A Championship Season for Ocean City’s Girls’ Basketball Team

by Marc Narducci; Photo courtesy of Ocean City Basketball | Mar 31, 2020
A Championship Season for Ocean City’s Girls’ Basketball Team

When Ocean City’s girls’ basketball team got off to a 1-5 start this season, veteran coach Paul Baruffi didn’t panic. And for good reason.

The losses were all to quality Group 4 programs – Rancocas Valley, Washington Township, Cherokee, Kingsway and Lenape.

“It was a pretty rough start,” Baruffi said. “We knew we might not win the games but thought it would help us later in the year.”

That’s exactly what happened.

The Red Raiders then went on a 15-game winning streak and it set the tone for a championship season.

Ocean City be rival and defending state champion Mainland, 32-29 to win the South Jersey Group 3 championship.

The Red Raiders then beat Westampton Tech, 50-38 in the state Group 3 semifinal in an empty gymnasium due to the coronavirus outbreak. After that win, the NJSIAA then canceled the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

So the Red Raiders went as far as they possibly could during a 23-8 season.

Few girls’ basketball rivalries top that of Ocean City against Cape Atlantic foe Mainland and this year proved to be no different.

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The teams met three times this season.

Ocean City won the first meeting, 51-49 on Jan. 26. Mainland then won the rematch at home, 66-44 on Feb. 14.

And then finally came the nail-biting three-point win over the Mustangs in the sectional final.

Ocean City trailed 16-8 at halftime.

“It was low scoring and every possession was important,” Baruffi said. “We only had eight points at halftime, but we were getting good looks and felt if we knocked a few down in the second half we would have a chance.”

That is exactly what happened. The Red Raiders were led by senior guard Abby Fenton, who scored nearly half their points, 15.

“Abby had a great year, hitting big shots all season,” Baruffi said.

She set two school records this season with 83 three-point field goals and seven in one game.

Fenton averaged a team-high 10.4 points.

Senior center Emma Finnegan averaged nearly seven points per game and junior guard Marlee Brestle averaged nearly six points per game.

Yet scoring wasn’t why the Red Raiders won the sectional title. They were among the best defensive teams in South Jersey.

Ocean City would have met Ramapo in the state Group 3 final after the win over Westampton Tech, in which Fenton scored 17 points and senior guard Delaney Lappin added 12.

The NJSIAA hasn’t made a decision, but it would seem a logical decision would be to award both teams co-champions.

No matter how that turns out, it was a memorable year for the Red Raiders, benefited from a difficult schedule and played at their best when it mattered the most.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo courtesy of Ocean City Basketball

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