A basketball day to remember for the City of Camden

by Marc Narducci | Mar 17, 2022
A basketball day to remember for the City of Camden

What a boys basketball season in the City of Camden. The city produced not one, but two boys' basketball state champions. Camden started the party with a 92-53 rout of Newark Central in the state Group 2 championship.

Woodrow Wilson then made it a sweep for the city by defeating Rampo, 43-42 to win the Group 3 state championship.

This was the first time since 1978 that Camden and Woodrow Wilson both played in a state championship.

For a school that is steeped in such great tradition, it was Camden’s first state title since 2000. That was the year Camden also won the Tournament of Champions title.

Camden has now won 12 state titles. Woodrow Wilson won its fifth state title since 1985.

Now both teams earned a berth in the Tournament of Champions.This is the final year of the Tournament of Champions and wouldn’t it be something if Camden, the No. 1 seed, wins the final one. Wilson is the lowest seed, No. 6. (Why the NJSIAA is canceling the TOC is another story for another day).

Camden’s state championship was expected since the preseason.

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The Panthers may have won one state title in each of the previous two years, but there were no state championships. 

In 2020, the beginning of COVID, the NJSIAA tournament was halted while some teams were competing in the state semifinals.

There was no state tournament last year in boys’ or girls’ basketball, just a 15-game maximum regular season. So Camden finished the deal this year and didn’t have a whole lot of resistance.

In its six playoff games, this season Camden has averaged 90.5 points and allowed an average of 49.5 points.

The closest game was a 78-45 win over Haddonfield in the South Jersey Group 2 championship. That game was essentially over early as Camden led 19-2 after one quarter.

Camden has plenty of firepowers, led by the No. 1 junior in the country, 6-4 D.J. Wagner. Yet on this Camden team, Wagner can spread the wealth. He averages 19.3 points, but if needed could explode.

The state final was an example of depth. Wagner was among five double-figure scorers, with 20 points. A total of 11 players scored.

As for Wilson (22-6), this was one of the most impressive turnarounds in recent South Jersey history.

The Tigers were just 4-5 last year and 2-20 in 2019-2020 and 4-20 the year before.

First-year coach Kenny Avent, who previously was a head coach at Woodbury, has led the turnaround.

Senior guard Zoe Holman has averaged a team-high 15.8 points on a team that relies on plenty of balance.

It all led to a day that will be remembered for a long time for hoops fans in Camden and really throughout South Jersey.

 


Author: Marc Narducci

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