By Phil Anastasia
Nick Davidson thinks the key to Rancocas Valley's remarkable run has been shot selection.
"When there's an open shot, there's always a better open shot," said Davidson, a junior center.
That's another way of saying that the Red Devils have won 15 in a row, improved their record to 20-2 and stamped themselves as one of South Jersey's surprise teams of the season because of their unselfishness.
Coach Jay Flanagan doesn't disagree.
"Our guys are believing in each other," Flanagan said after a 52-46 victory over Williamstown on Saturday at the Tri-State Showcase at Bishop Eustace. "Our chemistry is a lot stronger than it was."
Rancocas Valley's defense and depth have been factors, as Flanagan regularly uses eight or nine players. Sophomore guard Ned Ogoemesim has been a consistent scorer, with a 16.6-point average during the winning streak.
But perhaps the biggest key has been the emergence of Davidson, a 6-5, 210-pound athlete who has given the Red Devils a dependable presence in the post. Davidson has averaged 15.7 points in the last seven games, and went for 21 in a big win over Medford Tech on Jan. 28.
"Every since the Med Tech game, I've been playing with a lot more confidence," Davidson said.
Rancocas Valley will be the No. 3 seed in the Central Jersey Group 4 tournament. The Red Devils will have a tough road to the state semifinals, as they likely will need to beat No. 2 seed Hillsborough and top seed East Brunswick on the road.
"Our effort has usually been really good," Flanagan said. "The guys have been playing defense and they've been winning a lot of games, so that builds a lot of confidence."
Paul VI junior swingman Jay Howard has scored 20 or more nine times and was averaging 19.1 points through Saturday.
Paul VI coach Tony Devlin believes Howard is emerging as one of the best players in South Jersey.
"Last year he was a role player on a very good team," Devlin said. "This year, he's stepped into another role. He's really worked on his perimeter game."
The 6-2 Howard said he worked hard during the off-season on his ball-handling and outside shooting. He's still at his best slashing to the basket, but he's also developed as a three-point threat this season.
"I've been trying to step up and help the team anyway I can," Howard said.
Pitman is 18-3 after a 53-45 loss to No. 9 Haddonfield on Saturday.
The Panthers don't have a senior in the starting lineup. Coach Kevin Crawford believes the Panthers' youth has shown up at times this season.
"I think we should be 21-0 but that's high school basketball, that's high school sports, that's high school kids," Crawford said.
Pitman's play revolves around 6-8 sophomore Tim Delaney, their top scorer, rebounder and shot blocker.
Crawford said Delaney on Friday received his sixth scholarship offer. This one was from Oregon State, which is coached by Craig Robinson , the brother of First Lady Michelle Obama.
Former Haddonfield star Doug Stewart is an assistant at Oregon State.
This and that.
Sterling (15-6) has won six in a row and Matt Callan has scored 46 points in last two games . . . Camden (12-7) is 8-3 since that loss to St. Anthony Dec. 30 in Wildwood, and Amir Maddred has scored in double figures in all 11 games . . . Burlington City (19-1) has won seven in a row as Josh Young has averaged 18.5 points . . . Cherry Hill East (17-5) has won seven in a row for the second time this season. Hank Davis is averaging 15.2 points in the latest run.
Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.