By Phil Anastasia
Camden Catholic has been inching up the rankings for the last month.
The Irish move from No. 10 to No. 7 this week, as they've won eight of nine with the only loss to No. 1 Paul VI.
Bishop Eustace jumps into the Top 10 at No. 9, thanks to a recent surge that has included victories over Eastern, Cherry Hill East and Camden and an overtime loss Saturday night to No. 2 Haddonfield.
Holy Spirit is another big mover, as the Spartans return to the Top 10 at No. 8, thanks to a gritty victory over No. 4 St. Augustine Prep before a capacity crowd in the Hermits' gymnasium at the Shoot Down Cancer Classic on Saturday.
Here's the new Top 20, with last week's rankings in parentheses:
1. Paul VI (1) 15-1
Senior forward Jair Green's thunderous dunk was the exclamation point on the Eagles' 61-49 victory over a good Albany (N.Y.) Academy team Saturday at the Tri-State Showcase at Bishop Eustace. PVI played strong defense and got balanced offensive production with four guys in double figures. The only starter not in double figures was leading scorer Jay Howard, who seemed to be laboring a bit on his sore left ankle. The Eagles might be considering holding Howard out of Tuesday's game vs. Woodrow Wilson, as their late-week schedule includes a big division game with Bishop Eustace Thursday and then a battle with St. Anthony of Jersey City Sunday at Cherry Hill East.
2. Haddonfield (2) 18-0
The Bulldogs are have been the last undefeated team in South Jersey for three weeks. They found a way to beat a confident Bishop Eustace team in overtime on the Crusaders' court before a near-capacity crowd in the finale of the two-day Tri-State Classic Saturday. Junior guards Rob and Nick Depersia continue to lead the way for Haddonfield. Rob is averaing 14.4 and Nick, 13.2. The Bulldogs also are getting strong work from junior Jake Robinson and senior Teddy Stavetski, with sophomore Tommy Kadar providing a spark off the bench.
3. Atlantic City (4) 11-3
The Vikings got 16 points each from senior forward Dennis White and junior forward Kevin Allen in a 57-53 win over Camden at the Shoot Down Cancer Classic Saturday at St. Augustine. AC's defense remains a constant, as the Vikings have allowed just two teams to score 60 or more points (Newark Tech with 63, and St. Augustine with 60). AC has an interesting battle with Rancocas Valley Sunday at CH East and the teams could meet again in the SJ 4 tournament.
4. St. Augustine (3) 15-2
Sophomore Mike Vasturia has scored in double figures in three straight games. The Hermits drop a notch after a 47-44 loss to Holy Spirit on Saturday. But games such as that one, before a packed house in the Shoot Down Cancer Classic, have big value for a young team that relies heavily on sophomores such as Vasturia and Sa'eed Nelson and freshman Justyn Mutts. The Prep has a big game Sunday at 11 a.m. vs. Eastern at CH East.
5. Eastern (6) 16-3
The Vikings played a sensational second half in pulling away from a Rashaan Holloway-less Schalick on Saturday at Bishop Eustace. Matt Klinewski was his typical self with 22 points and 12 boards. But the key was the production of other players, especially with senior guard Alex Barr missing more than half of the game to take a college-placement test. Eastern got strong work from junior guard Logan Edwards, senior guard Tom Flacco and sophomore swingman Maliq Sanders, and frosh Darren Gibson played well off the bench. Eastern came back a day later and held off a late charge by St. Joseph in a 59-54 win at the Shoot Down Cancer Classic at St. Augustine.
6. Rancocas Valley (7) 14-4
The Red Devils battled for 36 minutes in an overtime victory over Pitman on Saturday at Bishop Eustace. Senior center Nick Davidson played extremely well in a battle with Pitman junior Tim Delaney. "I wanted to show I could compete," Davidson said after scoring 23, including six in OT. Junior Darius Dooley came through with some key plays for RV. The Red Devils should get a big boost on Saturday with the return of junior guard Shaun Ellis-Bradley, probably their best athlete and defender. He's been out all season with a knee injury.
