Some kids grow up dreaming about playing for a particular high school. Dominic Dunn was different.
Dunn, a junior forward, has been the catalyst of Camden Catholic's resurgence. He led the Irish to their biggest victory of the season Tuesday, scoring a game-high 18 points in a 58-47 triumph over previously undefeated Camden.
The 6-foot-4 Dunn is averaging 14.5 points. He has scored in double figures in every game except one for Camden Catholic (7-2), the No. 7 team in the Inquirer Top 25.
Against Camden, Dunn scored all nine of Camden Catholic's points in the first quarter on a trio of three-pointers - including a swish from the deep left corner at the 0:02 mark. He hit another shot from beyond the arc in the third quarter and also grabbed six rebounds.
"I love him," Camden coach John Valore said of Dunn. "He can shoot. You see the rotation. You see the soft spin of the ball. And you see it go in the net."
Camden Catholic coach Matt Crawford said Dunn has a "scorer's mentality" and is a "great teammate."
Dunn's athletic career at Camden Catholic got off to a rough start. He suffered a broken leg playing goalie for the soccer team in the fall of his freshman year and wasn't recovered in time for basketball season.
As a sophomore, Dunn was a starter and steady contributor for the Irish. But Crawford said Dunn and then-freshman Baba Ajike "took their lumps" as young frontcourt players on a team that struggled after a season-ending injury to senior point guard Jamal Parker.
The Irish's return to South Jersey prominence was clear on Tuesday as they used their patented patient offense and a sticky matchup defense to frustrate a Camden team that entered the game averaging 80.8 points and was No. 2 in the rankings.
The Panthers scored just five in the first quarter and 11 in the first half.
"This was huge," Dunn said of the victory. "We knew we could control the tempo. We practice it every day."
It was a familiar scene for veteran followers of Camden Catholic basketball: The Irish spreading the floor and controlling the pace in the big game against a quality opponent.
But Dunn isn't among that legion of longtime followers of the prestigious program.
"To be honest, before I was in eighth grade I didn't even know anything about Camden Catholic basketball," said Dunn, who lives in Haddon Township and attended Rohrer Middle School. "I came to a couple games when they were playing Paul VI and Bishop Eustace and the place was packed and I was like, 'Wow, I would love to play here.'
"The more I learned about this school and this team, the more I wanted to be here. It's a family atmosphere."
Dunn said he sat on the sideline as a freshman during Camden Catholic's victory at Camden that season.
"I remember watching that game and thinking, 'I want to be part of something like that,' " Dunn said.
Two years later, Dunn was leading the Irish to a similar victory.