Basketball: New Top 10

 

This was a big shakeup week as previous No. 1 Paul VI suffered its first loss and previous No. 3 St. Augustine also suffered its first loss.

Eastern rises to No. 1 as the Vikings are the most accomplished of the remaining undefeated teams. But I'm thinking more and more this is a big-time balanced season and we could throw a blanket over around 20 of these teams.

Or maybe 25.

I wrestled a little with the No. 10 spot -- Shawnee or CHE -- but gave the Renegades the edge based on a 64-49 victory over the Cougars on Saturday. Plus, Shawnee could be a different team with the addition of senior guard Dan Mumford, the transfer from Florida.

Still, I was reluctant to drop out CHE (they did beat Lenape and BE)but did so based on an 0-2 week that included a tough loss at Washington Twp. I expect they'll be back.

Expect more movement next week as this week includes No. 2 BE at No. 3 PVI as well as No. 10 Shawnee at No. 6 Lenape.

 TOP TEN

Previous ranking in parentheses

1. Eastern (2) 10-0

Junior forward Avery Walker blocked four shots on one possession in a victory over Lenape. This team is the Olympic Conference version of The Last Man Standing (Or unbeaten, anyway). Tough game Tuesday vs. CHE, which will be itching to get back into the Top 10. Senior guard Brett Knoblauch played a strong game in that victory over Lenape on Thursday.

2. Bishop Eustace (5) 10-1

The Crusaders are averaging 74.4 points in their seven-game winning streak. This team is starting to hit its stride. Tuesday night's showdown at PVI is big but these teams will meet again in the regular season and maybe in the playoffs, too. Should be a fun night, though.

3. Paul VI (1) 9-1

Sophomore forward Jay Howard has averaged 14.6 points in the last three games. The Eagles weren't going unbeaten with that schedule. The good thing about hosting BE right after that loss to Lenape is that it prevents the Eagles from focusing on the loss. They need to get right back to business against their archrivals.

4. Willingboro (6) 8-1

Rahoun Houston scored 16 in a win over Moorestown and Joe Ricks scored 16 in a win over Cinnaminson. Senior guard Ronny Paden has missed the last two games with a dislocated finger. He'll be back soon. Senior Tyrell Maloney has picked up his game, averaging 26.5 in his last four games and scoring his 1,000th career point.

5. St. Augustine (3) 9-1

Mike Greeman's two free throws lifted the Hermits to a 52-49 victory over Atlantic City. Tough loss at Middle Township but that's a difficult place to play. The Hermits weren't going unbeaten, either. These guys will be in the mix for the Cape National crown, in the Cape tournament and in the South A tournament.

6. Lenape (7) 9-2

The Indians allowed just 22 points in the first three quarters of a victory over previous No. 1 Paul VI. Big bounce-back from that loss to Eastern but that's the beauty of the Olympic schedule -- there's opportunties around every corner. Senior Avery Brown is asseriting himself at the offensive end. 

7. Westampton Tech (8) 10-0

Marquel Davis scored 20 in a victory over Moorestown. The schedule has loosened up in recent weeks for the Panthers but they haven't slipped up. I'm not 100 percent convinced this is the No. 7 team in SJ but they are 10-0 and they have some nice wins. They will be challenged over the next couple of weeks.

8. Holy Spirit (9) 7-0

Senior guard Liam McMenamin, a transfer from The Hun School, is expected to be eligible this week. Junior guard Paul Moore hasn't scored less than 14 in a game. This team has less talent but better chemistry than last year's team. A big test at Middle Township on Saturday.

9. Paulsboro (10) 8-0

The Red Raiders, who are averaging 67.6 points, have scored between 61 and 75 in every game. Nice win at Haddon Heights on Thursday. Big test Monday night in the nightcap to the six-game MLK Classic against 9-2 Delsea. Paulsboro-Delsea is always a wrestling showdown. Now it's a basketball showdown, too.

10.  Shawnee (NR) 10-3

Junior guard Ryan Bodnar shook loose for a season-high 24 in a victory over Cherry Hill East. The Renegades have gotten a big boost from Florida transfer Dan Mumford, who went for 26 and 23 in his first two games. Coach Joe Kessler thinks the 6-0 Mumford is as good as any player in SJ at the offensive end. This team isn't physically imposing for a Group 4 team, especially not inside. But they weren't last season, either, and won another sectional title.

Under consideration (listed alphabetically):

Cherry Hill East (10-2): Tough week for the Cougars with losses to WT and Shawnee. Big opportunity Tuesday at No. 1 Eastern.

Delsea (9-2): Only two losses were the opener to Kingsway and by 50-48 to Westampton Tech down in the Boardwalk Classic in Wildwood. Nice win at Haddonfield with star Cedric Elleby on bench for half the game with foul trouble.

Florence (9-0): These guys still haven't allowed more than 47 points in a game.

Almost:

Haddonfield (9-2): Had the Bulldogs on the fringe of the Top 10 until that loss to Delsea. Still think this team will make some noise. Delsea coach Tom Freeman was raving about senior Jake Sikkema's all-around play.

Medford Tech (8-2): The Jags have won four in a row and their only two losses were to Westampton Tech and Willingboro, teams that are a combined 18-1.

Camden (5-5): You Want The High . . . Nah, too soon for that cheer. But the Panthers are playing a lot better, with three wins in a row including strong showings against Shawnee and Camden Catholic. Watch out for this team in February, if junior transfer Amir Maddred is as good as advertised.

-- Phil Anastasia

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