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Strong Year in Boys Basketball

Strong Year in Boys Basketball Strong Year in South Jersey Boys Basketball

There was just one NJSIAA boys basketball state champion from South Jersey, but two others reached the state final in a year of great parity.

This was a season where there wasn’t much separation between the top 10 to 12 teams in South Jersey.

Many teams went through both winning and losing streaks, but one that kept consistent was Paulsboro.

The Red Raiders won their second straight state Group 1 title with 78-48 win over University High. That improved Paulsboro’s record to 30-2 heading into the Tournament of Champions.

The only losses were a 70-66 defeat to Group 3 Timber Creek on December 27 and a 53-51 defeat to Haddonfield on February 18.

Paulsboro also owned wins over South Jersey Group 2 champion Camden and South Jersey Group 3 champ Winslow Township. This was a veteran Paulsboro team, one that had just one close call in the state tournament, a 51-50 state Group 1 semifinal win over Shore Regional.

Through the last four years, Paulsboro won 113 games, four Colonial Conference Patriot Division titles, three South Jersey Group 1 championships, and now the state title.

Seniors Theo Holloway and Saleem Little were varsity players all four years, and coach Sean Collins did an excellent job molding this veteran group.

The other two South Jersey teams to earn a berth in the state final were Camden and Cherry Hill East.

Camden, in the state final for the third straight year, suffered a 57-51 loss to Newark Tech in the Group 2 championship. Senior guard Rasool Hinson led the Panthers with 17 points. Camden (25-7) had some challenges in the postseason, including a 48-40 victory at top seeded Haddonfield in the sectional final.

The Panthers top two leading scorers, Jamal Holloway and Brad Hawkins, are both juniors. They combined to average more than 31 points per game, and they will ensure that once again next year Camden should be a viable state title contender.

As for Cherry Hill East (26-6), the Cougars were decided underdogs in the Group 4 final, so Patterson Eastside’s 50-34 win was no surprise.

Leading up to the state final, East had a major challenge in the South Jersey title game, outlasting Cherokee, 48-39 in double overtime. It was the second straight year East beat Cherokee in the sectional final.

In the state championship, East senior point guard Jake Silpe had a strong game with 18 points. As for the rest of the team, scoring against such a strong Paterson Eastside defensive team proved to be a difficult task.

Silpe, one of the top players in school history, is now headed to the University of Pennsylvania and will be missed.

East still has among others, 6-8 junior Tim Perry returning, so the Cougars should be competitive, although winning a third straight South Jersey Group 4 title will be a difficult task.

Still, East set a winning culture and the program will benefit greatly next season.

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