By Phil Anastasia
Here's the new Top 20 rankings in South Jersey boys' basketball:
(Last week's ranking in parentheses)
1. Holy Spirit (2) 9-1
The Spartans' lone loss was by 49-48 to Roman Catholic (10-2), which is ranked No. 2 in Southeastern Pa. by The Inquirer. The Spartans' new No. 1 ranking will be put to the test right away as they host No. 3 Atlantic City on Tuesday night in a renewal of one of South Jersey's rivalries.
2. Paul VI (1) 9-1
Senior forward Matt Risse has scored in double figures in every game. Senior point guard Ivan Robinson is likely to be out another two weeks, if not more, with a concussion. Senior guard DeVahnte Mosley has stepped into the point-guard role and played well in an impressive victory over No. 7 Eastern on Saturday. The Eagles responded well to their loss to Bishop Eustace on Thursday night, playing with passion and purpose against Eastern.
3. Atlantic City (3) 6-2
The Vikings are 36-0 against South Jersey opponents since an overtime loss to Paul VI in the Olympic Cape Classic on Feb. 12, 2012. Senior guard Isiah Graves is averaging 27.0 points in the last two games. Points likely will be tough to come by on Tuesday night at Holy Spirit but AC has become a program that flourishes in those type of games.
4. Haddonfield (4) 10-0
The Group 2 Bulldogs have beaten Group 4 opponents Rancocas Valley, Lenape and Cherry Hill West. They face a test Tuesday as they will play West Deptford at the Riverwinds Community Center. Junior guard Rob DePersia is averaging 15.0 and junior guard Nick DePersia is averaging 13.7. The Bulldogs got a lift this past week with the return of senior center Abby Bah, a starter as a junior who missed the first part of season with a hand injury.
5. Pitman (5) 10-1
The Panthers have won six in a row since the return from injury of senior guard Eric Stafford. Senior guard Darnell Foreman (17.8) has been the team's leading scorer in nine of 11 games. The Panthers have an interesting game Thursday against red-hot Delsea, which has won seven in a row.
6. Rancocas Valley (8) 9-2
The Red Devils are 29-3 since Jan. 1, 2013. They look to be getting on one of those runs like they did last season, when they won 20 in a row before losing in the CJ 4 tournament. Guys are settling into their roles. RV plays Paul VI Saturday at 7:15 in the nightcap of the 11-game Jeff Coney Classic at the Red Devils' complex.
7. Eastern (6) 9-1
Sophomore Maliq Sanders is averaging 14.6 in the last three games. He hit a couple 3s early Saturday to help the Vikings jump out to an 18-10 lead over Paul VI. Senior center Matt Klinewski finished with 31 points and 12 boards and ran the floor like a guard. No team runs the floor better than Paul VI and Klinewski was out of ahead of the Eagles' big men on numerous occasions. "He's one of my favorites," Paul VI coach Tony Devlin said of Klinewski.
8. Paulsboro (7) 9-1
Senior guard Cassius Carter was the Red Raiders' leading scorer last week with 31 points in two games. The Red Raiders made a point the other night, beating a Collingswood team that had been very competitive with Haddonfield by an 88-44 score. Paulsboro has not lost a Colonial Conference game since 2011. That's the kind of streak the school's wrestling program usually puts together.
9. Cherry Hill East (9) 10-1
Sophomore center Tim Perry has scored in double figures in four of the last five games. His emergence as well as the steady, heady play of senior forward Tommy Smierciak have been the keys to the Cougars' fast start. CHE is 2-0 in the Olympic American and faces a big test Thursday vs. Eastern. "We have great chemistry," senior guard Austin Wetzler said.
10. Camden (10) 8-2
The Panthers' two losses were to teams (Cherry Hill East and St. Anthony) with a combined record of 19-2. Sophomore Jamal Holloway put together a monster game Saturday against Woodrow Wilson with 30 points and 26 rebounds. For a guy who stands around 6-3 (maybe), Holloway is a great rebounder. He just has a knack for being around the basketball, and if he gets his hands on it, he usually holds on. Camden's home game with rival Camden Catholic has been switched from Thursday to Friday this week. Tip is 6:30.
11. Bishop Eustace (11) 7-3
Senior guard Flo DaSilva scored 25 in carrying the Crusaders to a 60-58 upset of then-No. 1 Paul VI on Thursday night. This is a tough team that proved it could beat anybody on a given night with that win over the Eagles. BE has a tough test Saturday at RV, facing Trenton Catholic and junior Malachi Richardson, a Syracuse recruit.
12. Delsea (18) 8-2
The Crusaders have won seven in a row and rained 3s in beating previously unbeaten Schalick on Thursday night. They face an interesting week with Penns Grove Monday and Pitman Thursday. A lot can happen between now and early March, but Delsea is looking like the favorite in SJ 3.
13. St. Augustine Prep (13) 9-1
The Hermits are 6-0 against New Jersey opponents. This team was supposed to be a year away from big thunder. But behind senior Brian Seward and sophomore Sa'eed Nelson and Mike Vasturia, they might be arriving early.
14. Schalick (13) 8-1
Senior center Rashaan Holloway has scored between 16 and 25 points in every game. The Cougars have an interesting test Monday at 3:15 vs. Wildwood Catholic at Paulsboro.
15. Wildwood Catholic (14) 7-3
The Crusaders have beefed up their schedule and this week is another example. They play Schalick Monday at Paulsboro and Haddonfield Saturday at RV.
16. Millville (19) 8-1
The Thunderbolts' lone loss was by 61-48 to No. 1 Holy Spirit. Senior guard Khaliq Ford has this team in the discussion in SJ 4.
17. Pemberton (17) 9-1
The Hornets could get a big lift from 6-7 Jean LeBrun, a transfer from Haiti who played in his first game Friday night.
18. Willingboro (NR) 7-3
The Chimeras have won four in a row. Don't count them out of the SJ 2 conversation.
19. Medford Tech (20) 6-4
Junior forward Dennis Tunstall is emerging as an interior force at both ends of the floor. Another SJ 2 contender. They are the defending champions.
20. Doane Academy (NR) 13-1
The Spartans' 68-58 win over Moorestown Saturday was their 13th in a row. They've beaten Northern Burlington, Westampton Tech, Burlington City and Moorestown -- all by double digits. Junior center Marcos Baez, who is 6-7, can run the floor and has good hands, is starting to generate some college recruiting interest.
Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Burlington City (7-3), Camden Catholic (6-4), Cherry Hill West (6-5), Cherokee (6-3), Penns Grove (5-2), St. Joseph (8-2).
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