Cover Image: DJ Wagner hoists the NJSIAA Group 2 state championship trophy as his team celebrates its 93-52 win over Newark Central at Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway on March 13, 2022.
Kevin Emmons, South Jersey Sports Zone
- Camden (31-3 record): The Panthers trounced Newark Central, 93-52, to capture their first NJSIAA state championship since 2000 at Rutgers University on March 13. Camden fell short to Roselle Catholic, 61-58, in overtime in the Tournament of Champions final on Sunday. Camden is 68-1 in its last 69 games against opponents from the Garden State. It also defeated the Lions, 67-64, in the GEICO ESPN High School Basketball Showcase last December. The Panthers bolstered their resume with wins over nationally-ranked Sierra Canyon (CA) and Milton (GA), and defeated PIAA Class 6A state finalist Archbishop Wood (PA) by 32 points. Rick Brunson’s crew finished a perfect 15-0 in Olympic Conference play with a pair of wins over Woodrow Wilson, Camden Catholic, Paul VI and Bishop Eustace. Camden also earned quality wins over in-state foes Lenape, Gill St. Bernard’s, Rutgers Prep, St. Peter’s Prep, Holy Spirit, St. Augustine, Manchester Township, Rumson-Fair Haven and NJSIAA Group 4 state champion Elizabeth in the Tournament of Champions semifinals. The Panthers only two out-of-state losses came at the hands of Montverde Academy (FL), ranked fourth nationally in the ESPN SCNext Top 25, and eighth-ranked Calvary Christian (FL).
Camden is the City of Champions.— Kevin Emmons (@OfficialKEmmons) March 13, 2022
FINAL: Woodrow Wilson 43, Ramapo 42. @SJSportsZone 🏀
The Tigers of East Camden secure their first state championship since 1985.@RamapoAthletics @RamapoBball @RHSAthleticDir @WilsonTigerAD @mainavent40 @CamdenSchools @WWHS_Camden pic.twitter.com/RZQVEazAzh
- Woodrow Wilson (22-7): In his first season on Federal Street in East Camden, coach Kenny Avent guided the Tigers to their first NJSIAA state championship since 1985. Woodrow Wilson defeated Ramapo, 43-42, to secure the Group 3 title at Rutgers University on March 13 and also secured its first sectional crown since 1991 with a 47-40 win over Burlington Township on March 8. The Tigers won 12 out of their last 14 games including victories over Lenape, Dover (DE), Paul VI, Deptford, Moorestown and Manasquan before bowing out to perennial parochial power Bergen Catholic, 69-52, in the Tournament of Champions quarterfinals. After losing its first game of the campaign to Egg Harbor Township (64-60), Wilson rattled off seven consecutive victories with quality wins against Clearview, Camden Catholic, Paul VI, Eastern and Bishop Eustace. The Tigers split the regular season series with the Irish and the Crusaders, and also dropped a pair of games to No. 1 Camden. Avent’s squad also suffered a one-point setback to Paterson Kennedy and earned wins over South Jersey Group 3 foes Delsea and Cherry Hill West.
- Lenape (27-4): The Indians captured their first sectional title since 2009 with a 45-33 victory over Cherry Hill East in the South Jersey Group 4 final on March 7. Lenape won 15 out of its first 16 games including key victories over North Jersey Section 2, Group 4 finalist Linden, Cherry Hill East, Holy Spirit, Shawnee, North Jersey Section 2, Group 3 champion Colonia, Newark East Side, Cherokee, Eastern and Camden Catholic. The Indians fell to Cherry Hill East, 43-39, on February 1. Matt Wolf’s squad went 2-1 against the Cougars this season. Lenape won 12 out of its last 14 games including wins over Paul VI, Haddonfield, Moorestown, Millville, Egg Harbor Township in the South Jersey Group 4 semifinals and Group 4 state champion Elizabeth at the Battle by the Bay in Atlantic City. The Indians only two setbacks during that stretch were a 49-42 loss to No. 2 Woodrow Wilson and a two-point defeat to state championship finalist Marlboro (49-47) in the Group 4 state semifinals.
