By Phil Anastasia
Here's the new Top 20 rankings in South Jersey boys' basketball:
(Last week's ranking in parentheses)
1. Paul VI (1) 7-0
Senior swingman Jay Howard needs 20 points to reach 1,000 for his career. The Eagles' balance was on full display in a victory over Del-Val on Saturday night, as six players scored in double figures. Big game Saturday at home at 1 vs. No. 6 Eastern.
2. Holy Spirit (3) 7-1
Junior forward Jordan Taylor had 11 points and 8 rebounds in the second half of Saturday's 64-57 win over No. 7 Paulsboro at the first American Basketball Classic at St. Augustine. The Spartans jump a spot as they scored an impressive win despute the absence of junior guard John Middleton, who will be out for a week or so with a foot sprain. Senior forward Junior Saintel scored just 7 points but made a major impact with 10 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 assists. "He doesn't need to score to impact the game," HS coach Jamie Gillespie said of Saintel. "He alters shots, tips passes." Holy Spirit's lone loss looks a lot better today. The Spartans fell 58-57 to Roman Catholic at St. Augustine in a holiday tournament. Roman today beat Archbishop Carroll, which is No. 1 in The Inquirer's Southeastern Pa. rankings.
3. Atlantic City (2) 4-2
Junior forward Kevin Allen burst on the scene with 24 points in a win over Middle Township on Thursday. The Vikings could use the emergence of another consistent scorer. Their defense is a given.
4. Haddonfield (4) 8-0
Junior twins Nick DePersia (14.4 points per game) and Rob DePersia (14.2) have scored in double figures 15 times in 16 opportunities. This team is playing some serious defense, too, as the Haddons have held their last five opponents to 30, 43, 47, 35 and 35 points. Senior center Abby Bah, who has been out with a hand injury, could be back this week.
5. Pitman (6) 7-1
The Panthers have averaged 82 points in their last three games. Senior swingman Eric Stafford scored his 1,000th point Saturday vs. Clayton. Senior guard Darnell Foreman is leading this team in scoring with an 18.8 average. Junior forward Tim Delaney is averaging 16.0.
6. Eastern (8) 7-0
The Vikings are allowing just 40.7 points per game. That's a big shift from the last few seasons, when they were more of a team that tended to out-score opponents (although Avery Walker was a big-time shot-blocker). That sturdy defense and the emergence of senior guard Alex Barr has pushed this team high in the rankings. Barr scored the winning basket in a big win over then-No. 7 Camden Catholic, then scored 25, 18 and 18 in the Vikings' next three victories. Coach Joe Murphy believes that Barr and center Matt Klinewski, who scored his 1,00th career point on Thursday night, form one of South Jersey's best inside-outside duos.
7. Paulsboro (7) 7-1
The loss to No. 2 Holy Spirit Saturday was just the Red Raiders' second to a South Jersey team since the start of the 2011-2012 season. The other was to then-No. 1 Atlantic City at CH East last February. "No moral victories," Paulsboro coach Sean Collins said after the hard-fought, 64-57 loss to Holy Spirit. Still, Collins was pleased with his team's effort and competitiveness and rightly noted that Paulsboro must still be considered among the best teams in both SJ 1 and all of SJ.
8. Rancocas Valley (9) 7-2
Senior guard Vince Anfield has averaged 15.6 in the last three games. His emergence as a second scoring threat takes some of the pressure of senior center Nick Davidson, who is averaging 18.0. The Red Devils' defense is a constant. Big home game Thursday against fellow Burlco Liberty contender Moorestown.
9. Cherry Hill East (12) 7-1
Senior guard Austin Wetzler has scored 24 in two of the last three games. The Cougars jumped out in Olympic American play with a win over No. 15 Cherokee last week. Junior guard Jake Silpe is averaging 17.5 points.
10. Camden (13) 6-1
The Panthers rallied from a 40-32 halftime deficit to beat then-6-1 Manchester Twp. 68-61 on the road Saturday night. Camden rallied despite the absence of their second-leading scorer, sophomore forward Jamal Holloway, who fouled out early in the third quarter. Big game for junior Rasool Hinson, who scored 26. Camden visits national power St. Anthony of Jersey City on Tuesday.
11. Bishop Eustace (5) 6-2
Senior guard Flo DaSilva is averaing 11.7 points. Junior forward Brandon Cazan has averaged 20.0 in the last two games. The Crusaders showed their defensive prowess in holding Washington Township to 37 points on Thursday night.
12. Schalick (12) 6-0
Senior guard Melvin Allen, who is being recruited hard by Division III programs Cabrini and Stockton, scored his 1,000th career point on Thursday night. The Cougars are averaging 78 points per game.
13. St. Augustine (16) 6-1
The Hermits battled Montrose Christian in the nightcap of the American Basketball Classic Saturday in Rodio Gym -- which has one of the top five, and maybe top three, hospitality rooms in South Jersey. Senior Brian Seward led the way Saturday night with 25 points.
14. Wildwood Catholic (14) 5-3
The Crusaders were right there with Phelps School of Malvern, Pa., Saturday at St. Augustine. They might have won the game if they didn't struggle from the foul line. Seniors Jordan Robertson (17 points) and Eddie McWade (15) led the way, as usual. Senior center Clinton Freeman played well, too. Coach David DeWeese said WC is playing a challenging schedule this season in hopes of being "battled-tested" for the CAL and state tournaments.
15. Cherokee (15) 5-1
The Chiefs' offensive balance is starting to show as senior Kyle Kahriger, Kevin Wixted and Ben Handel have been complementing junior Paul Bellamy, who averages 16.8, in the scoring column.
16. Clearview (19) 7-0
The Pioneers were super-stingy on defense last week, allowing 39, 29 and 18 points in three victories.
17. Pemberton (20) 7-1
On a young team, senior forward Shaun Brooks has been a consistent scorer, with 21, 11, 15, 15 and 18 points in the last five games.
18. Delsea (NR) 5-2
The win over Archbishop Ryan at the Board 34 Showcase over the holidays at Lenape kick-started a four-game winning streak for the Crusaders. Junior forward Keith Braxton has scored in double figures in every game this season and is averaging 19.8.
19. Millville (NR) 5-1
Senior guard Khaliq Ford is averaging 22.0 points for a team that's only loss was by 61-48 to No. 2 Holy Spirit.
20. Medford Tech (NR) 4-3
Junior forward Dennis Tunstall has scored 15, 15 and 14 in the last three games. Med Tech has an interesting game Monday with a visit to Trenton Catholic, which features former Med Tech star Myles Powell.
Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Collingswood (6-1), Moorestown (5-2), Penns Grove (4-2), St. Joseph (5-2), Willingboro (6-3).
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