By GIUSEPPE UNGARO
LINWOOD — It took a little while for Mainland senior Brandon Savitch to find his shot Thursday night, but when he did there was no stopping him — or his team — in the South Jersey Group 3 quarterfinals.
The Mustangs’ sharpshooter scored 13 points in the third quarter alone and finished with a game-high 27 as No. 4 Mainland knocked off No. 5 Delsea, 64-52.
Mainland (21-6) hosts No. 8 Winslow on Saturday at 6 p.m. in the sectional semifinals. Eighth-seeded Winslow upset No. 1 Central Regional, 54-45, on Thursday.
If Mainland wins the Mustangs also will host the title game, as No. 10 Timber Creek upset No. 2 Highland and No. 6 Triton upended No. 3 Ocean City in the other quarterfinal games.
“I knew I had to do something for my team in any aspect of the game, and it ended up being shooting,” Savitch said. “I couldn’t be more proud of my guys, they really gave it their all, played with such heart, effort and hustle. It really was agreat team win. It’s the playoffs, and it’s win or go home. We don’t want to go home. This is a great team and we stepped up. I truly believe we deserved the win.”
Savitch had a huge third quarter, but he kept the Mustangs in the game in the second quarter with center Osun Osunniyi on the bench in foul trouble.
After missing four of his first five shots to start the game, Savitch hit from the baseline with 4:54 left in the half to give Mainland a 17-15 lead. He also nailed a three-pointer to tie the game at 20. Teammate John Mairone hit from beyond the arc at the end of the half to make it a 23-23 game.
Delsea opened the second half with two straight buckets for a four-point lead, but Mainland answered with a 7-0 run with a Savitch 3-pointer sandwiched by a Sahmir Jones’ drive and a Osunniyi putback.
After Delsea tied the game at 30, Savitch was almost a one-man show on offense. Mainland closed the third quarter with a 13-3 spurt, with Savitch scoring 10 of those points. He was 5-for-6 in the third quarter, including three from long distance.
“Brandon was phenomenal. Every glowing superlative I can say, I say about him,” Mainland coach Dan Williams said. “I couldn’t be happier for him. I’ve followed him since he wasin the seventh grade, he always played with fire and passion. He is just short of cocky, with a ton of confidence. For it to come out in this stage, at this moment, getting us to the semifinals, in a situation we were hurting without Osun — you couldn’t have scripted it.”
“I was definitely feeling it. I wouldn’t have taken those shots of I was cold,” Savitch said.
Savitch and Jack Bergman both scored six apiece in the fourth quarter, and Osunniyi shook off his foul trouble to finish with 12 points, including three big dunks.
Contact Giuseppe Ungaro: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDgisepu
By GIUSEPPE UNGARO