By Phil Anastasia
Paul Collins said his undefeated Burlington City basketball team needed a challenge.
The Blue Devils found it in the most unlikely of locations: In a tiny gymnasium in the shadow of the Burlington-Bristol bridge.
"We needed something like this," Collins said after Burlington City emerged with a 57-46 victory over host Doane Academy in an intense, foul-filled game before a capacity-plus crowd on Monday night. "The crowd, the atmosphere, that was a first for this team."
Junior guard Derrick Wright scored 21 and junior forward Jelani Glaze added 11 with seven rebounds for Burlington City (8-0).
Senior center Carl Lane, a 6-6 transfer from Rancocas Valley, collected 10 points and 16 rebounds for Doane Academy (6-1).
This was more than just a game for Doane Academy, the tiny school on the banks of the Delaware River.
This was an event.
School officials had to lock the gymnasium doors before the tip-off to the "biggest game in school history," according to Spartans coach Dan Williamson.
Doane Academy has some history, too, since the school was founded in 1837 and once educated two sons of Civil War general and future U.S. President Ulyssses S. Grant.
But when it comes to South Jersey basketball, Doane Academy is a newcomer to the scene as this is just the Spartans' second season as an NJSIAA program.
"We're a modern-day 'Hoosiers,'" Williamson said of the school with an enrollment of around 200 in grades kindergarten through 12.
Doane's 6-0 start included a 78-64 victory over Burlington Township, a Group 3 program with a 6-2 record. But the Spartans struggled get into their offensive sets against the Blue Devils' man-to-man defense.
"We can play man-to-man fullcourt and we're deep," Collins said. "They (Doane) don't see that."
Doane rallied in the second half despite the absence of leading scorer Davis Graham, a senior who fouled out with three minutes, 35 second remaining in the third quarter.
The Spartans were just 10-for-20 from the foul line in the third quarter and just 18-for-35 for the game.
"We wanted to prove we were the best team in the county," Williamson said. "But these kids won't crumble from this. We'll get better."
Burlington City 12 19 12 14 -- 57
Doane Academy 6 10 16 14 -- 46
BC: Jelani Glaze 11, Josh Young 7, Derrick Wright 21, Clarence Freeman 3, Wade Singletary 7, Nick Ford 2, Lamar Hilton 6.
DA: Idris Ali 12, Tyler Carrington 7, Davis Graham 6, Carl Lane 10, Chris Scott 11.
Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.