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South Jersey Group 1 Boys’ Basketball Should Have Plenty of Contenders

South Jersey Group 1 Boys’ Basketball Should Have Plenty of Contenders
One of the more interesting races in the upcoming NJSIAA boys’ basketball state tournament is in South Jersey Group 1. This looks to be a group that will be dominated by the Tri-County Conference.
 
The public school tournament begins on Feb. 25 with Groups 2 and 4 in action while Groups 1 and 3 will begin on the 25th.
 
The South Jersey championship games are March 4 and 5.
 
According to the latest NJSIAA power points, Tri-County teams had three of the top four teams with Penns Grove first followed by Salem and then Glassboro sitting fourth. The only non-Trico team among the top four was Haddon Township, which was third.
 
Penns Grove will earn the favorite’s mantle but any of the top four could win this wide-open Group. In fact, fifth seeded Overbrook and No. 8 Woodstown are teams that could be contenders as well.
 
As an example of the depth in Group 1, Pitman, which his currently seeded 11th and entered the week with a 4-11 record, owns a win over Salem. Teams like Paulsboro and defending state champion Woodbury from the Colonial Conference, probably can’t be counted out.
 
This is a Group where if a team has an off-shooting night, it could be eliminated even if it is a heavy favorite.
 
That said, Penns Grove will be tough to beat. The Red Devils began the week 12-1 and have two wins over Woodstown and a victory over Glassboro. The lone defeat was a 55-43 loss to a Cherokee team that should be a South Jersey Group 4 contender.
 
Leading the way for Penns Grove is junior guard Kavon Lewis, who is averaging more than 20 points a game. Lewis is an outstanding athlete who was the quarterback on the 13-0 South Jersey Group 1 champion football team.
 
What makes Salem so dangerous is having a variety of top scorers, led by Jamael Bundy and Gage Ausland, who both entered the week averaging 14.3 points.
 
There is depth behind those two which is why Salem should be dangerous.
 
Haddon Township is led by one of the top all-around athletes in Group 1, 6-2 senior Brian Burns, who recently scored his 1,000th career point. Burns can play virtually any position on the court and often does. Haddon Township last year lost by a point in the playoffs to eventual state champ Woodbury and the Hawks should make another run.
 
Eric Shuttleworth, a 6-3 junior, is another key scoring option for Haddon Township.
 
So should Glassboro, which has electrifying 6-3 freshman Keon Sabb. In his first 15 games he was averaging 21.4 points. Another key offensive player is Kyree Myers, a 5-10 senior who is averaging 15.6 points. That is one of the top one-two scoring tandems in Group 1.
 
Glassboro hosts Penns Grove in a rematch on Feb. 5 and that should be a great pre-playoff tuneup for both teams.
 

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It also could be a preview of the South Jersey Group 1 final.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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