Shawnee tips Atlantic City with late rally
Plagued by turnovers, the Renegades turned to a slower pace to win in a comeback, 50-49.
OCEAN CITY - Shawnee's game is floor balance, tempo control, and protection of the basketball.
Two out of three wasn't bad for the Renegades in a ragged battle with South Jersey Group 4 rival Atlantic City Sunday in the Ocean City PBA Tipoff Tournament.
Shawnee never got a handle on its turnover problems, but the Renegades slowed the pace, worked for open shots, and rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit for a 50-49 victory.
"It was a sloppy game," said Shawnee senior guard Don DiVirgilio, who had eight of his 10 points and both of his assists in the second half. "Once we calmed down and started moving the ball, we got some easy shots."
Junior guard Josh Borelli scored 20, and junior forward Jake Dean added 10 points and nine rebounds for Shawnee (2-0), the No. 6 team in The Inquirer Top 10.
Senior guard Kashawn Dunston scored 16 for No. 7 Atlantic City (1-1).
"Give them all the credit," Atlantic City coach Gene Allen said of Shawnee. "They hung in there against our pressure and made some adjustments in the second half."
Atlantic City played without two projected starters, as 6-foot-8 junior forward Jahleem Montague is recovering from a knee injury and another player was ineligible because he was ejected from Friday night's opener at Millville.
The Vikings also are expected to get a lift in January from Atlantic Christian transfer Gabriel Chandler, who has to sit out the season's first 30 days under NJSIAA rules.
"It's not a sprint," Allen said of the season.
Shawnee missed 10 of its first 11 shots. The Renegades also struggled against Atlantic City's pressure defense, committing 14 first-half turnovers in falling behind by as much as 27-13.
"We missed seven layups in the first half," Shawnee coach Joe Kessler said. "We just needed to calm down a little."
DiVirgilio led a third-quarter rally with six points. The Renegades finally took the lead at 39-37 when Dean scored off a feed from DiVirgilio with 4 minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the game.
The 6-0 Dean, a lacrosse star who has committed to play that sport for defending national champion Virginia, used his strength and aggressiveness to battle taller players in the paint. He scored eight of his points in the second half and also had a big block late in the game that brought Shawnee's bench players to their feet in celebration.
"I was just trying to work hard and use my strength, push them around a little bit," Dean said.
Dean's layup off a feed from Ryan Bodnar gave Shawnee a 45-41 lead with 1:30 on the clock. The Renegades committed three more turnovers down the stretch, bringing their game total to 25, but survived as DiVirgilio grabbed a huge offensive rebound with 40 seconds left, and Borelli went 4 for 4 from the line after that.
"I keep forgetting that even though we have some experience, we have some key players in new roles," Kessler said. "The kids played hard. We're going to get better."
Shawnee 5 13 13 19 – 50
Atlantic City 12 15 6 16 – 49
S: Don DiVirgilio 10, Josh Borelli 20, Ryan Bodnar 3, Jake Dean 10, Frank Destito 2, Mike Reagan 2, Tristan Polnitz 3.
AC: Kashawn Dunston 16, Dayshawn Reynolds 3, Martel Johnson 11, Matt Monroe 4, Dennis White 5, Quashaun Dorn 2, Isaiah Graves 4, Ahmad McKinley 4.