This basketball season marked the end of remarkable runs for special senior classes at Haddonfield, Moorestown and Camden Catholic.

Those powerhouse teams, all of which captured South Jersey championships while winning a combined 85 games, were led by some of the most accomplished senior classes in program history.

Haddonfield’s seniors were part of a program that won 102 games during their four years. The highlights included back-to-back Group 2 state championships in the last two seasons, plus three straight seasons of classic tournament clashes with Camden.

Haddonfield coach Paul Wiedeman said his team's remarkable two-year run started here: Camden's John Evans is lifted up after hitting a shot at the end of overtime for the 42-40 victory over Haddonfield in the South Jersey Group 2 Final back on March 7, 2017. Haddonfield over the ensuing two years went a combined 60-6 and won consecutive Group 2 state titles.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Haddonfield coach Paul Wiedeman said his team's remarkable two-year run started here: Camden's John Evans is lifted up after hitting a shot at the end of overtime for the 42-40 victory over Haddonfield in the South Jersey Group 2 Final back on March 7, 2017. Haddonfield over the ensuing two years went a combined 60-6 and won consecutive Group 2 state titles.

“It all started with this group when we lost in overtime in the last game played in Clarence Turner Gymnasium,” Haddonfield coach Paul Wiedeman said of his team’s 42-40 loss to Camden in March 2017.

In March of 2018 and March of 2019, Haddonfield beat Camden in overtime games in the South Jersey Group 2 tournament, with both victories propelling the Bulldawgs to the state title.

“Growing up in South Jersey basketball, Camden was the program as a Group 4 school,” said Wiedeman, a 1989 Haddonfield graduate. “Haddonfield was a tiny Group 1 school. Now we’re both Group 2, and for us to compete at the highest level and be a nemesis with Camden, no one would have thought that back in the day.”

Haddonfield seniors Mike DePersia, Dan Fleming, Aidan Blake, Dylan Heine, Drew Gavranich and Lewis Evans were six of the top seven players from a team that went 31-2 this season, tying the school record for victories set by Wiedeman’s 1989 team and tied by Brian Zoubek’s 2006 team.

“These guys are so special in so many ways,” Wiedeman said of his senior class. “The character, the camaraderie, the togetherness these guys exhibit with each other.”

Moorestown’s senior class that featured Nick Cartwright-Atkins, Jagger Zrada, Vinnie Caprarola, Akhil Giri, Brian McMonagle and Tommy Londres led the Quakers to a combined record of 52-12 over the last two seasons.

The Quakers reached the Central Jersey Group 3 finals in 2018 – losing in overtime to the eventual state champion Nottingham -- and won the Group 3 state title this season.

The state championship was the program’s first in 60 years.

“They’ve been together since fourth grade and they’ve been winning all the way up,” Moorestown coach Shawn Anstey said of his seniors.

Camden Catholic’s seniors led the team on a two-year run that included a combined record of 49-11 and back-to-back Non-Public South A titles.

Camden Catholic's Baba Ajike and his teammates celebrate after winning their second consecutive Non-Public South A title.
STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
Camden Catholic's Baba Ajike and his teammates celebrate after winning their second consecutive Non-Public South A title.

The Irish were led this season by seniors Baba Ajike and Uche Okafor, four-year starters who were members of an eight-win team as freshmen, as well as senior Pat Corbett, a two-year starter at point guard.

They led the Irish to outright ownership of the Olympic National title – thanks in large part to a sweep of rival Camden – as well the program’s first consecutive South Jersey titles since 1993-94.

“Their legacy is definitely cemented,” Camden Catholic coach Matt Crawford said.

This and That

  • South Jersey Group 1 champion Clayton (21-10), which won the program’s first sectional title since 1980, had three players score 500 or more points in Dorien DePina (500), Max Cruz (525) and Josh Jones (527). The Clippers scored 88 points or more 15 times.
  • At the other end of the spectrum was the defense played by Cherokee (22-9), especially in the state tournament. The Chiefs won their first South Jersey Group 4 title since 2010 by holding four opponents to 38, 38, 47 and 40 points, respectively.
  • Shawnee (14-12) started 4-11 and went 10-1 down the stretch of the regular season, with wins over Lenape, Timber Creek, Kingsway, Westampton Tech and Camden . . . Paul VI (25-4) was 5-4 vs. Olympic National foes and 20-0 vs. everybody else, including a win over Haddonfield at the Shoot Down Cancer Classic at St. Augustine.
  • West Deptford (24-4) had a similar season. After an opening-night loss to Haddon Heights, the Eagles were 0-3 vs. Haddonfield and 24-0 vs. everybody else . . . St. Augustine coach Paul Rodio finished the season with 931 career wins, tops in South Jersey history by an astounding margin of 151 victories. Burlington City coach Paul Collins passed late Camden coach Clarence Turner for career wins during the state tournament. Collins is second to Rodio on the all-time list with 780 wins, while Turner is third with 775 victories.
  • Moorestown seniors Jagger Zrada (89), Akhil Giri (57) and Vinnie Caprarola (41) made a combined 187 three-pointers . . . Haddon Township senior Brian Burns averaged 27.6 points in three tournament games, including a career-high 36 in a double-overtime loss to Clayton in South Jersey Group 1 sectional semifinals in his final game . . . Next season’s preseason Top 3: Wildwood Catholic, Camden, Paul VI.

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