Basetball: Atlantic City wins Group 4 state title


By Phil Anastasia

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Dayshawn Reynolds says he doesn't have the most unsightly shot on the Atlantic City basketball team.

He believes Isiah Graves holds that title.

"I get on him about it every day," Reynolds said of his backcourt mate.

The Atlantic City guards might not have textbook jumpers.

But the two left-handers have shown the willingness to take and ability to make big shots during the best two-year run in the history of the program.

Reynolds and Graves made critical three-pointers in crunch time on Sunday, carrying Atantic City to a 60-54 overtime victory over Linden in the Group 4 state championship game.

Reynolds' deep jumper with 37 seconds remaining in regulation forced overtime in the pressure-packed game in the Rutgers Athletic Center.

In the extra session, Graves' two three-pointers from the vicinity of cross-town Cook/Douglass campus carried the Vikings to victory.

"Coach yells at me to step in," Graves said of his two jumpers in overtime, both of which probably were from around 30 feet.

Graves finished with 18 points and junior forward Dennis White added 16 as Atlantic City (29-1) became the first South Jersey team to win back-to-back Group 4 state titles since Shawnee in 1995-96.

Atlantic City will enter the Tournament of Champions. The seeds will be set after the Group 1 title game between Points Pleasant Beach and Dayton.

AC could receive the No. 2 seed and earn a bye to Friday night's semifinals.

Linden (22-8) took a 48-45 lead on a three-point play by sophomore guard Josh Carter with 0:47 remaining in regulation.

Just 10 seconds into the ensuing possesion, Reynolds drilled a three-point jumper from around five feet behind the top of the key.

"That's the supreme confidence of a great athlete," Atlantic City coach Gene Allen said of Reynolds.

Reynolds said he was determined to step up and seize the moment for his teammates.

"As a senior leader, I felt like I was the one to take that shot," Reynolds said.

Neither team could convert at the end of the regulation, and Linden took a 50-48 lead on Carter's reverse layup on the first possession of overtime.

Then Graves took over. The junior with the awkward shooting form drilled a three-pointer for a 51-50 lead, then added another one for the 54-50 lead.

Atlantic City closed out the victory as Jah-leem Montague made a pair of free throws, White scored on a feed from Montague, and Djza Chase buried a pair of free throws at the 0:04 mark.

"The tempo of the game was crazy," Graves said of the physical, fast-paced game. "You had fans screaming after every made basket."

Atlantic City has won three state titles under Allen -- in 2005, 2012 and 2013. Many of the players on this year's teams were key members of last year's champions.

"Yes and no," Allen said when asked if his team's experience was a factor. "No when Isiah takes a 30-footer. Yes, when 'Day' (Reynolds) catches and shoots with confidence.

"These kids just don't get flustered. I'll probably never have a group like this again."

Reynolds said folks sometimes criticize him for his shooting form. He said it doesn't bother him.

Besides, he believes Graves' form is worse.

"Somehow, they go down," Reynolds said.

Atlantic City 14 5 14 15 12 -- 60
Linden 11 12 6 19 6 -- 54

L: Terell Bailey 7, Josh Carter 21, Alonzo Hamilton 6, Juwan Dolbrice 5, Juwan Jones 6, Quadri Moore 9.

AC: Isiah Graves 18, Dayshawn Reynolds 8, Dennis White 16, Gabriel Chandler 2, Jah-leem Montague 12, Djza Chase 2, Tashad Reynolds 2.

Contact Phil Anastasia at Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.