Great season ends with a disappointing finish for Camden

by Marc Narducci | Mar 26, 2022
Great season ends with a disappointing finish for Camden

The expectations are so high for the Camden boys basketball program, that the players, coach Rick Brunson and fans are likely disappointed at the season, even though most schools would dream for a similar one.
Camden ended the year with a 61-58 overtime loss to Roselle Catholic in the final Tournament of Champions championship.

The NJSIAA announced earlier this school year that it would be eliminating the TOC in all the sports that staged the event.
It’s a story for another day.

One reason why this one will sting Camden is that the Panthers missed so many close-in shots.
Neither team was sharp from three-point range, with both teams hitting just two each, but Camden had so many shots close to the basket that just convert.

That said, it’s hoped eventually that Camden will realize how much it accomplished.
The Panthers are one program that will look back and wonder ‘what it’ COVID hadn’t interrupted two seasons.

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In 2019-20, the season was canceled after teams had competed in the sectional championship games and some had played in state semifinals.
Camden won the South Jersey Group 2 title and was a heavy favorite to win a state title.
Then last season the NJSIAA decided that teams could only play a maximum of 15 regular-season games and no playoffs.
Camden went 13-0 and was again the favorite to win a state title and the TOC if there was such a tournament.

As it is, Camden easily won the state Group 2 championship this year, the 12th in school history.
Camden finished the season 31-3.

All three losses were to nationally ranked teams. Besides Roselle Catholic, Camden also lost to Montverde, Florida, 52-40 and Milton, Georgia, 63-55.

After that, Camden won 25 in a row until the TOC loss.
What has to be scary to Camden’s opponents next year is that a large nucleus returns, led by current 6-4 junior All-American D.J. Wagner.
He finished the year averaging 19.8 points after scoring 23 in the TOC final. Wagner also had six steals. Like many of his teammates, he got to the basket several times, but couldn’t always finish.

Part of that was the tough Roselle Catholic defense, but another part was simply shotted not falling.

Still, led by Wagner, Camden should enter next season nationally ranked and could be the No. 1 preseason team in New Jersey (if it’s not Roselle Catholic).

Among the other key players from the junior class who return next year is point guard Cian Medley, 6-5 Dasear Hawkins and 7-foot center Aaron Bradshaw.

So even though this season didn’t end the way Camden envisioned, many bright days lay ahead for the Panthers.

Author: Marc Narducci


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