Nick Cartwright-Atkins told Scottie Lewis that if he had the chance to, he was going to try and put the Ranney School senior on a poster.
Cartwright-Atkins got his chance.
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The Moorestown senior then got up, shrugged and smiled.
“I caught the ball, I teed-up, I was rising up and I see him flying over the other side," Cartwright-Atkins said. "I was like ‘Oh no, I’m just gonna try.’ [Lewis] blocks it. I was like ‘That’s fair.’ I’m going to tell my kids I tried.”
Minutes later, the final whistle blew for the team, falling 62-40 to top-seeded Ranney School (30-3) on Friday in the Tournament of Champions semifinal at the RWJ Barnabas Arena on the campus of Toms River North High School.
You could say that Cartwright-Atkins’ antics were maybe out of line, laughing while losing in a state semifinal game.
That just means you don’t truly know the persona of the Moorestown Quakers.
Even down by 15 points in the third quarter, the Moorestown players were playing their hearts out.
Cartwright-Atkins jumped over the Quaker bench for a loose ball, came back and hit a jumper to lift the team off its seats and give the supporting crowd something to admire.
“That just shows how we are like abandoned misfits,” the senior said. “We’re a team full of players that play different sports. We’re a multi-sport team… a lot of teams we play, play all-year round. It’s a testamate to our hard work, grit and our work ethic. I just love it.”
And, if you think that the historical season Moorestown put together throughout the month of March was tainted due to the loss to the top-ranked team in the state and No.10 in the country in MaxPreps' Xcellent 25 rankings, you’d be wrong too.
“This was one Cinderella Story of a team,” said senior Akhil Giri. “I wouldn’t want to go through this with anybody else. I mean, these guys are my brothers. We got [Jagger Zrada] who had an unbelievable season. We got Nick [Cartwright-Atkins], Brian [McMonagle]. Everybody had a great year. Everyone contributed to this. We don’t have any regrets this year. This is all we could ask for.”
Moorestown (28-6) won its first sectional title since 1998 with a win over Mainland on March 5.
Five days later, the Quakers defeated Ramapo on March 10 in the Group 3 championship to win its first state title since 1959, when the Quakers went undefeated back-to-back.
“You go out against a team like that, you can’t hate on it,” said Zrada, who finished with six points and two steals. “We came into this game amped-up to play these guys. We really had nothing to lose, to come out here, hold our heads up, play as we could and play our best. At the end of the day, we obviously try to win, but we knew we had an amazing run and were happy to be here, just playing hard like it was any other game.”
For coach Shawn Anstey, this team is one that will set an example for teams to come.
“I told these guys, I said ‘In 50 years, if we don’t have anything else up there, you guys can come back,’” Anstey said. “And, if I’m still coaching at 90, they can come back and talk to these guys.”
Moorestown 13 1 9 17 - 40
Ranney 10 11 21 20 - 62
M: Jagger Zrada 6, Nick Cartwright-Atkins 5, Vinnie Caprarola 12, Evan Francisco 3, Akhil Giri 6, Shane Knoblach 2, Tommy Londres 3, Hayden Greer 3.