Friday, December 26, 2014

Basketball: New Top 20

Basketball: New Top 20

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By Phil Anastasia

Haddonfield's undefeated season is looking better and better all the time.

That's because there isn't another South Jersey team out there with zero losses . . . or one loss . . . or two losses.

Paul VI, St. Augustine and Schalick each have three losses. That's impressive but it also underscores just how consistently well Haddonfield has played this season.

Here are the new rankings, just six days after the old rankings. Last week's ranking in parentheses:

1. Haddonfield (1) 23-0

Haddonfield is the only undefeated team in the state. The Bulldogs have allowed an average of 35.4 points in their last five games. Some of that is skewed by that 81-16 win over Gateway on Thursday. (Think that's bad? I saw the tail end of a 94-16 result in a JV game the other day. And it wasn't that close -- they had a running clock in the fourth, and the losing team hit a '3" at the buzzer.) But the Bulldogs have played terrific defense all season. The DePersia twins, Nick and Rob, pressure the ball over all the court, everybody gets out in passing lanes and they are tough to beat off the dribble because they are so athletic and committed to the cause.

2. Paul VI (2) 18-3

The Eagles surely had a nice ride home from Atlantic City Saturday afternoon after rallying from a 12-point deficit to beat AC by 64-56. That was a great win for a team that looked out of sorts at times in a loss to St. Anthony, a victory over CH East and a loss to Bishop Eustace. Jay Howard scored 21 in the win over AC. But by coming back against a good AC team on the road, PVI should enter the last week of the regular season with confidence and momentum. The Eagles can clinch a share of the Olympic National title with a win over Camden at home Tuesday night.

3. Eastern (5) 21-4

The Vikings have won 10 of 11 and the loss was a tough one to St. Augustine at CH East when star centrer Matt Klinewski, who already had 29 points, fouled out on a tough call off the ball with around 2:30 to play. Senior guard Alex Barr is one of South Jersey's hottest players and is making a push for All-South Jersey honors. Barr has 27, 14, 28, 26 and 32 points in his last five games. He scored the last nine points of the game as Eastern rallied for a 54-47 win over CH East Thursday to capture the Olympic American title.

4. St. Augustine Prep (3) 20-3

The Hermits won at Pitman on Thursday but then squandered a big lead in a loss to Millville on Friday. As the No. 2 seed in CAL tournament, St. Augustine hosts No. 7 Mainland in the first round, then could see 3 seed Atlantic City in the semifinals Thursday night at Hammonton. Sophomore guard Sa'eed Nelson is emerging as a big-time player. He scored 22 and made a huge '3' late in the win at Pitman. He's going to be a high D-1 recruit if he grows two inches and adds 20 pounds.

5. Wildwood Catholic (7) 19-4

Senior forward Eddie McWade is finding his scoring touch with 24 and 21 points in the last two games. His season average is up to 15.3. Senior guard Jordan Robertson is averaging 18.7. The Crusaders are 14-1 since a hard-fought loss to Phelps of Malvern (Pa.) at the American Basketball Classic at St. Augustine Jan. 11. WC is the 4 seed in the CAL tournament. The Crusaders host No. 5 Millville in a great first-round game Monday night, with the winner likely to see No. 1 seed Holy Spirit Thursday night at Hammonton.

6. Holy Spirit (10) 17-5

The Spartans move up after knocking off Atlantic City to capture both the CAL American title and also the No. 1 seed in the CAL tournament. Sophomore guard Leon Daniels and junior forward Jordan Taylor both went for 18 in a 61-55 win over AC. Holy Spirit beat Millville twice but lost to Wildwood Catholic in the regular season so the Spartans probably would prefer a chance to turn the tables on the Crusaders in the semifinals Thursday night at Hammonton -- assuming they handle No. 8 Oakcrest in Monday's opener.

7. Atlantic City (4) 16-6

It's tough to get a good read on the Vikings. In the last three weeks, they've split with Holy Spirit, beaten Millville twice, beaten Rancocas Valley and lost to Vineland and St. Augustine Prep. They are a dangerous No. 3 seed in the CAL tournament this week -- with a likely rematch with the Prep on Thursday night -- and a dangerous No. 2 seed in the SJ 4 tournament. But they've been inconsistent enough to have coach Gene Allen worried about his team's ability to shine in post-season play the way they have the last two years.

