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Mike McGinley scores career-high 36 as Delsea dominates Hammonton in South Jersey Group 3 opener


Delsea's Mike McGinley (3) prepares to shoot a free throw against Hammonton in the first round of the South Jersey Group 3 boys' basketball playoffs at Delsea Regional High School in Franklinville, New Jersey on Thursday, February 22, 2024. Zach Maxwell for D2 Sports Network


FRANKLINVILLE - In his three seasons of varsity basketball experience, Rider baseball commit Mike McGinley had never eclipsed the 20-point mark in a single game.


That changed when McGinley poured in a career-high 36 points as eighth-seeded Delsea rolled ninth-seeded Hammonton, 83-64, in the first round of the South Jersey Group 3 playoffs on Thursday night.

"I don't think I've ever scored that many points in a game ever," McGinley said. "I have to thank my teammates. They helped set up open looks and I just kept knocking down shots.


"Maybe they'll recruit me for basketball, too, at Rider," McGinley joked.


Hammonton scored the first basket of the game before the Crusaders went on a 20-0 run over the next seven minutes. Delsea ended the quarter on a 5-0 spurt to build a 25-4 lead.


The Blue Devils rallied to cut the deficit to single digits in the second quarter, but the slow start hindered them for the remainder of the contest.


McGinley tallied 11 of the Crusaders' 22 points in the fourth quarter.


Three other players posted double figures for Delsea. Luke Van Auken recorded 14 points and 15 rebounds. Chase Ambrosious added 10 points including a trio of 3-pointers and Max Van Auken posted an 18-point, 11-assist double double in the victory.


Football standout Kenny Smith led Hammonton with a team-high 19 points. Junior Jake Edwards added 16 points. He knocked down four 3-pointers in the loss.


A 30-6 deficit in the first half was a steep hill to climb for the Blue Devils. It didn't help that early shots weren't falling either.


"I think we had some great open looks early," Hammonton coach Joe Martino said. "The shots just didn't fall, it's like there was a lid on the basket for us in the first quarter."


An explosive start was sort of uncharacteristic for Delsea. The Crusaders suffered back-to-back heartbreaking losses earlier in the week, so the dominance from the jump against Hammonton provided reassurance.


"We've had back-to-back last second losses within the past week," Delsea coach Tom Freeman said. "To come out and keep our foot on the gas the whole way showed how the guys have responded to those losses. We needed a win like this to get back on our feet."


Delsea will visit to top-seeded Mainland in the South Jersey Group 3 quarterfinals on Tuesday.


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