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Camden Boys Impressive Early

Camden Boys Impressive Early Camden Boys Basketball Impressive in the Early Going

Sometimes more can be known about a team in a loss than a victory. That was certainly the case over the weekend when Camden’s boys’ basketball team dropped a 50-46 decision to perennial national power St. Anthony of Jersey City.

Once again, St. Anthony is ranked No. 1 in the state, according to NJ.com. The Friars improved to 12-1 with the win over Camden.

It was a game of momentum shifts, with St. Anthony leading by 11 at halftime but trailing by two entering the fourth quarter.

The fact that Camden, which was the home team, gave such a battle to the top team in the state indicates that this could be another prosperous season for one of South Jersey’s most famous and successful programs.

The Panthers fell to 11-2. The only other loss was a 51-50 opening game defeat at Eastern. That’s an Eastern team that has shown it can compete with the best in South Jersey, but one also looking for more consistency.

Camden, meanwhile, appears ready to make another long postseason run. In coach John Valore’s first season last year, Camden won the South Jersey Group 2 title, winning at Pemberton in the final.

The Panthers will get plenty of tests before the state tournament, especially since they compete in the Olympic Conference National Division, which means two games against the likes of Camden Catholic, the consensus No. 1 team in South Jersey.

Camden has a balanced team with several players capable of taking over. Against St. Anthony junior forward Jamal Holloway had 16 points and nine rebounds, while senior guard Rasool Hinson added 15 points.

Another key player is junior swingman Brad Hawkins, who is also one of the best football players in the state.

A wide receiver, Hawkins will be one of the more heavily recruited players in recent South Jersey history.

Last season, he came on strong at the end of the year. This year and he’s already starting to do the same.

One of his biggest moments came in Camden’s most exciting win of the season--an 85-79 triple overtime thriller at Shawnee. In that game, he had 27 points.

Hawkins also added 22 points in a 78-63 win over Bishop Eustace, yet another strong team from the Olympic National.

One reason Camden has enjoyed so much success this season is due to its ability to defend. In seven of the first 13 games, the Panthers have held an opponent to 51 or fewer points.

The most points allowed came against Shawnee, but that included the three overtimes.

One thing Camden is looking to do is to develop a potential fourth consistent scorer. Hawkins, Holloway and Hinson have been carrying the bulk of the offensive load.

For instance, in the Shawnee win, the three players combined for 67 of Camden’s 85 points.

Teams can win with three potent scorers, but on occasions when one may have an off-shooting game, it’s always helpful to have more offensive options.

Still, with an experienced team that knows how to win in the postseason, and with a schedule that will prepare the Panthers for the rigors of state tournament play, they will be an extremely dangerous team.

New Jersey’s top team found this out after being tested to the limit before prevailing.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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