- Cherry Hill East (28-2): The Cougars suffered a 51-46 setback to No. 3 Lenape on December 23 before ratting off 25 consecutive wins. During that stretch, Cherry Hill East defeated Camden Catholic, Eastern (three times), Paulsboro, Bishop Eustace, Shawnee (twice), Cherokee (three times), Deptford and avenged the loss to Lenape with a 43-39 win on February 1. The Cougars reached the South Jersey Group 4 final and fell to the Indians, 45-33, in the Olympic American rubber match. Cherry Hill East clinched a share of the Olympic Conference American Division title with an 11-1 record in divisional games.
Moorestown stuns Egg Harbor Township, 56-54, on a half court shot by Moe Airall at the buzzer. @SJSportsZone 🏀#SCTop10 @MHSQuakers @QuakerBoysBBall @EHTNJAthletics @EHTNJHS @EHTNJSchools @ehthsboyshoops @SportsCenter @ESPNAssignDesk @hcpreplancers @HCPShowcase pic.twitter.com/AewNewvRfF— Kevin Emmons (@OfficialKEmmons) February 5, 2022
- Moorestown (23-6): After dropping a 60-48 decision to Camden Catholic on December 18, the Quakers reeled off seven straight victories. Moorestown held off Eastern for a 60-59 win, and earned quality victories over Group 1 state finalist Burlington City (56-51) and Pemberton (64-53) during the stretch. The Quakers sputtered and dropped a pair of games to divisional foe Burlington Township and Washington Township — a stunning loss — before stringing together an 11-game winning streak. Moorestown earned redemption with a 47-46 win over the Falcons and knocked off Egg Harbor Township (56-54) and Paul VI (53-50) during the rally. Montgomery ceased the Quakers’ 11-game streak with a 54-39 triumph on February 17. Moorestown proceeded to fall to No. 3 Lenape, 66-45, five days later. The Quakers defeated Palmyra, 49-33, and won a pair of playoff games before bowing out to No. 2 Woodrow Wilson, 45-27, in the SJ Group 3 semifinals.
- Egg Harbor Township (23-4): The Eagles opened their season with a 10-game winning streak. Egg Harbor Township notched wins over No. 2 Woodrow Wilson (64-60), Haddonfield (59-42), Linden (59-47) and St. Joseph (68-60). Cameron Bell’s squad fell to North Jersey Section 2, Group 4 semifinalist Westfield, 61-57, before rattling off six straight victories including a 55-52 triumph over Holy Spirit. The Eagles winning streak was halted by a stunning 56-54 loss to Moorestown at the buzzer at the Holy Cross Prep Showcase on February 5. Egg Harbor Township responded with three straight victories over St. Joseph, St. Augustine and Holy Spirit, and proceeded to win seven out of their last nine games. It earned a quality win over Clearview in the South Jersey Group 4 quarterfinals. Their only setbacks during the stretch came at the hands of Mainland (50-38) in the Cape-Atlantic League quarterfinals and No. 2 Lenape (66-52) in the SJ Group 4 semifinals.
- St. Augustine (23-4): The Hermits won their first 17 games before suffering a 76-51 thumping against No. 6 Egg Harbor Township. During their 17-game winning streak, the Hermits notched a pair of victories over Millville by a combined 22 points and earned notable wins over League Bound Academy (73-61) and Doane Academy (70-63) at the Holy Cross Prep Showcase. Paul Rodio’s squad also boosted its resume with a 42-40 win over Holy Spirit in the Cape-Atlantic League Tournament semifinals on a buzzer beater by sophomore Semaj Bethea. St. Augustine fell to No. 1 Camden, 75-58, and responded with a 65-61 statement win over Paul VI two days later. The Hermits were upset by Mainland, 58-56, in overtime in the Cape-Atlantic League Tournament final and finished the campaign with a 22-3 record against true South Jersey competition. St. Augustine concluded its season with a 67-60 loss to St. Joseph (Metuchen) in the South Jersey Non-Public A quarterfinals.
