It was a basketball senior's version of following the poet's admonition to rage against the dying of the light.

Playing in the final quarter of his career, Camden Catholic's Dominic Dunn rallied his team to the brink of a remarkable victory.

In the end, Don Bosco Prep pulled away late for a 61-54 win over Camden Catholic in the Non-Public A state championship game Saturday at Toms River North High School.

But the green-clad fans who walked out of the RWJ Barnabas Health Arena were no doubt buzzing about the Irish's fight to the final horn and Dunn's play in the course of a dramatic comeback.

"Everybody that was up here to support us walks away proud," Camden Catholic coach Matt Crawford said.

Dunn finished with 18 points and junior Baba Ajike added 16 for Camden Catholic (23-7), which won the Non-Public South A championship for the first time since 2010.

Marcellus Earlington, a burly St. John's recruit, scored 24 points and Rutgers recruit Ron Harper added 14 with six assists for Don Bosco Prep (28-2), which won its second straight state title.

Junior swingman Owen McGlashan, who played his first two seasons at Cherokee, added six points with three rebounds and three assists for the Ironmen, who are likely to earn a top-two seed in the Tournament of Champions.

"We honestly thought we were going to win the game," said Dunn, his eyes red from an emotional postgame scene in the Camden Catholic locker room. "We watched them on film and we thought we were the better team."

Dunn said he was proud of his team's drive to the program's first sectional title in eight years but still felt the Irish fell short of their potential.

"We talked about it since the spring," Dunn said. "We were going to win a state championship. Every single practice, we talked about it and we believed it."

Camden Catholic’s Dominic Dunn dribbles past Don Bosco Prep’s s Matt Herasme in second half of NP A state final
Sydney Schaefer/Staff photographer
Camden Catholic’s Dominic Dunn dribbles past Don Bosco Prep’s s Matt Herasme in second half of NP A state final

With Earlington and Harper scoring inside and out, Don Bosco Prep built a 26-10 lead midway through the second quarter and took a 27-16 advantage into the locker room at halftime.

"They had that run in the second quarter, but I knew we were going to get it going," Dunn said.

Ajike scored eight straight points for the Irish to open the third quarter. He made two conventional three-point plays in the surge.

When junior Uche Okafor scored inside, Camden Catholic had cut Don Bosco's lead to 32-26.

"Baba and Dominic just took over," in the second half, Crawford said.

Don Bosco answered with a run at the end of the third quarter for a 42-30 lead. When McGlashan threw down a dunk on a break early in the fourth quarter and Earlington made a free throw, it was 49-34.

That's when Dunn took over. He led Camden Catholic on a 15-2 run that brought the Irish fans to their feet time and again with a deep three-pointer, a pair of free throws, another three-pointer and a conventional three-point play that cut Don Bosco's lead to 51-49 with 2 minutes, 34 seconds to play.

"We were one call, one one-and-one from taking it to overtime and potentially winning it," Dunn said.

Don Bosco survived thanks to some clutch free-throw shooting, as Matt Herasme made a pair for a 53-49 lead and Earlington made a pair for a 55-49 lead.

Dunn's last shot, a step-back three-point attempt from deep on the left side, hit off the backboard and fell away.

"He was tremendous," Crawford said of Dunn. "He played like a senior who didn't want this to end."

Don Bosco Prep 12 15 15 19 – 61

Camden Catholic 8 8 14 24 – 54

DB: Marcellus Earlington 24, Mike Concannon 5, Matt Herasme 10, Vicxtor Konapka 2, Ronald Harper 14, Owen McGlashan 6.

CC: Baba Ajike 16, Uche Okafor 2, Dominic Dunn 10, Pat Corbett 11, Hakim Melvin 7.