Early story lines in the South Jersey boys’ basketball season

by Marc Narducci | Jan 21, 2022
Early story lines in the South Jersey boys’ basketball season

The high school boys’ basketball season is more than a month old and some early trends are emerging. Here are a look at some of the key developments.

Don’t count Camden out. It wasn’t Camden’s fault that outlets like Max Preps ranked the Panthers the No. 1 team in the nation. The idea all along for Camden is to win a state title, something this program with great tradition (and 11 state titles) hasn’t done since 2001. 

So even though Camden lost last week to two national powers, 52-40 to Montverde, Florida and 66-48 to Calvary Christian Florida, don’t write the Panthers’ obituary just yet. 

They have proven to be the top team in the state with wins over Roselle Catholic and Lenape (South Jersey’s No. 2 team). 

Playing this type of national schedule will only help the Panthers. 

Watch out for the Indians. Lenape began the week 11-1, with the lone loss the 76-64 defeat at Camden. The Indians have clearly proven to be the second best team in South Jersey. Of the first 11 wins, nine have been by 10 or more points. Derek Simpson, the 6-1 senior headed to Rutgers, is solidifying himself as an All-South Jersey performer. Simpson is averaging 17.8 points and approximately 7.5 assists. As stated last week, this is a viable state Group 4 title contender.

Interesting race in the Colonial Liberty. Sterling, the defending champion is in the early driver’s seat in a race that should go down to the wire. The Silver Knights began the week 5-0 in the Liberty, with the big win a 43-40 victory over Haddonfield.

Meanwhile Haddonfield began the week 4-1 in the Liberty. Haddonfield doesn’t score a lot of points, but coach Paul Wiedeman has the Bulldogs playing relentless D. 

Junior Caleb Mundell leads Sterling in scoring, averaging 12.3 points, so the Silver Knights will also win their share of defensive struggles. 

With the way Haddonfield and Sterling play defense, this will be a division decided by low scoring games.

The surprise so far has been Collingswood.

The Panthers began the week 8-3 overall and 3-2 in the Liberty. One Liberty loss was a 61-57 to Sterling. The other a 56-30 defeat to Haddonfield.

That said, the Panthers, just 4-10 last year, are among the most improved teams in South Jersey. Mekhi Bassett, a 6-3 senior, is averaging a team-best 20.5 points. 

Overbrook ridding high again. Overbrook is picking up where it left off last season. A year ago the Rams went 13-2 overall and 8-0 in the Tri-County Diamond Division.

The Rams started this week 5-2, 2-0 and the losses were to quality teams, Paul VI and Cherokee. Overbrook is again considered a major contender in the Diamond. Sophomore Jaylan Hornsby, has averaged 14.3 points last year, is now averaging 20.5 points.

 

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Author: Marc Narducci

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