Who is the Player of the Year in South Jersey boys' basketball this season?
I think the race has narrowed to four candidates. But any of the four can win it by raising his game in the state tournament, which starts Monday.
To me, the post-season is the key when deciding all-star teams and POY awards. It's the time when the best players step up and lead their teams deep in the tournament, or even to a state title.
That's what happened with St. Augustine's Isaiah Morton last season. I'm not sure he was the favorite to be the POY when the regular season ended. By the time the Hermits won the N-P A title, Morton was a lock.
This year, the four main candidates (In alphabetical order) are Ron Curry of Paul VI, Xavier Lundy of Paulsboro, Tyrell Maloney of Willingboro and Carson Puriefoy of Bishop Eustace.
Not coincidentally, those are the top four teams in The Inquirer Top 10.
Curry has led PVI to a 22-3 record, highlighted by Thursday night's convincing victory over BE. He controlled that game with 11 points, 6 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks.
Curry has led PVI to good wins over BE (twice), Lenape, Shawnee and Roman Catholic. PVI has also swept Camden and CC.
Lundy has led Paulsboro to a 25-0 record. The only junior in the group, he's made an impact as a scorer but also on the boards and at the defensive end as a shotblocker and disruptor on the top of that 1-3-1 zone.
Paulsboro has good wins over PVI, RV and Lenape (both in OT), Westampton Tech, Haddonfield and Haddon Heights.
Maloney has led Willingboro to a 22-2 record. The Chimeras have not lost to a team from SJ. They've swept Medford Tech and NBC and also beaten RV and Westampton Tech.
Puriefoy has led BE to a 21-5 record. The Crusaders have beaten Lenape, Eastern and East Brunswick and swept Camden and CC.
All four players have put together strong regular seasons.
But the POY award is won in the state tournament.
Who is the best player in SJ this season?
Ask me again in two weeks.
(For a closer look at this issue, check out Sunday's Inquirer).
-- Phil Anastasia