Questions leading up to the NJSIAA boys basketball state tournament

by Marc Narducci | Feb 22, 2021
Questions leading up to the NJSIAA boys basketball state tournament

The NJSIAA boys’ basketball state tournament begins on Feb. 28. Many of the races appear to be tight, but not all. Here are some of the key questions as the single-elimination.


Can anybody stop Camden?

Probably not.

In fact, if the Panthers don’t win SJ Group 2, there would be no bigger upset. Camden is the No. 1 seed, and No. 1 in the state according to NJ.com.

Everybody knows about Camden 6-4 guard D.J. Wagner, considered by many to be the top junior in the country. He is averaging 18.6 points, but there is not a need for him to be a 30 points per game scorer, even though he has that ability. Camden has plenty of depth.

Junior point guard Cian Medley(10.7 ppg.) is another player who could score much more if he were on another team, but on this balanced unit, his main job is running the offense.

Sterling is the No. 2 seed and Haddonfield is the No. 3 seed and the real suspense is which one could possibly advance to an expected final against Camden.

Sterling has beaten Haddonfield in both regular season meetings between these Colonial Conference Liberty Division teams.

The best way Sterling wins is on defense. Senior guard Jim Zingaro (11.1 ppg.) and Caleb Mundell (10.8 ppg.) are the team leaders.

Haddonfield sophomore Daire Roddy is a defensive stopper and could be among the more unsung players in this tournament. Senior guard Tommy Mooney (14.2 ppg.) and senior swingman Matt Leming (12.7 ppg.) carry the offense for Haddonfield.

It’s very possible one of these teams can meet Camden for the sectional title.

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Beating the Panthers would be another story.

What is the Group with the most exciting race?

That would have to be SJ Group 4 where Cherry Hill East is seeded No. 1 and Lenape is No. 2. These two Olympic Conference American Division.
East began the week 23-1, having not lost since a 51-46 defeat to Lenape on Dec. 23. East won the rematch 43-39 on Feb. 1.

Could other teams end up challenging?

Absolutely.

Another Olympic American team Shawnee, the No. 5 seed, is an interesting so called dark horse. Any team guided by Joe Kessler, who won his 700th game earlier this season shouldn’t be considered a dark horse.

Shawnee lost two one-point decisions to Cherry Hill East.

Lenape might be the No. 2 seed, but in senior point guard Derek Simpson, they have the best player in SJ Group 4. A Rutgers commit, Simpson is averaging 17.9 points.

East may not have a star, but this is a very strong team, EJ Matthews-Spratley, a 6-1 senior, averages a team-high 14.7 points.

East and Lenape are both strong defensive teams and will need to be to survive in SJ Group 4 and despite the presence of teams like Shawnee and No. 3 Egg Harbor Township, a Lenape-Cherry Hill East matchup seems like the best scenario.

Can Paulsboro live up to its No. 1 seed in SJ Group 1?

It’s very likely. The Red Raiders already own a 60-45 win over No. 2 Salem, but that was Dec. 23. Salem has improved since then, but so has Paulsboro, which began the week on a 14-game win streak.

Paulsboro senior guard Keyshun Sanders (22.7 ppg.) will be among the players to watch in SJ Group 1.

Watch out for sophomore guard Anthony Farmer Jr. who is averaging 13.9 points for Salem.

Another team to watch is No. 3 seed Wildwood, which is 1-2 this season against Salem.

What is the best potential matchup in SJ Group 3?

If top seeded Moorestown and No. 4 seed Woodrow Wilson win their first two games, they would meet in the semifinal.

Moorestown is a team that often plays as many as 10 players and thrives on its tough defense and its balance. Woodrow Wilson has played as difficult of a schedule as any Group 3 team and really opened some eyes with a 49-42 win over Lenape.


Author: Marc Narducci

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