Vastly Improved Camden Catholic, a...

Vastly Improved Camden Catholic, a... Vastly Improved Camden Catholic, a Boys' Basketball Contender in Olympic National

Last year was an aberration for Camden Catholic's boys' basketball team. Normally competing to be among the Top 10 in South Jersey, the Irish were hurt by some key injuries and didn't have the depth to recover. The result was an 8-18 record The Irish began the week 8-2 after a big week with two wins over schools from Camden. The biggest was a 58-47 victory over previously undefeated Camden, the four-time defending South Jersey champion and the favorite again in Group 2.

Junior swingman Dominic Dunn led Camden Catholic with 18 points while sophomore center Baba Ajike added 13 points. Football standout Nazir Streater, a 5-11 senior, had nine points and 10 rebounds, while junior guard Elijah Nichols added eight points.

Streater didn't play basketball last season opting to concentrate on football. He was one of the best running backs this past season in South Jersey, and his contribution on the basketball team has been significant.

He has brought leadership and toughness to a team that this year has plenty of both.

The Irish also earned a 55-51 win over Woodrow Wilson, as Ajike and senior point guard Kyle Cooney each scored 13 points while Streater and fellow Ian McCarthy each had nine points.

Those two wins over Camden teams showed the balance of Camden Catholic. The Irish don't have one go-to scorer, but several players who are capable of leading them.

That means opposing teams can't just concentrate on defending one or even two players.

The win over Wilson was the Irish's third victory by five or fewer points in the first 10 games.

Camden Catholic  started the season with five consecutive victories until losing to Washington Township and Paul VI. The Irish will get a chance to avenge the Paul VI game with a rematch against the Eagles on Feb. 2.

Camden Catholic  competes in one of the top conferences in South Jersey, the Olympic National. Camden entered the season as the favorite and the Panthers, despite the loss of point guard Corey Greer with a season-ending knee injury, will be a factor.

Bishop Eustace and Paul VI are also considered contenders. Camden Catholic has beaten Eustace once and as mentioned lost to Paul VI.

So this should be a race that goes down to the wire and the Irish will be a major factor, something they also hope to be when the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A Tournament begins on Feb. 28.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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