8. Bishop Eustace (8) 17-7

The Crusaders looked terrific in pulling away from Paul VI in the second half Thursday night, with great work from junior center Brandon Cazan and senior guard Flo DaSilva among others. BE clinched at least a share of the Olympic National title the next night with a win over Woodrow Wilson. Coach Bob Falconiero thinks it might be the program's first division title since the 1990s. BE has some impressive wins, starting with two over PVI. The Crusaders also have some puzzling losses. Just two nights before they beat PVI for the second time, they lost to CH West. This could be a dangerous team in South A as the Crusaders seem to play their best in big games.

9. Rancocas Valley (6) 18-5

The Red Devils played just once in a quiet week, beating Medford Tech on Friday night. Like Atlantic City, Rancocas Valley is a tough team to read. The Red Devils have looked good for long stretches but they throw in enough subpar quarters to leave veteran coach Jay Flanagan shaking his head. Senior center Nick Davidson has been pretty consistent and senior guard Vince Anfield appears to have picked up his game in recent weeks, too.

10. Schalick (9) 20-3

The Cougars drop a spot through no fault of their own; Holy Spirit jumped ahead by virtue of its division-clinching win over AC. Schalick is 10-0 with senior center Rashaan Holloway in the lineup since a loss to Wildwood Catholic at Paulsboro on Jan. 20. The Cougars have scored 83, 67, 83, 81 and 83 points in their last five games. They've broken 80 points 11 times this season, more than any other team.

11. Camden Catholic (11) 17-6

The Irish have won 13 of 15 since that loss to Kingsway on Jan. 11. They've split with BE, swept Camden and manhandled both Medford Tech and Delsea.

12. Millville (15) 17-4

The Thunderbolts' four losses are easy to remember -- two to Holy Spirit and two to Atlantic City. That win over St. Augustine Prep on Friday was a reminder that this team bears watching in both the CAL tourney and in SJ 4.

13. Pitman (13) 17-6

The Panthers don't really have any "bad" losses as they've fallen to Penns Grove (that's the closest), Schalick, RV, Camden, St. Augustine Prep and Eastern. But they really don't have a signature win, either.

14. Paulsboro (14) 19-4

Theo Holloway with a late hoop lifted Paulsboro over rival Woodbury 52-50 Friday night and clinched the Red Raiders' fifth straight Colonial Patriot title. These guys have won six in a row and eight of nine.

15. Camden (12) 15-8

Camden doesn't have a "bad" loss, either. But they have eight of them -- to CH East, St. Anthony, Eastern, PVI, BE, AC and twice to CC. Best wins were over BE and Pitman.

16. Pemberton (17) 18-3

The Hornets probably played their worst game of the season in a 75-60 loss to Delsea on Saturday. But there was good news in there as 6-7 sophomore Jean LeBrun --  a transfer from Haiti who "couldn't dribble the ball at the start of the season," according to coach Roy Heck -- had 12 rebounds, 9 points and 3 blocks in about 20 minutes. Remember that name. Pemberton can capture the Burlco Patriot title by winning out this week, including a showdown with red-hot Willingboro Tuesday.

17. Willingboro (NR) 15-6

The Chimeras have won five in a row. They beat Medford Tech by 85-55 on Tuesday night. If they beat Pemberton on Tuesday, there could be a three-way tie with the Burlco Patriot title with those two and Medford Tech.

18. Cherry Hill East (18) 16-7

The Cougars were 0-2 last week but their week included games at No. 2 Paul VI and No. 3 Eastern. How many teams wouldn't have gone 0-2? Eastern coaches were raving about junior guard Jake Silpe after Thursday's game.

19. West Deptford (NR) 20-4

The Eagles have won eight in a row and 13 of 14. Including in that stretch was a win over Paulsboro.

20. Doane Academy (19) 20-2

The Spartans' loss to Montclair Kimberley on Monday was their first since opening night against St. Anthony.

Under consideration (listed alphabetically): Collingswood (15-7), Delsea (15-8), Mainland (14-9), Medford Tech (16-9), Penns Grove (15-5), Williamstown (14-9).

-- Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com

-- Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter

 

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About this blog
Born and raised in South Jersey, Phil Anastasia prefers standing on the sidelines at high school football games on Friday nights to sitting in the press box at Eagles games on Sunday afternoons. He’s a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in English. Reach Phil at panastasia@phillynews.com.

Phil Anastasia Inquirer Columnist
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