Basketball: New Top 10

The top four teams stayed in place but there was significant movement at the rest of the spots in this week's Top 10.

Holy Spirit is No. 6 with a bullet as the Spartans jumped from No. 10 thanks to an 4-0 week that included an impressive win at then-No. 5 St. Augustine.

Lenape and Paulsboro move up, St. Augustine and Westampton Tech drop down, Cherry Hill East drops out, and Shawnee re-enters the Top 10.

There's a lot of teams knocking hard on the door, such as Medford Tech, Delsea, Middle Township and CHE, which probably will be back based on the opportunities in the Cougars' schedule.

Here's the new Top 10, as of Sunday, Jan. 29, with previous ranking in parentheses:

1. Paul VI (1) 14-1
Sophomore forward Matt Risse has scored 34 points in the Eagles' last two games. The Eagles got a scare when senior center Roosevelt Cubbage missed three games with a pretty serious ankle sprain. But Cubbage saw some time Saturday in a blowout of Atlantic Christian and should be OK, according to coach Tony Devlin. Cubbage's absence could have a benefit in that it forced the Eagles to use their bench. This team will need the likes of reserve forward Pat Kennedy and reserve guard Tim Terifay at some point in March.

2. Eastern (2) 13-1
The Vikings have allowed an average of just 46.7 points in their last three games. Coach Joe Murphy though the Vikings were becoming a little too enamored of three-point shots. Some of that might have been because they were shooting so well, with senior Mike Wilson and junior Devon Bell leading the way. But Murphy wants his team to play "inside-out," and that means more emphasis on guys such as senior forward Melvin Ford, junior forward Avery Walker and sophomore center Matt Klinewski. Those guys have picked up their game in recent weeks. Murphy also has high praise for junior guard Jordan Ifill, one of those guys who plays defense and passes the ball and serves as a stabilizing factor for a talented team. "He does so much that doesn't show up in the boxscore," Murphy said. Big challenge Saturday vs. No. 1 Paul VI.

3. Willingboro (3) 13-1
Five players scored in double figures in an impressive, 88-59 victory over Pennsauken. Would have liked to have seen this team at Rancocas Valley on Saturday but schedules can be tricky. The Chimeras still haven't lost to a team from New Jersey yet. Tough week includes a game at No. 10 Westampton Tech on Saturday. 

4. Bishop Eustace (5) 13-3
Junion center Ry'n Bland played well and scored 10 points in Saturday's loss to state power Trenton Catholic. The Crusaders were right there, and more than a few folks close to the program were upset that a technical foul all but decided the game with 1:31 on the clock. They have a point. That wasn't a good time for that call in a game that was as close and competitive as that one. Still, the bigger issue might have been 9-for-20 shooting from the foul line. Coach Bob Falconiero has been worried about this group's free-throw shooting for three years. It's a delicate thing for a coach. If he harps on it, maybe that tightens the Crusaders up even more in big spots. If he brushes it off, maybe he wonders if he's not stressing the importance of those shots enough. One thing is clear: These guys will be in close games in March (that's a given in South A). They will need to make free throws.

5. Lenape (6) 12-2
Junior guard Sawyer Hand scored a career-high 14 points in a victory over Winslow Township. Some people think the Indians might be the team to beat in SJ 4 in March. I could see that. But I could see Eastern, Shawnee, CHE or even Atlantic City in the same role. It really will depend on who's hot and who's healthy. Plus, matchups could be key, based on how the brackets fall. Big test for this team Tuesday night against No. 4 Bishop Eustace. Both squads are angling for the best possible seed at Saturday's tournament cutoff.

6. Holy Spirit (10) 13-1
In a 4-0 week, the Spartans allowed an average of just 46.2 points and beat state powers St. Augustine and Ewing. Much of the talk about South A has focused on PVI and BE and SAP as well as St. Joseph's of Metuchen (which is loaded). But it would be unwise to sleep on the Spartans. These guys are playing with a lot of confidence. They have a little bit of an underdog mentality, which is different than last season. That 2-3 zone is causing fits -- and coach Jamie Gillespie is a man-to-man guy.

7. St. Augustine (5) 13-2
Senior forward Brent Slotoroff scored 18 in a victory over Hammonton. The Hermits responded to a tough home loss to Holy Spirit -- when they were 1-for-21 from beyond the arc -- with a nice win at Bridgeton (no easy place to play) and a victory over Hammonton. Best quote of the season so far from coach Paul Rodio, of his team's shooting before a near-capacity crowd in the Hermits' gym on Monday night: "I don't know what's worse, the 1 or the 21."

8. Paulsboro (9) 14-0
Freshmen Theo Holloway and Saleem Little were members of an undefeated eight-grade team, so they haven't lost a game in two years. Coach Sean Collins said those guys lost one game in seventh grade. Very impressive win over Westampton Tech on Saturday at RV. Good work from those frosh and junior Xavier Lundy stepped up with 24 points and 14 boards. The Red Raiders were missing three starters who were taking SATs. They still controlled the game against the 13-1 Panthers.

9. Shawnee (NR) 13-4
The Renegades are 5-1 since senior guard Dan Mumford, a transfer from Florida, became eligible. This is a different team since Mumford joined the squad. That loss to Lenape was a tough night for this team, and you sometimes wonder about matchups -- Lenape is big and strong, and they can bump cutters and fight over screens and use a little hand-checking to push Shawnee two or three feet farther from the basket, outside its comfort zone. Or maybe it was just one of those nights for the Renegades.

10.  Westampton Tech (8) 13-2
Senior forward Bazil Jackson has scored 31 in the Panthers' last two ganmes. The Panthers played a little flat in the first half -- it was an 11:30 a.m. start -- in falling behind Paulsboro by 12. They rallied twice to within one, hitting the offensive glass with a venegance. But they couldn't finish the deal. This is another team that struggles from the FT line. Big challenge Saturday at home against Willingboro. That will be a big game for junior guard Shaun Russell, a Willingboro resident.

Under consideration (listed alphabetically):

Cherry Hill East (12-4): Freshman Jake Silpe had three steals, a traditional three-point play and a three-point jumper in rallying the Cougars from a 7-point deficit in the final two minutes of the 58-55 loss to Med Tech.

Delsea (14-3): Senior center Trey Parker and junior forward Cedric Elleby form a tough inside combo for the Crusaders.

Medford Tech (13-3): Senior center Kennedy Chukwuocha looks like one of those guys who improves every week. Watch out for this team in SJ 2 in March.

Middle Township (10-4): Another SJ 2 contender. The Panthers have juniors who are growing up fast, and should get senior Clarence Allen back this week.


Haddon Heights (13-2): Garnets have responded to consecutive losses with five wins in a row.

Wildwood Catholic (14-5): SJ's hottest team has won 11 in a row and is undefeated (10-0) since 6-10 center James Baumgardner became eligible after transferring from St. Augustine.

Atlantic City (9-4): Junior swingman Gabriel Chandler, a transfer from Atlantic Christian, has made a major impact for the Vikings.

-- Phil Anastasia