7. Camden Catholic (10) 12-5
Behind senior guards Rob Brosh and Tom Organ, the Irish have won eight of nine and the only loss was on the road to No. 1 Paul VI. Juniors Brendan Crawford and Courtney Cubbage as well as senior Jake Johnson also are making plays on a regular basis. It's water under the bridge but imagine this team if 6-9 junior Demola Onifade, who is out for the year with a shoulder injury, was healthy and made the improvement that seemed likely at the start of the season. CC has a huge game at home Tuesday night vs. Bishop Eustace, then meets Medford Tech on Sunday at Cherry Hill East.
8. Holy Spirit (13) 13-4
The Spartans can beat anybody in South Jersey on any given night. They are coming off a good week, with wins over Millville and St. Augustine Prep -- teams that were a combined 27-2 at the time. Senior swingman Junior Saintel is averaging 14.9 points. Holy Spirit will meet No. 2 Haddonfield on Saturday at CH East.
9. Bishop Eustace (15) 12-6
The Crusaders are getting strong work from juniors Brandon Cazan and Connor McLaughlin as well as senior Flo DaSilva. BE beat Olympic American Top 10 teams Eastern and CH East in the last two weeks, and took No. 2 Haddonfield to the brink on Saturday night. The Crusaders have a huge week ahead of them, with No. 7 Camden Catholic on Tuesday and No. 1 Paul VI on Thursday. With two wins, they can claim at least a share of the Olympic National Division title, assuming they also beat Woodrow Wilson.
10. Schalick (8) 15-3
Senior center Rashaan Holloway said Saturday that he should be back on Thursday. Holloway, a 6-9 Massachusetts recruit, has been out since suffered an elbow/foreman injury on Tuesday against Triton. His younger brother, 6-6 junior Mike Holloway, has picked up his game in recent weeks for the team that projects as the No. 1 seed in a loaded SJ Group 1 field.
11. Pitman (9) 15-3
The Panthers played hard for 36 minutes in a 56-49 overtime loss to Rancocas Valley Saturday at Bishop Eustace. In all three of Pitman's losses, the Panthers have led in the second half. But let's not minimize the impact of the absence of senior swingman Eric Stafford, who has been out for two weeks with an ankle injury. Stafford, a Lafayette recruit, is Pitman's most versatile player and best decision-maker. The Panthers will be a different team when he returns to the court.
12. Wildwood Catholic (12) 14-4
Seniors Jordan Robertson (18.8 points per game) and Eddie McWade (14.6) are 1,000-point scorers who continue to lead the Crusaders through one of the most dificult schedules in the history of the program. Wildwood Catholic ground out a 31-25 victory over Cherokee at the SDCC at St. Augustine on Sunday.
13.Millville (17) 13-2
The Thunderbolts made a bit of a statement with a 13-point win over Cherry Hill East Saturday at the Shoot Down Cancer Classic. Senior guard Khaliq Ford led the way, as usual, with 23 points. This is a team to watch in the CAL tournament and in SJ 4, too.
14. Paulsboro (11) 14-4
The Red Raiders looked good in handling Lenape Saturday at Bishop Eustace. Junior Saleem Little led the way along with senior guard Keenan Williams.
15. Cherry Hill East (5) 15-4
The Cougars have dropped three in a row. They face rival CH West Saturday at the CH East Invitational.
16. Camden (14) 11-7
The Panthers are 1-3 since the return of senior guard Tavaris Headen but all three losses have been to good teams -- Paul VI, Bishop Eustace and Atlantic City. Camden plays Pitman Saturday at CH East.
17. Medford Tech (16) 13-5
The Jaguars play Camden Catholic Sunday at CH East.
18. Pemberton (18) 14-2
Senior swingman Shaun Brooks is averaging 20.4 for the season.
19. Doane Academy (20) 19-1
The Spartans have won 19 in a row since a loss to St. Anthony of Jersey City on opening night.
20. Penns Grove (19) 12-4
Seniors Tristan Lloyd (18.3) and LaQwin Stewart (17.0) are a 1-2 scoring punch for the Red Devils.
Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Cherokee (11-6), Delsea (12-6), St. Joseph (12-5), West Deptford (15-4).
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