South Jersey Goes 3-for-3 in Public...

South Jersey Goes 3-for-3 in Public... South Jersey Goes 3-for-3 in Public School Boys’ Basketball Title Games
South Jersey boys’ basketball teams enjoyed their day in the sun during the recently completed NJSIAA boys’ basketball state championship games.

Four teams from the seven-county South Jersey area advanced to the state championship, with three of them coming out victorious.

The three were Shawnee in Group 4, Haddonfield in Group 2 and Woodbury in Group 1. Shawnee and Woodbury won nail-biters. Haddonfield had a close game until pulling away in the fourth quarter.

Shawnee defeated Newark East Side, 56-53, to win the school’s sixth state championship, all under coach Joe Kessler.

The Renegades had to overcome some key injuries, but received outstanding performances from its core group of seniors, 6-7 Dylan Devenney, 6-4 Daevon Robinson and 6-1 Dean Noll. Connor Devenney, who got the go-ahead basket in the state final, was also a clutch player.

Haddonfield used a 23-12 fourth quarter to pull away from Newark Central, 62-45 in winning the Group 2 state title.

Junior Mike DePersia, showed why he is among South Jersey’s top point guards by scoring 22 points in the championship.

The Bulldogs biggest win along the way was a 54-53 overtime triumph over Camden in a South Jersey Group 2 semifinal that had the feeling of a state final. In that game, DePersia’s put-back with three seconds left was the game-winner.

Camden had won six straight sectional titles (combined in Group 3 and Group 2) and was the favorite to repeat as South Jersey champion. After losing 42-40 in overtime during last year’s South Jersey Group 2 final to Camden, Haddonfield got revenge.

Haddonfield advanced to this year’s state final after a grind-it-out 43-39 state semifinal win over Rumson as senior Will Bond and junior Dan Fleming each scored 10 points.

Woodbury made it a clean South Jersey public school sweep by defeating Cresskill, 60-58 to win the state Group 1 title. Aaron Estrada, a 6-4 junior, who had an outstanding state tournament, scored a game-high 23 points.

This says quite a bit about the Colonial Conference, where two of its teams Haddonfield and Woodbury were able to win state title.

A fourth South Jersey team that reached the state final was Camden Catholic, which lost 61-54 to powerful Don Bosco Prep in the Non-Public A title game.

The Irish trailed by 12 entering the final period and it was too much to overcome.

It was a great season for the Irish (23-7) who won their first sectional title since 2010.

The Irish played one of the toughest schedules in South Jersey and finished second to Camden in one of the deepest divisions in the area, the Olympic National.

So it was a great season for the Irish and of course, the three state champions in an awfully strong showing from South Jersey.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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