thriller

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher ATLANTIC CITY – At most high school basketball games, if the score is 26-12 at halftime, fans start making their way toward the exit door. Maybe go grab a burger or something, see what’s on television. When Atlantic City plays Holy Spirit, leaving at halftime is a mistake, no matter what the score is. The rivals teams went toe-to-toe on Wednesday night, much like some of the great boxing matches back in the 1980s and 90s in Atlantic City. Holy Spirit completely dominated the second quarter, going on a 17-2 run to take what seemed to be a huge lead into halftime. But the host Vikings kept coming, like a stubborn Arturo Gatti used to do in the ring, taking the opponent’s best punches and staying in the fight. Holy Spirit's Junior Saintel drives on Atlantic City's Kevin Allen during the second half of the Spartans' 61-55 win over the Vikings on Wednesday night in Atlantic City. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O'Sullivan) Holy Spirit’s Junior Saintel drives on Atlantic City’s Kevin Allen during the second half of the Spartans’ 61-55 win over the Vikings on Wednesday night in Atlantic City. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O’Sullivan) In the end, however, even a 28-point fourth quarter by Atlantic City (16-5, 10-2) couldn’t save the Vikings, as the Spartans (17-5, 11-1) held on for a 61-55 win that had both crowds on their feet throughout the final three minutes. “It feels great to finally beat them. We lost to them seven times in a row I think. So it was a huge win for us,” said junior swingman Jordan Taylor. With 3:19 left, Holy Spirit held a 50-40 lead. Thirty seconds later, the lead was just 52-49 after Kevin Allen completed a 4-point play after he was fouled on a 3-pointer. The teams continued to trade scores and with less than 20 seconds to go Atlantic City missed a shot inside and Junior Saintel and Leon Daniels sealed the win by going 4-for-4 from the free-throw line in the waning seconds. Isaiah Graves dribbles upcourt during the fourth quarter. Graves led the Vikings with 16 points. Isaiah Graves dribbles upcourt during the fourth quarter. Graves led the Vikings with 16 points. The win was huge for Holy Spirit, which has played a brutal schedule this season and at times has been inconsistent in big games. But on Wednesday night the Spartans showed how much talent and depth they have, as Taylor came up with 18 points and Matt Sommers chipped in some quality minutes off the bench. Daniels added 18 points, Saintel 10 and John Middleton 11, but the real key for Holy Spirit was its defense, particularly in the second quarter, when it held Atlantic City without a field goal. The Spartans went on a 13-0 run to start the quarter, turning a 10-9 deficit into a 22-10 lead. Taylor was outstanding on defense during that quarter and Saintel came up with several blocked shots as the Spartans forced the Vikings to take shots from the outside. “I knew right from there we were ready to ball. I knew it wasn’t over though. We knew that they are a good team and always come back, so we had to keep playing hard,” Taylor said. “We usually don’t play zone, but we felt as though they couldn’t score as well against it.” Isaiah Graves finished with 16 points to lead the Vikings, while Lamar Thomas added 14 and Dennis White chipped in with seven. Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays [adsense]

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