By Lesley Graham
The rivalry between Ocean City and Mainland did not disappoint on Tuesday night in front of a packed crowd for the boys’ basketball game.
The Red Raiders came out on top, routing the Mustangs 58-48. Joey Sacco led all scorers with 21 points on the evening.
The starting five for Ocean City included Sacco, Mike Rhodes, Gannon Brady, Luke Varallo and Donovan Graham, who combined for 47 points.
Ian Aungst came off the bench for the Red Raiders to contribute 11 points, hitting three three’s in the victory.
In a game that saw constant back and forth action, Ocean City was able to pull away in the fourth quarter.
The Red Raiders took an early 5-0 lead before Mainland got on the board. The first quarter was a back and forth affair, with both teams trading buckets and fouls before Mainland hit a half-court shot as time expired to take a 14-11 lead going into the second quarter.
As the second quarter got underway, Ocean City was struggling to get shots to drop. There were opportunities and open looks, but the Red Raiders weren’t getting help from the rim.
Halfway through the second half, though, momentum shifted in favor of the Red Raiders and they took a six-point lead at the half, 30-24.
As the teams took to the court to start the second half, both the Red Raiders and the Mustangs made some defensive improvements that kept both teams scoreless for the first two minutes.
Mainland was able to climb back into the game, taking a two-point lead with under 4 minutes to go in the third quarter.
But momentum again swung in Ocean City’s favor with two big steals and a beautiful no-look pass from Brady to Sacco for an easy layup. Ocean City had a 43-37 lead with one quarter to play and never looked back.
Ocean City built an 11-point lead, forcing Mainland to call a timeout with under five minutes to play.
But Ocean City continued its quick ball movement and suffocating defense late in the game, forcing Mainland to start fouling to force free throws from the Red Raiders in hopes they would miss.
The team remained calm, stuck to the game plan and made clutch free throws down the stretch, keeping their lead comfortable until the very end for the win.