ABSECON (N.J.) - Lower Cape May Regional High School boys basketball coach Scott Holden reached a roadblock for the first time in his 18-year coaching career on Saturday.
The Caper Tigers trailed to Holy Cross Prep by 22 points with 4:44 left in the third quarter and Holden was unsure how to proceed.
"I was really ticked off," Holden said. "When they took the 22-point lead, for the first time in my career, I was actually literally asking my assistants - I didn't verbally say it - but I was like, 'what do I do.' I was lost."
The Lancers jumped out to a 32-17 lead at halftime and connected on seven three-pointers before the fourth quarter. Latrell Bullock poured in 16 of his team-high 18 points in the first half.
The solution for Holden's group was to amp up the play through its defensive pressure.
Lower Cape May used a 28-6 run to force overtime and eventually outlasted Holy Cross Prep, 52-50, in the Seagull Classic at Holy Spirit on Saturday evening.
"We decided to amp up the play with the press and that changed everything," Holden said.
The Caper Tigers appeared lost without leading scorer Archie Lawlor. The senior was sidelined with a foot injury.
LCM went 0-for-4 from behind the three-point line in the opening half and committed five turnovers.
"I was ticked off with our effort in the first half," Holden said. "I felt like we should have beat this team with or without Archie."
When did Holden realize a come-from-behind triumph was attainable?
"When we cut it two," he said. "When we cut it to two, I was like, 'alright we're no longer in desperation mode, just win the game.' I knew they were playing not to lose."
The second half belonged to Macky Bonner.
The senior scored 15 of his game-high 22 points in the second half as Lower Cape May improved its record to 8-0. Bonner finished 9-for-16 from the field and added seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.
"Big win," Bonner said. "Our guys just showed we had heart and fight. We came out in that third quarter and just cut the deficit, and that's what we needed to do to come back and win."
The senior rose to the occasion when his team desperately needed him. Bonner has been a jack-of-all-trades for the Caper Tigers all season.
He posted a 20-point, 11-assist double double in a statement win over Hammonton in late December.
But nothing has topped his signature performance against Holy Cross on Saturday.
"Macky's been an absolute menace all season," Holden said. "If you don't come and watch him every day, you're just looking at what he scores, you don't understand what the kid's doing for this team right now. It's the leadership, it's the deflections, it's the boxing out, it's the help side defense. It's all the stuff that never gets into a paper. That's exactly what he's doing."
Jacob Bey added 14 points and six rebounds for Lower Cape May. Rutgers football target Braswell Thomas contributed six points, two rebounds, two steals and two assists.
The Caper Tigers took their largest lead of the contest (three points) with 2:51 left in overtime and never looked back.
"They eventually played as a team," Holden said. "With the schedule we had last year and the hard times we had last year, they knew we could get back into games. That helped a lot. They've been through it. It's a very veteran team. There's a little bit of experience there and I think that's the biggest thing that's shown there."