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South Jersey Group 4 NJSIAA Boys’...

South Jersey Group 4 NJSIAA Boys’... South Jersey Group 4 NJSIAA Boys’ Basketball Preview

Last season Shawnee not only won the NUSIAA South Jersey Group 4 title, but advanced to the state final before falling to Linden. Now the Renegades are the No. 1 seed and will be difficult to beat in the end.

Defending champion: Shawnee beat Toms River North, 76-72 in triple overtime.

Tournament begins: Feb. 27

This season’s first-round matchups: (16) Southern Regional at (1) Shawnee; (9) Kingsway at (8) Williamstown; (12) Brick Memorial at (5) Rancocas Valley; (13) Cherry Hill East at (4) Eastern; (14) Clearview at (3) Atlantic City; (11) Lenape at (6) Millville; (10) Howell at (7) Cherokee; (15) Vineland at (2) Toms River North

Favorite: Shawnee

Main contenders: Atlantic City, Eastern

Outlook: Shawnee has lost two starters for the year due to injury but the Renegades are still the team to beat and are playing their best basketball of the season as the postseason approaches. The Renegades have a dynamic scoring duo of 6-1 senior Dean Noll and 6-7 senior Dylan Deveney. Noll, who averaged 14 points last season, is averaging more than 23 this year.

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He often plays point guard and sets up his teammates, but is also adept at creating his own shot. Noll is dangerous shooting off the dribble, or in a catch-and-shoot mode.

He also has the savvy to stay calm during the most pressurized situations.

Deveney is among the more versatile players in South Jersey. He is an excellent three-point shooter, but can use his height to post players up inside. He entered the week averaging 17 points per game.

Daevon Robinson, a 6-4 senior, is a player who does all the unsung work, playing strong defense, boxing out, rebounding and passing.

He is a Rutgers football recruit, but has a great affinity for basketball and plays with a motor that never stops.

Joe Kessler, who had guided the Renegades to five state titles and 11 South Jersey crowns, is already looked on as one of the top coaches in South Jersey history.

Atlantic City is playing its best basketball of the season. The Vikings entered the week 21-3 and winners of eight straight.

Included in that stretch was a 60-59 win over Wildwood Catholic and a 58-56 victory over Paul VI, two of the hotter teams in South Jersey.

Atlantic City’s 6-4 senior Ray Bethea Jr. is among the top players in South Jersey.

Eastern began the week 16-8 but the Vikings have played one of the toughest schedules in South Jersey. The Vikings have prestige wins over Atlantic City, defending South Jersey Non-Public A champion St. Augustine, and Wildwood Catholic to name a few.

Toms River North, a finalist last year, will be a contender this year as well. The Mariners began the week 21-4 and don’t be fooled by a recent 76-52 loss to Ranney in the Shore Conference Tournament. That is a talented Ranney team that should make serious noise in South Jersey Non-Public B.

There will probably be one or two other teams that emerge as contenders in what is an extremely deep Group 4 field.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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