Cherry Hill East boys’ basketball defeats Toms River North in the first round of playoffs

Jalen Holmes (22) playing  great offense in the first round of playoffs

Lucas Tang ('23)

Jalen Holmes (’22) playing great offense in the first round of playoffs

Jalen Holmes (‘22) was a force to be reckoned with on Monday afternoon. He tied a career-high with 20 points while also pulling in a career-high 20 rebounds. This was by far the best game he’s played in his entire career.
“We knew Jalen had to play big for us because of their guys inside,” coach Dave Allen said. “He’s been the difference in our team; to be able to elevate us to be competitive against top teams because he’s a 6-4 kid who can score and rebound.”
Holmes’ effort helped East cruise past Toms River North by a score of 73-47 in the first round of the South Jersey Group 4 playoffs.
“I’m glad we got the win, glad my teammates could find me,” Holmes said on the win. “I wasn’t nervous. I was ready to go, I was prepared. I’m always going for a rebound, always giving it my all. I enjoy it because it will help my team win.”
The Cougars jumped out to a hot start with a 19-3 lead midway through the first quarter. Toms River North missed many layups to start while the Cougars couldn’t miss on the other end of the floor.
However, the complexion of the game started to shift in the Mariners’ favor during the second quarter. East was not able to get the same on-ball pressure on the defense as they had in the opening quarter which allowed for easier baskets for the Mariners. By halftime, the score was 33-25.
The Cougars were able to regain all of their momentum in the second half. Holmes’ offensive rebounding gave East many second-chance points in the paint. Additionally, Jake Green (‘22) started to heat up from the three-point line as the Mariners had no answers for the Cougars’ offense. Midway through the fourth quarter, Allen emptied his bench as the Cougars were on their way to their 23rd consecutive win.
All five of the Cougars starters finished in double-figures. E.J. Matthews Spratley (‘22) was the Cougars’ second-leading scorer with 13 points while also adding seven rebounds, three assists, and five steals. Additionally, Drew Greene (‘22) chipped in with 12 points, nine assists, three rebounds, and a steal.
The Cougars will host Eastern on Wednesday at 4:00 in the second round of the playoffs. East won both of their matchups over the Vikings this season and have won six straight against them overall. This game was a promising start to what is expected to be a long playoff run for the Cougars this season.