With the goal of toughening his team for the postseason, Camden boys’ basketball coach John Valore is taking on several top-flight opponents in showcase events this season.
Westtown School certainly qualifies, as it boasts one of the country’s top performers in 6-foot-7 wing and Duke recruit Cameron Reddish and Indiana-bound forward Jake Forrester.
The Panthers, ranked No. 1 in South Jersey by the Inquirer, crossed the river to take on the Moose in the 11th annual Kobe Bryant Boosters Philly.com Play-By-Play Classic on Saturday afternoon. The highly anticipated contest before a packed crowd proved to be more than worth the price of admission.
Corey Greer buried a buzzer-beating three-pointer from the right wing in overtime, as Camden nipped Westtown, 74-71, in a thriller at Lower Merion’s Kobe Bryant Gymnasium. The Moose arrived as the No. 3-ranked squad in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
“It felt good coming out of my hands,” the soft-spoken senior guard said. “I was just worried about the ball going in before time ran out.”
Greer’s winner came after he made a steal, hurried the ball up the court, and fumbled with it before his release. “If the ball is in Corey’s hands, I guarantee you he’s taking the final shot,” Valore said with a laugh.
Behind 6-6 senior Myles Thompson, the Panthers (8-1) rallied from a 45-33 halftime deficit. The St. Francis (Pa.) recruit totaled a game-high 26 points, including five treys, seven rebounds, and three assists.
Greer, who missed most of last season with a torn left anterior cruciate ligament, hit three treys on the way to 11 points. The 6-foot, 180-pounder added five assists and three rebounds.
Of Thompson, Greer said, “He’s like my brother. We’ve been playing basketball together since the seventh or eighth grade.”
Reddish, who is the No. 3-ranked player in the class of 2018 by ESPN, netted 20 of his 25 points in the first half. The McDonald’s All-American shot 7 for 11 from the field (3 for 4 from beyond the arc) before the break.
“He was making a lot of tough shots in the first half,” Greer said. “In the second half, those same shots weren’t falling for him.”
Senior guard Saleem Brown and Lance Ware, a 6-8 sophomore and transfer from Life Center Academy in Burlington County, each contributed 14 points to Camden’s dramatic triumph. Ware grabbed 13 boards before fouling out with 1:25 in overtime.
The 6-8 Forrester managed 12 points and seven boards for the 15-9 Moose; point guard T.J. Berger hit four first-half treys en route to 16 points; and 6-8 wing Noah Collier posted 11 points and nine caroms.
“In the second half, we were careless with the ball and made bad decisions,” Westtown coach Seth Berger said. “Also, we didn’t execute down the stretch.”
Camden 20 13 23 11 7 – 74
Westtown 25 20 13 9 4 – 71
C: Corey Greer 11, Lance Ware 14, Myles Thompson 26, Nasim Hinson 9, Saleem Brown 14.
W: T.J. Berger 16, Jalen Gaffney 7, Jake Forrester 12, Noah Collier 11, Cameron Reddish 25.