Basketball: New Top 10
Basketball: New Top 10
By Phil Anastasia
Here's the new Top 10, as of Sunday, Feb. 3, with previous ranking in parentheses:
1. Atlantic City (1) 15-1
The Vikings' 47-45 victory over No. 3 St. Augustine Friday night was another example of their two-year-old knack for winning low-scoring, close games. Junior forward Dennis White made a layup at 0:04 to cap a wild sequence and secure the victory for the Vikings. AC could see SAP again in Cape Atlantic League tournament, which has a chance to be terrific again this season with three of SJ's top 5 teams. Wish other leagues would copy the CAL's format.
2. Paulsboro (2) 17-0
Senior center Julien Davenport has scored 20 or more points four times in the last eight games. The Red Raiders face a major challenge against No. 4 Lenape Saturday at 6:30 at Bishop Eustace. It's a classic clash of contrasts: Colonial vs. Olympic, Group 1 vs. Group 4, fast-paced team against team that likes to control tempo and dictate pace with patient offense. Should help both teams get ready for respective tournaments.
3. St. Augustine (3) 15-2
The Hermits project as the likely No. 3 seed in the loaded South A tournament field. SAP was right there against No. 1 AC, with a lead in the second quarter and the ball in a tied game in the final seconds. Coach Paul Rodio has 773 career wins. Barring an upset, he will have a chance to break former Camden coach Clarence Turner's SJ record of 775 on Saturday night at 7:30 in the Olympic Cape Challenge against . . . Camden. How fitting is that?
4. Lenape (6) 17-1
The Indians are 9-0 in games decided by six points or fewer. Seniors Kendall Green and Tabu Gaither have been picking up their scoring in recent games for Lenape. Veteran coach Chuck Guittar has talked about his team hitting a February "lull" in the past because of the demands of the schedule as well as his coaching style. These Indians haven't hit it yet and maybe they never will. Big game Saturday at BE against Paulsboro. Lenape wants score in 40s, Paulsboro wants score in 70s. Something has to give.
5. Middle Township (5) 14-3
The Panthers look like the No. 2 seed in South Jersey Group 2, behind projected No. 1 seed Haddonfield. Senior guard Tom Feraco, the son of the coach of the same name, has picked up his scoring in recent games. If form holds, Middle would get Medford Tech at home in semis in SJ Group 2. Middle won at Medford Tech on Tom Catanoso's circus shot in last year's SJ tourney. Middle has interesting game Saturday afternoon at Olympic Cape Challenge at SAP against No. 7 Camden Catholic.
6. Shawnee (6) 15-2
The Renegades have held opponents to an average of 43.8 points in an eight-game winning streak. Solid scoring from seniors Josh Borrelli and Tristan Polnitz continues to spark Shawnee. This team is getting healthy, too, as senior Jake Dean and sophomore Alec Warren have returned to the floor after missing time earlier this season with injuries.
7. Camden Catholic (NR) 14-4
The Irish are 13-2 since Dec. 21 and the two losses have been by a total of three points. They've won nine in a row and beaten teams such as Lenape and Paul VI in that streak. Great work Saturday night in 50-42 win over PVI by junior guards Rob Brosh and Tom Organ. CC's transition defense was great, too as PVI got little in the open floor and was forced to operate in half-court offense for most of the night. Sophomore center Brendan Crawford scored game-high 19, and 14 of them must have come on open layups off sweet feeds from teammates. It also was a good sign that CC could win a big game with leading scorer Kyle Green contributing just eight points, although Green also grabbed nine boards and PVI's defensive attention on him probably helped create room for Crawford.
8. Eastern (8) 12-4
Junior Alec Walker's layup at the buzzer gave the short-handed Vikings a 55-54 victory over Bishop Eustace on Saturday. Eastern was missing Avery Walker (concussion symptoms), Nick Tierno (knee) and Tom Flacco (Super Bowl), three of their top eight players. Good work by JV guys and veterans Matt Klinewski and Devon Bell made a bunch of big plays in an intense fourth quarter at BE.
9. Paul VI (7) 14-3
The Eagles could meet rival Camden Catholic again in South A tournament as the teams project as the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds. The Eagles struggled with their defensive rotations on Saturday as CC center Brendan Crawford must have made seven open layups after his man left him to help against dribble penetration. Junior forward Matt Risse, who has been hampered a bit with a foot injury this season, looked sharp on Saturday, leading the Eagles with 15 points, including 10 as PVI tried to rally in the fourth quarter.
10. Haddonfield (9) 17-1
Sophomore guard Nick DePersia has scored in double figures in five of the last six games. Haddonfield has won 10 in a row since that Jan. 5 loss to Delsea. They face a tough test outside the Colonial Conference on Saturday at Bishop Eustace.
Under consideration (listed alphbetically):
Rancocas Valley (17-2): Red Devils have won 12 in a row and have been getting great work from sophomore guard Ned Ogoemesim and junior forward Nick Davidson. RV is a real threat in CJ 4 although East Brunswick is a state power with a pair of wins over South A favorite St. Joseph's Metuchen.
In the mix:
Bishop Eustace (11-6): Saturday's 55-54 loss to Eastern was excruciating for the Crusaders. They had Eastern's Matt Klinewski trapped under the backboard as the clock ticked down, but his pass was tipped, went through a BE player's legs and was picked up by Eastern's Alec Walker, who made a layup at the buzzer. It was BE's second straight one-pont loss. Tough week ahead with Camden Catholic, Paul VI and Haddonfield.
Burlington City (18-1): Senior guard Josh Young has scored 20, 11, 22, 14, 24 and 20 points in the Blue Devils' last six games, all victories.
Wildwood Catholic (14-3): Junior Ed McWade scored 48 in two games this past week. WC projects as No. 3 seed in South B field that includes state powers Patrick School and Bergen Catholic.
Medford Tech (11-7): Jaguars host national power St. Anthony of Jersey City on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
Holy Spirit (12-6): The Spartans have won six in a row as senior guard Paul Moore has scored in double figures in every game and averaged 17.6 points.
Camden (11-6): The Panthers have won four in a row and loom as the team to beat in the wide-open SJ 3 tournament. Senior Amir Maddred has scored in double figures in nine straight games.
Pitman (16-2): The Panthers project as the No. 2 seed in SJ 1 behind Paulsboro. They scored an impressive 54-42 win over Penns Grove on Tuesday. PG had beaten Pitman 59-54 on Dec. 20.
Cherry Hill East (14-5): The Cougars have won four in a row as sophomore Jake Silpe has scored in double figures in every game. CHE projects as No. 6 seed in SJ 4 and could see projected No. 3 Shawnee in second round.
-- Contact Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.