Cherry Hill East wins double-overtime in semi finals over Egg Harbor Township 57-55.


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The East Cougars win the East vs. Egg Harbor Township basketball game.

The No. 4 Cherry Hill East Cougars have advanced to the NJSIAA Group 4 South Jersey Finals for the first time since they won it in 2015. That year, the Cougars made it all the way to the Group 4 New Jersey state championship, and this Cougars team has similar aspirations. An impressive win over this year’s Cinderella story, No. 16 Egg Harbor Eagles, adds another win to their resumé.

The Eagles entered a sea of red at the Dibart gym on Saturday afternoon hot off of two impressive victories over No. 1 Toms River North and No. 9 Williamstown. Both teams lack any mammoth size in their lineups, but make up for it with prolific shooting and a prideful intensity about them. The Cougars came into the game with two terrific showings so far in the tournament, but Egg Harbor proved to be their hardest test yet this season.

Sophomores Drew Greene (‘22) and Jake Green (‘22) continued their fine form with 21 and 14 points respectively to lead a spread East scoring attack. Lots of players got involved throughout the game, and even the rumbling student section helped sway the outcome in East’s favor late.

The game began with the traditional East chess match. Each team entered the game with general knowledge of the schemes their opponent would run, but Coach Dave Allen came out with an all-small lineup that included no players over 6’ feet tall. Even with a slight size disadvantage, East was able to capitalize off of Jake Green’s hot hand, setting multiple screens to get him clean looks from deep. Shooting from outside outmatched the bully-ball Egg Harbor tried to play in the first quarter, giving the Cougars a 13-11 lead.

The second quarter saw much of the same. As the Cougar-crowd started to get more and more into the game, though, it seemed like Egg Harbor tried to keep them out of it. The Eagles started hitting shots from outside once East brought in Ben Adler (‘20) and Jarren Andrade (‘20), making East’s bigger men chase guards around the perimeter. East exploited matchups of their own, able to attack the basket with speed and agility. The Eagles took a 21-17 lead into the half.

The second half began with a flurry of scores for East. The Cougars got several baskets on the board before the Eagles could find any rhythm. An E.J. Matthews-Spratley (‘22) three with five minutes remaining in the third put the Cougars up 24-21. The buckets would go back and forth from there as senior Ryan Greene (‘20) started to facilitate the Cougars offense nicely, but the defense remained unable to stop Egg Harbor. East took a 35-31 lead into the fourth.

This is where the game got fun. The fourth quarter saw a back-and-forth pattern of stops and scores stay true for the entirety. The gym quaked late, though, when an East lead forced Egg Harbor into fouling and the Cougars kept hitting their free throws. The Eagles started getting momentum late, and sophomore Carlos Lopez (‘22) provided a spark for his squad. East couldn’t hold on to the slight advantage and the game remained tied at 48 heading into overtime.

However, it didn’t stop there. The first four-minute period had a combined eight points between the two teams. The Eagles got on the board, going ½ at the line, but an East basket pulled the momentum back. This was until Egg Harbor hit a deep three and the Cougars responded with a basket of their own. The game remained tied at 52 heading into the final frame.

The most entertaining basketball game of the year for East took place here. No, they weren’t perfect, but the nail-biting anxiety infested the gym, making the win that much better. The Cougars played solid enough defense to hold the Eagles to three points in the period while scoring five of their own. Egg Harbor refused to foul late, so a Jake Green layup through contact proved to be the deciding score as East won 57-55 in this thriller.

The Cougars take on Atlantic City in A.C. on Tuesday night for the Group 4 South Jersey championship. The Cougars made it this far when not many expected this young team to… so why stop now?