Atlantic City's Christopher Finks (4) drives towards the basket against Lower Cape May in the basketball game played at Atlantic City High School in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Tuesday, January 2, 2024. Lukas Guerrier/D2 Sports Network
ATLANTIC CITY - Second-year Atlantic City High School boys' basketball coach Wayne Nelson had an entire summer to prepare his team.
It was a luxury that didn't exist in his first season at the helm.
The former Cedar Creek and Winslow head coach experienced the challenges of a first-year coach at a new program. The team was only able to play together in a fall league and Nelson didn't get to know his players until tryouts in late November.
The Vikings lost six out of their first eight games in Nelson's first season. They responded with victories in eight out of their next nine contests highlighted by a six-game win streak. Atlantic City reached the Cape-Atlantic League Tournament quarterfinals and qualified for the South Jersey Group 4 playoffs. The Vikings finished with a 13-13 record.
A strong finish laid the foundation for the upcoming season.
The offseason allowed Atlantic City to compete in summer tournaments and a fall league. Members of the program also dedicated their time to the weight room and conditioned. Nelson knew which players he could count on.
The Vikings defeated Lower Cape May, 59-43, in a CAL showdown on Tuesday night. Atlantic City improved its record to 7-1.
It's the program's best start through eight games since 2017-18.