Camden a Heavy Favorite in South Jersey Group 2 Boys’ Basketball

Camden a Heavy Favorite in South Jersey Group 2 Boys’ Basketball
After losing some epic playoff battles the last few years to Haddonfield, Camden enters the South Jersey Group 2 state tournament that begins next month as a prohibitive favorite.
 
Haddonfield is the two-time defending state champion, but the Bulldogs only returned one starter. Despite the relative inexperience, Haddonfield has played well and will be a contender, but anybody beating Camden will have to spring a major upset.
 
Here is the second of our boys’ basketball previews:
 
South Jersey Group 2
First tournament game: March 3
Sectional final: March 9
State semifinal: March 11
State championship: March 15
 
Defending South Jersey champion: Haddonfield beat Camden, 69-67 in overtime.
 
Outlook: Camden began the week 18-1, losing only to Philadelphia Catholic League power Roman Catholic. The Panthers have a good mix of youth and experience. Lance Ware, a 6-foot-9 senior, averages 12 points and eight rebounds. He is a University of Kentucky recruit.
 
Ware doesn’t need to score more because Camden has plenty of offense. Freshman guard DJ Wagner is Camden’s leading scorer, averaging 16.6 points. He part of a legendary basketball family. His father Dajuan Wagner is one of the best players in South Jersey history, whose NBA career was cut short due to illness. Milt Wagner, DJ’s grandfather starred at Camden and Louisville and earned an NBA championship ring with the Los Angeles Lakers.
 
Jerome Brewer, a powerful 6-7 junior, averages more than nine points per game but his biggest contribution is that he is an inside presence.
 
Camden will be the top seed in South Jersey Group 2, and Haddonfield will be No. 2.
 
Haddonfield’s lone returning starter was Ben Cerrato, who has enjoyed a big senior season. The 6-3 Cerrato, who will attend Division III Randolph Macon, began the week averaging nearly 16 points per game.
 
He has not only provided needed scoring, but added leadership. Senior guard Andrew Gostovich is averaging 16 points per game. Gostovich and Cerrato have been a formidable combo and if Haddonfield gets a third consistent scorer, the Bulldogs have a great shot to reach the sectional final. Haddonfield began the week 18-2, which his surprising because of how inexperienced coach Paul Wiedeman’s team was entering the season.
 
Joining Haddonfield from the Colonial Conference Liberty Division as key Group 2 teams are Haddon Heights and West Deptford.
 
Heights lost in overtime to Haddonfield during their first meeting. West Deptford suffered its three Colonial Liberty losses to Haddon Heights, Haddonfield and Sterling by a total of nine points so the Eagles bear watching in the tournament.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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