Monday, July 14, 2014
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Basketball: New Top 10

Basketball: New Top 10

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By Phil Anastasia

Here's the new Top 10, as of Sunday Jan. 27, with previous ranking in parentheses:

1. Atlantic City (1) 13-1
Senior forward Ga-briel Chandler scored in double figures in victories over Egg Harbor Township and Millville last week. The Vikings continue to get balanced scoring, with seniors Chandler, Jah-leem Montague and Dayshawn Reynolds and juniors Dennis White and Isiah Graves all scoring in low double figures on a regular basis. Big game Friday night vs. No. 3 St. Augustine in Battle by the Bay at AC.

2. Paulsboro (2) 15-0
Sophomore Brandon Hamilton bounced off the bench to deliver five key points in a two-minute stretch of Saturday's 79-71 victory over then-No. 7 Eastern. Paulsboro's depth was the difference in a physical, foul-filled battle. Give coach Sean Collins a lot of credit for the willingness to go to his bench. That's not always easy for a coach to do in a tight game with major implications. But it paid off big time for the Red Raiders. Also credit senior Xavier Lundy for raising his game to the occasion on Saturday night at RV.

3. St. Augustine (5) 13-1
Senior David Sullivan made the key play in overtime of a 63-61 vistory over then-No. 4 Middle Township on Friday. The Hermits have won 11 in a row and have avenged their only loss of the season. Big challenge and big opportunity Friday night at AC in Battle by the Bay. Those teams could meet again in Cape Atlantic League tournament. Veteran coach Paul Rodio has 771 wins. He needs four to tie former Camden coach Clarence Turner for tops on SJ's all-time list.

4. Lenape (6) 14-1
Senior Kendall Green scored 15 in a 65-28 victory over Woodrow Wilson on Thursday. The Indians are rolling along, playing solid defense as always and getting good balance on offense. Big game Tuesday afternoon at No. 8 Eastern. Major Olympic American and SJ Group 4 seeding implications in that one.

5. Middle Township (4) 12-3
The Panthers' losses have been to Atlantic City, St. Augustine and St. Anthony of Jersey City, which have a combined record of 42-2. MT bounced back from tough OT loss to St. Augustine on Friday to beat rival Wildwood in a physical and emotional battle on Saturday night. The Panthers have a quiet week ahead with just LCM on schedule on Tuesday.

6. Shawnee (8) 12-2
Senior swingman Tristan Polnitz has averaged 17 points in a five-game winning streak. The Renegades are getting healthy at the right time. Busy but managable week ahead includes games with Washington Twp., Timber Creek -- in a rematch of a game that went OT earlier this season -- and Woodrow Wilson.

7. Paul VI (3) 12-2
Junior Jay Howard has scored 20 or more in four of the last five games. The Eagles had a bit of an off week, needing overtime to beat Camden and losing to Cherokee. They bounced back with a solid win Saturday night against dangerous Medford Tech at RV. PVI has Winslow Twp. Monday night, then five days to prepare for Saturday night game at Camden Catholic. That's the rematch of the Dec. 21 game in which CC players declined to shake hands with PVI coach Tony Devlin. Going to be a lot of atmosphere in CC gym before and during this one. Has there every been a pre-game introduction that has drawn more scrutiny? Hope the Irish just shake Devlin's hand and be done with it One other big thing about Saturday: It will be PVI junior Ivan Robinson's first game against CC, where he played his first two seasons. It was Robinson's decision to transfer to PVI that apparently is the source of the recent bad blood between the programs. Robinson wasn't eligible to play when the teams met in December.

8. Eastern (7) 10-3
Senior guard Devon Bell had 17 points, four steals and four assists in a 79-71 loss to No. 2 Paulsboro on Saturday night. Bell is the key for the Vikings. When he's at the top of his game, they are as good as anybody around. Senior forward Avery Walker and junior center Matt Klinewski have been pretty consistent. Bell has been a little mercurial. But there were stretches during that game Saturday night against Paulsboro when he looked like the best player on the floor.

9. Haddonfield (9) 15-1
Senior guard Billy Griffin has scored in double figures in every game except two -- and he had nine points in both of those games. Senior Chris Biddle has been a workhorse for this team, too. The Bulldogs have won eight in a row since that loss to Delsea and likely will earn the No. 1 seed in SJ 2. That means home games for a team that shoots well in its own unique gymnasium.

10. Bishop Eustace (NR) 11-3
Sophomore forwards Brandon Cazan and Conner McLaughlin combined for 14 points and eight rebounds in a 57-40 victory over then-No. 10 Wildwood Catholic. These guys looked great against WWC, which had won 13 in a row but was completely unprepared for BE's defensive pressure. Huge week for BE includes games against Camden, Cherry Hill East and Eastern.

Under consideration (listed alphbetically):

Camden Catholic (11-4): Man, the Top 10 seems crowded all of a sudden when the Irish can't find a spot despite a five-game winning streak that includes triumphs over Lenape, Camden and Penns Grove (which was 11-1 at the time). Senior Kyle Green has been remarkably consistent. Except for a 36-point game against Pleasantville, he's scored between 14 and 21 points in every game. Irish have dangerous Cherokee on Tuesday, WT on Thursday, then the rematch with PVI on Saturday night. Going to be tough to find a seat in the gym on that night.

Rancocas Valley (14-2): RV might have a better case for inclusion in the Top 10 than CC. The Red Devils have won nine in a row, beat Trenton Catholic twice and clocked a decent Sterling team on Saturday in the nightcap of the day-long Jeff Coney Classic. Big week includes games vs. Medford Tech, Burlington Twp. and red-hot Willingboro.

In the mix:

Burlington City (15-1): Senior guard Josh Young has averaged 19.4 in the last three games. These guys will be a big factor in CJ 1.

Pitman (14-2): The Panthers had a hiccup against Delsea but this team has been consistent all season. The likely No. 2 seed behind Paulsboro in SJ 1 but it's tough to tell for sure because the new power-point system can be a bit confusing to English majors.

Medford Tech (10-6): The Jaguars have a big game home Monday vs. RV.

Cherry Hill East (11-5): Even without senior Andrew Brown (SATs), the Cougars rallied for a big win in overtime over defending Group 2 state champ Ewing Saturday at RV. Hank Davis went for 20 and Jake Silpe and Austin Wetzler each scored 18. That's a lot of points from three guards.

Wildwood Catholic (13-2): The Crusaders simply weren't ready to deal with BE on Saturday at RV. But you could see the talent of juniors Ed McWade and Jordan Robertson in a strong second half.

Williamstown (10-6): The Braves are 6-2 in 2013 and lead the Tri-County Royal.

Cherry Hill West (9-5): The Lions have quietly won 6 of 7 (only loss to CH East on last-second shot) behind senior Will Plenty and junior Rodney Williams.

Holy Spirit (9-6): The Spartans have won three in a row after a four-game losing streak and should get a big boost from 51-50 win over Trenton Catholic on Saturday at RV on Paul Moore's driving layup at the buzzer.

Camden (7-6): The Panthers had a tough week with a 41-37 loss to CC and a 65-58 OT loss to PVI. Big game Tuesday vs. rival Bishop Eustace.

Hammonton (14-3): The Blue Devils have won six in a row and are developing other options to help leading scorer Christian Mortellite.

-- Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.

 

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About this blog
Born and raised in South Jersey, Phil Anastasia prefers standing on the sidelines at high school football games on Friday nights to sitting in the press box at Eagles games on Sunday afternoons. He’s a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in English. Reach Phil at panastasia@phillynews.com.

Phil Anastasia Inquirer Columnist
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