Legendary St. Anthony of Jersey City coach Bob Hurley remembers his first game against Camden High. "They put a whupping on us," Hurley said of a 1978 game at Camden.
A year later, Hurley said, St. Anthony "balanced the scale" against Camden, setting the tone for a "healthy rivalry" between two programs that, for a time, represented the North Jersey and South Jersey capitals of high school basketball.
St. Anthony and Camden will renew a long-dormant rivalry with a game Dec. 30 at the Boardwalk Basketball Classic at the Wildwood Convention Center. The game will be part of the Bob Hurley Elite Showcase bracket at the annual tournament, which draws more than 80 boys and girls teams to the holiday event.
"We're excited to be playing a storied Camden program that has a tradition in our state, especially in the Southern part of our state, that is unparalleled," Hurley said at a press conference Friday at the Convention Center off the boardwalk in Wildwood.
St. Anthony has won 26 state titles and 12 T of C titles. The Friars are currently on a 65-game winning streak. Camden is coming off an 18-13 season but the Panthers won their 42d sectional title, capturing the South Jersey Group 3 championship.
"This will be great exposure for our kids," Camden coach Cetshwayo Byrd said. "They can see high school basketball at the next level, where Camden used to be and where they hope to get back to."
The Camden-St. Anthony game is set to tip at 8:15 p.m. on December 30, a Sunday. The first game of the bracket, set for a 6:30 tip, will feature Mathematics, Civics and Sciences charter of Philadelphia against Prime Prep Academy of Dallas.
Wildwood mayor Ernie Troiano Jr., president of the BBC, said the tournament hopes to have Hurley and St. Anthony back on a regular basis. "We'd like them to come back for the next 20 years," Troiano said.
-- Phil Anastasia