South Jersey Group 1 Boys' Basketball Playoff Preview

South Jersey Group 1 Boys' Basketball Playoff Preview

The NJSIAA boys’ basketball state basketball tournament opens on March 1, and Group 1 is totally up for grabs.

With the tournament less than a month away, we will be previewing the various groups in South Jersey:

South Jersey Group 1
First tournament game: March 2
Sectional championship: March 9
State semifinal: March 11
State final: March 15

Defending South Jersey champion: Clayton. The Clippers beat Wildwood, 64-63 in the final.

Outlook: There is no prohibitive favorite. This might be the most up for grabs group of in any for the boys. The NJSIAA cutoff date is Feb. 8. Teams are seeded based on their records of that day, or from their first 16 games. (Most will have 16 played before the cutoff).

At press time, Overbrook was the top seed. The Rams began the week 11-4 and had not lost to a Group 1 team. The losses came against Group 2 West Deptford and Haddonfield, Group 3 Mainland and Group 4 Eastern. Playing this type of schedule will be a big boost to the Rams.

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Senior forward Davon Thornton and junior guard Damian Rawls are both averaging 14 points per game for this balanced attack that also plays strong defense Senior guard Julian Durr, who had 17 points in one of the biggest wins of the season, a 52-48 victory over Haddon Heights, is coming on strong. Senior guard Shamar Gantt is averaging 10 points per game.

Overbrook is the type of team where anybody in the starting lineup could end up as the leading scorer. The combination of the scoring balance and tenacious defense, will make the Rams a definite contender.

This is probably a Group in which the top seven teams can be considered potential contenders. The others besides Overbook are Pitman, Penns Grove and Woodstown, Lindenwold, Wildwood and Haddon Township.

Nobody should count out Paulsboro, which began the week 7-8.

Pitman, which began the week seeded No. 2 was 13-2, with one of the losses 59-58 to Overbrook. The Panthers also had an earlier win over Wildwood, but then lost to the Warriors in the rematch, 51-27.

Penns Grove, which won the SJ Group 1 football title, will also be dangerous in basketball. The Red Devils already own two wins over contender Woodstown and suffered a 70-66 loss to Group 3 contender Timber Creek.

Senior Kavon Lewis, who was the football quarterback, is also having an excellent basketball season for Penn Grove, averaging 16 points per game.

Another potential dark horse is Haddon Township, which reached the semifinals last year. The Hawks began the week 9-7. They hit a skid by losing four in a row but bounced back win a 37-36 win over rival Audubon. Junior point guard Brendan Mulligan and senior swingman Eric Shuttleworth lead the Hawks, yet another potential contender in his balanced field.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo courtesy of Overbrook High School

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