Battle by the Bay was started by Donnie Marsh, an associate head coach at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Banks said, as a way for Atlantic City to prepare for postseason play. The tradition continues, but the event also raises money for a scholarship program.

Over $100,000.00 in scholarship money were given to Atlantic City High School students. Banks works with others on the committee to secure corporate sponsorships, rooms for teams traveling far distances and food.


The epicenter of New Jersey and East Coast high school boys basketball shifts to Atlantic County this weekend. Two area basketball extravaganzas will showcase most of the state's top teams as well as traditional powers from New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The first-ever Atlantic City High School Invitational, also dubbed The Battle by the Bay, will be Saturday and Sunday at the new school's impressive 2,700-seat gym. The third annual Atlantic-Cape Classic will take place on the same days at St. Augustine Prep in Richland. Neither event is a tournament. Their formats call for participating schools to play one or two games over the weekend. The Battle by the Bay builds to Sunday night's Atlantic City vs. Pleasantville contest, the most highly anticipated game of the season. Pleasantville, which starts four juniors and a sophomore, is undefeated, while Atlantic City (16-2) has won 14 straight and has not been defeated in New Jersey. Both schools also will face formidable opponents Saturday. Pleasantville will meet 16-2 Elizabeth (Union County), while Atlantic City plays Simon Gratz (21-2) of Philadelphia. In all, the Battle by the Bay features 11 teams - seven from New Jersey.

"We wanted to make sure we highlighted the strength of New Jersey baketball," said Donnie Marsh, the director of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities for the Atlantic City school system. "Fans can get a chance to see teams that local teams may meet in the state tournament." The Atlantic-Cape Classic's field includes 13 schools and three of New Jersey's most prestigious teams in St. Anthony of Jersey City (Hudson County), St. Patrick's of Elizabeth (Union County) and Christian Brothers Academy (Monmouth County).

Are you ready for some basketball? As we get ready for the 20th annual Battle by the Bay season, Wilbur Banks - better known as Tinker around Atlantic City High School - will be standing in the corner checking out the event.

Banks, recreation director for the city of Atlantic City, started putting together this year's Battle by the Bay last June. He scoured information on teams locally and around the region to find some of the best to compete in the three-day invitational.

"This is not a 'me' operation," said Banks, chairman of the Battle by the Bay committee. "We all work on this together. This is what you see after everyone's hard work."

"Everyone plays an intricate part," Banks said. "I delegate and try to get everyone to do their job. We have a good working nucleus here."

The event features nine games with various teams vs. Atlantic City in boys basketball. The Pleasantville-Atlantic City game has become a tradition and is usually packed to capacity with fans.

"We bring in teams the community can relate to," Banks said. "We bring in local teams. We like to keep it simple."

All three are ranked in the top 10 of the New Jersey High School Top 20 Poll. The classic also has four local teams. St. Augustine Prep will play Abington Friends of Pennsylvania Saturday and The Hun School (Mercer County) Sunday. Middle Township meets St. Anthony Sunday, while Hammonton and Holy Spirit square off against each other Saturday. The classic is sponsored by Rich Marcucci, director of the Atlantic-Cape Basketball Camps in Williamstown. Nearly all of the classic's teams participate in the camp's summer and fall programs. "These are teams that have been loyal to us, and we have a relationship with," Marcucci said. "We feel the teams and matchups we have will interest local fans and attract attention on a national level." Each event also features elite teams from outside of New Jersey. The Atlantic-Cape Classic has Paul Robeson of Brooklyn and three of Maryland's top schools in Laurel Baptist Academy of Laurel, National Christian Academy of Fort Washington and Baltimore Southern.

In addition to Simon Gratz, The Battle by the Bay's field includes traditional Philadelphia power Penn Charter. Two New York schools, Rice and Nazareth, also will play at Atlantic City. Rice counts among its alumni St. John's University freshman Felipe Lopez, who was the high school player of the year last season. "I wanted to get traditional basketball powers that the average fan would recognize," Marsh said. There will be no shortage of talent at either place. Several players have already committed to Division I colleges. One of the weekend's most intriguing matchups occurs 5:30 p.m. Sunday at St. Augustine when two of the nation's best backcourt players meet. Shaheen Holloway, considered the country's top junior guard, leads St. Patrick's against Laurel Baptist, which features senior standout Louis Bullock, who will attend the University of Michigan. Copyright (c) 1995 The Press of Atlantic City