Overbrook stuns No. 12 Burlington Township, 61-59, on a layup in transition by Devon Johnson as time expires in regulation. @SJSportsZone 🏀@O_Ramsbball @ohsRamSports @OverbrookRAMS @PineHillSD @bthsathletics @BasketballBt @Coach_RDerry pic.twitter.com/Rv3H7CmGNT— Kevin Emmons (@OfficialKEmmons) February 15, 2022
- Overbrook (21-5): The Rams won 15 straight games before falling to Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinalist Manchester Township (23-6 record), 62-54, in the South Jersey Group 2 quarterfinals. If not for a miraculous halfcourt buzzer beater by Haddonfield’s Darragh Roddy that made SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays, Overbrook might have won 17 games in a row. The Rams fell to the Haddons, 41-40, on January 22. The Tri-County Conference Tournament champions defeated a trio of South Jersey Group 4 schools — Kingsway (66-53), Williamstown (50-49) and Clearview (59-51) — to capture the title. Overbrook also earned a pair of wins over Middle Township and Burlington Township on buzzer beaters of their own. The Rams earned quality wins over South Jersey Group 1 finalist Salem, Deptford, Wildwood and Pemberton. They suffered three setbacks against Olympic Conference opponents Paul VI, Cherokee and No. 4 Cherry Hill East. Overbrook is 34-7 since 2021 and is slated to return every player on its current roster next winter.
- St. Joseph (19-8): The Wildcats stormed out to a 6-0 start with notable wins over Holy Spirit, League Bound Academy and eventual Cape-Atlantic League Tournament champion Mainland. St. Joseph Academy dropped three of its next four games to Haddonfield (50-46), Egg Harbor Township (68-60) and Lower Cape May (69-66). The Wildcats responded to the head-scratching loss to the Caper Tigers with five consecutive victories including triumphs over Holy Spirit (again), Burlington Township, and Mainland (again). The Mustangs upset St. Joe’s in the third meeting between the two teams in the CAL Tournament semifinals. After narrow losses to Hammonton (43-41) and Egg Harbor Township (68-62), St. Joseph knocked off Camden Catholic, 66-56, and avenged the overtime loss to Lower Cape May on January 18 with a 79-43 victory. The Wildcats fell to Paul VI, 68-56, but responded with a pair of dominating wins over SJ Group 1 finalist Salem (72-51) and SJ Group 4 quarterfinalist Millville (56-32). St. Joseph fell to perennial Shore Conference power Ranney, 67-43, in the South Jersey Non-Public B semifinals.
- Burlington Township (21-9): The Falcons reached the South Jersey Group 3 final and fell to eventual Group 3 state champion Woodrow Wilson, 47-40. Burlington Township won 12 out of its last 16 games including notable wins over Bishop Eustace (55-50), Montgomery (58-47), Shawnee (62-47), Group 1 state finalist Burlington City (76-54), Camden Catholic (60-43) and Mainland (55-49) in the South Jersey Group 3 quarterfinals. Early in the campaign, the battle-tested Falcons dropped a pair of games to Central Jersey Group 3 runner-up Robbinsville (75-52) and Monroe Township (70-61) before rattling off four straight victories. The Falcons defeated No. 5 Moorestown, 61-52, and Central Jersey Group 4 finalist Trenton, 75-63, during that stretch. Burlington Township fell to the Quakers in the second meeting, 47-46, and lost to No. 9 St. Joseph, 49-41. The Falcons were also upset by No. 8 Overbrook, 61-59, on a game-winning layup by Devon Johnson as time expired in regulation. Township suffered unexpected losses to Palmyra (68-64) and Westampton Tech (42-40), but avenged the loss to WesTech with a 66-53 victory a day later. The Falcons concluded their campaign as sectional finalists for the second time since 2019.
