By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher LINWOOD — Mainland Regional boys basketball coach Dan Williams said he was sick about having to tell his team on Saturday morning that the Mustangs’ win over Millville on Friday night — a victory that would have given Mainland some solid power points toward a possible state playoff berth — wasn’t a win at all. The Thunderbolts were credited with a 1-0 win, a forfeit, essentially, after it was discovered one of Mainland’s players had exceeded the six-quarter maximum of playing time between the varsity and junior varsity levels. It was basically a coaching clerical error that wiped a win off the books for a team that needs every win it can get. Williams said he wasn’t sure how his team would respond in a Saturday home tilt against Holy Cross. The Mustangs, a senior-laden team, quickly put the disappointment behind them and grinded out a 53-42 win over the Lancers to improve to 4-7 overall. Mainland got 18 points and three 3-pointers apiece from Taylor “El Diablo” Dirkes and Brandon Savitch, and Jake O’Neill — a 6-foot-10 senior center — contributed 15 points and a host of blocked shots. Mainland Regional's Taylor Dirkes drives in for a layup for two of his 18 points during the Mustangs' win over Holy Cross on Saturday. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O'Sullivan) Mainland Regional’s Taylor Dirkes drives in for a layup for two of his 18 points during the Mustangs’ win over Holy Cross on Saturday. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O’Sullivan) “They were sitting in a 2-3 zone and we have a lot of good shooters on this team, and we were open and knocking some down. We’ve been playing very well this last week. We played Pleasantville tough in a triple-overtime loss. It seems like everything is starting to click together, and we’re looking forward to the rest of the season,” Dirkes said. “Jake has been playing the best I’ve ever seen him play, and that’s great because then we don’t have to rely on just one or two people. Everyone is playing well right now. “We needed those threes, even that one at the buzzer at the end of the first half, we desperately needed that to get (the lead) up to six and give us a little more breathing room. They usually come from the inside out, so we tell our guards to use Jake and use Dean (Deveney) to get the threes open, instead of the other way around,” Williams said. “We struggled to finish a little bit. When you work and work on the offensive end and don’t finish, sometimes that gets deflating on the other end.” Williams said O’Neill made a huge difference on the defensive end against Holy Cross, not only by getting blocked shots but by altering shots as well. “We might get beat on penetration, and there is no gimme that you’re going to get a shot off, let alone a good-looking shot,” Williams said, “because he is back there. That’s a luxury I’m going to miss next year.” Mainland probably could have beaten the Lancers by 20 points or more, but missed a host of shots inside the paint, and that allowed Holy Cross to hang around until late in the fourth quarter. “It’s frustrating for me, but it’s also frustrating for the players,” Williams said of the multiple missed opportunities. “When you get a time out, it’s 10 seconds before you can even talk to them because they are talking to themselves about how bad they are playing. But it’s great to get a win after the week we had.” Sam Jackson fires off a pass to the corner during the first half of the Mustangs' win over the Lancers. Sam Jackson fires off a pass to the corner during the first half of the Mustangs’ win over the Lancers. Holy Cross trimmed the lead to three points, 38-35, early in the fourth quarter when Ryan McGee sank a pair of free throws, but Savitch hit a pair of free throws and then a short jumper as Mainland extended its lead to 42-35. Dirkes then scored on a layup following a blocked shot by O’Neill as the Mustangs opened up a 10-point lead, 45-35, with about two minutes to go. Mainland then hit 5-of-6 from the free-throw line in the final 1:08 to seal the win. Williams said he takes the blame for the error that cost Mainland a win over Millville on Friday night. “Unfortunately, I made an error in last night’s game. We had to tell the kids that this morning and I knew they were going to be down about that. It was a win over a Group 4 school and some power points went along with that, and it was almost like they played it for nothing. And it was nothing they did, they did everything I asked them to do, I just screwed up and that was tough to take,” Williams said. “But, to their credit, they bounced back. It might not have looked pretty, but they worked their tails off today. And you’re always going to get that when it’s lead by Sam (Jackson) and Dean, you’re always going to get that from this team. “We might not be the most talented and I might get out-coached every night, but those two are going to play as hard as anybody in the gym, and it’s contagious. Taylor, Brandon, Jake, guys like that bring their energy and just sort of gut it out.” Contact Dave O’Sullivan:; on Twitter @GDsullysays [adsense]