For Isaiah Sanders, playing against Maurice Murray will be nothing new.
Same goes for Murray playing against Sanders.
“At practice, Coach Rich [Bolds] would match us up against one another, and it would always be a dogfight,” Sanders says.
But there will be something special about the 41st annual Albert J. Carino Basketball Club of South Jersey all-star game, Sunday at Rutgers-Camden, for the Timber Creek seniors.
For one thing, Sanders and Murray will be playing in their last high school basketball game.
For another, the teammates will find themselves on opposite squads — Sanders will represent the Blue team, and Murray will play for the White team, at the annual showcase of South Jersey’s top seniors.
“Playing against my teammate, Isaiah, in the all-star game will be a fun experience,” Murray said Tuesday. “With me and Isaiah being so close, we’ll definitely be going at each other.”
Camden and Eastern also will each have two players competing in the game. But the Panthers’ Corey Greer and Myles Thompson and the Vikings’ Jesse Barbera and Troy Edwards will be on the same side, competing for the White team.
Sanders and Murray were placed on separate teams as club officials worked to even out the squads.
The 6-foot-4 Sanders averaged 17.8 points this season, as Timber Creek went 20-7 and won the Olympic Conference Patriot Division ahead of Group 4 state champion Shawnee. He will play for the team coached by Clayton’s Frank Rago and featuring Atlantic City’s Ray Bethea Jr., a Howard recruit, and Wildwood Catholic’s Caleb Fields, a Bowling Green recruit.
The 6-6 Murray, who averaged 17.4 points, will play for the team coached by Triton’s Andrew Canzanese and featuring the Camden and Eastern players and Haddon Heights’ Jared Latane, the school’s all-time leading scorer.
“Coach Canz already told me he’s matching him [Murray] up against me, so I’ll be ready,” Sanders said of Canzanese, who coached both players as an assistant under Bolds at Timber Creek before taking over at Triton. “I hope he’s ready, too. It’ll be a fun last high school event in New Jersey.”
Sanders and Murray have been teammates since elementary school.
“Me and Mo have been playing together since fifth grade,” Sanders said. “I’ve known him since like fourth grade, so this is going to have a different feel to it.”
Sanders said he and Murray are physically similar and know each other’s playing style.
“The fact that Mo and I have similar abilities and long length makes it an even matchup,” said Sanders, who will attend Notre Dame College, an NCAA Division II program in Euclid, Ohio. “We are both among the top players in South Jersey, and when we play each other, it’s like we are trying to prove something to each other.
“He’s a very smart player. When you play against him, you have to be ready, or you’ll get embarrassed.”
Murray, who likely will attend junior college, said he and Sanders will take the floor and embrace the spirit of the showcase – mixing competitiveness with camaraderie.
“We’re going to give the fans what they want to see, and that’s a matchup between me and Isaiah,” Murray said. “We’re going to put on a show. Should be fun.”
Albert J. Carino Boys Basketball Club of South Jersey all-star games
Sunday, March 25 at Rutgers-Camden
Tim Lenahan 8th grade all-star game, 1 p.m.
Senior all-star game, 3 p.m.
Blue team (Coach Frank Rago, Clayton): Mahir Yilmaz, Clayton; Pat Holden, Lower Cape May; Drew Gallagher, Holy Spirit; Divine Anderson, Pleasantville; Anthony Mitchell, Glassboro; Jaden Wallace, Collingswood; Kyion Flanders, Wildwood; Caleb Fields, Wildwood Catholic; Dante Masino, Highland; Luke Castagna, Pitman; Isaiah Sanders, Timber Creek; Ray Bethea Jr., Atlantic City; Jawan Roane, Penns Grove; Tysheim Perkins, Winslow Township; Marlon Hargis, St. Augustine.
White team (Coach Andrew Canzanese, Triton): Jared Latane, Haddon Heights; Jesse Barbera, Eastern; Jacquey Mendez, Bordentown; Kadian Dawkins, Rancocas Valley; Chris Roe, Sterling; Troy Edwards, Eastern; Corey Greer, Camden; Jabril Enmond, Florence; Peyton Vostenak, Bishop Eustace; Andrew Sims, Lenape; D’Andre Thurmond, Burlington City; Maurice Murray, Timber Creek; Jalen Collins, Triton; Myles Thompson, Camden; Tymere Bennett, Cherokee.
8th Grade All-Stars
White team (Coach Rob Ridarelli): Carlos Lopez, Williamstown; Christian Morrison, Delran; Aidan Anderson, Harrington; Derek Simpson, Harrington; Dominic Romani, St. Joan of Arc; Andrew Ball, Marlton; Steven Light, Gloucester; Rasheer Fleming, Gloucester; Joe Deiter, St. Joan of Arc; Elijah Smalls, Atlantic Christian; Dwight Matthews, Medford; Jared DeMea, Fernwood; Elmarko Jackson, Marlton; Nygel Idro, Holy Name; Ethan Popejoy, Clearview.
Blue team (Coach Rob DePersia): Gavin Estrada, Woodbury; Khomani Wade, Memorial; Maliek Lewis, Penns Grove; Trey Simmons, Delsea; Jamaal Morris, Burlington City; Camerin Kid, Kingsway; Jameel Morris, Burlington City; Dante Del Duca, Haddonfield; Danny Murphy, Delran; Grant Yezzi, Gibbsboro; Zion Cheeks, Penns Grove; Chase Ruppel, Indian Mills; Jacquez Hunt, Burlington City; Ethan Thomas, Collingswood; Tommy Finnegan, St. Joseph.