- Camden Catholic (17-11): The Irish won nine out of their first 11 games with victories over No. 5 Moorestown and Paul VI in overtime. They lost twice during the stretch by a combined 13 points to No. 4 Cherry Hill East (63-58) and No. 2 Woodrow Wilson (50-42). Camden Catholic avenged the setback to the second-ranked Tigers with a key 64-60 victory on February 10. The Irish lost to Champagnat (FL), Bishop Eustace, Lenape and Paul VI before winning four out of their next five games including the win over Woodrow Wilson and a 55-53 triumph over Haddonfield. Camden Catholic earned a key win over Cherokee sandwiched by a pair of losses to No. 1 Camden. The Irish also fell to No. 9 St. Joseph (66-56) and No. 10 Burlington Township (60-43) by a combined 27 points. Camden Catholic held off Paul VI, 66-65, in double overtime in the opening round of the South Jersey Non-Public A playoffs to win the Olympic National rubber match. Top-seeded Red Bank Catholic defeated the Irish, 88-61, in the sectional quarterfinals.
FINAL/2OT: Camden Catholic 66, Paul VI 65. @SJSportsZone 🏀— Kevin Emmons (@OfficialKEmmons) March 3, 2022
The Irish win the Olympic National rubber match in double overtime to advance to the NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A quarterfinals.@PVI_Athletics @DaFlock12 @Paul_VI @_cchsathletics_ @camdencatholic @IrishBasketbal4 pic.twitter.com/oRBD2pne5l
- Paul VI (16-11): The Eagles won eight out of their first nine games before dropping back-to-back decisions to No. 2 Woodrow Wilson (59-58) and No. 1 Camden (83-53). Paul VI augmented its resume with early season wins over No. 8 Overbrook, Eastern, Sterling and Bishop Eustace. The Eagles went 1-2 against No. 11 Camden Catholic this season including a 66-65 overtime loss in the first round of the South Jersey Non-Public A playoffs. Paul VI endured a brutal schedule and concluded its season with an underwhelming 3-8 record over its final 11 contests. However, the Eagles fell to No. 5 Moorestown, Bishop Eustace, No. 7 St. Augustine, No. 3 Lenape, No. 2 Woodrow Wilson and No. 11 Camden Catholic by a combined 18 points. Yes, six losses to five top-11 ranked teams by a total of 18 points. Paul VI also lost to Non-Public A state finalist Rutgers Prep and No. 1 Camden during that stretch. Despite stumbling towards the finish line, Tony Devlin’s squad earned dominating wins over No. 9 St. Joseph (78-66) and No. 10 Burlington Township (70-48).
- Holy Spirit (16-9): The Spartans lost four of their nine games to Cape-Atlantic League United Division rivals Egg Harbor Township and St. Joseph. They were also upended by No. 7 St. Augustine, 42-40, on a buzzer beater by Semaj Bethea in the CAL Tournament semifinals. Under the direction of first-year head coach Kyle Dhyne, Holy Spirit defeated CAL Tournament champion Mainland twice. The Spartans dominated Doane Academy, 51-28, in the South Jersey Non-Public B quarterfinals and stormed past Middle Township, 54-43, in the opening round of the CAL Tournament. Holy Spirit lost four non-league games to No. 3 Lenape, Father Judge (PA), No. 1 Camden and SJ Non-Public B champion Trenton Catholic in the sectional semifinals. The Spartans went 8-0 against divisional foes Cedar Creek, Hammonton, Lower Cape May and Ocean City, and avoided being upset by inferior opponents.
Player of the Game: Cohen Cook, pictured hoisting his MVP trophy, scored 23 of his game-high 26 points in the second half to lift Mainland past No. 7 St. Augustine, 58-56, in overtime in the Cape-Atlantic League Tournament final on Saturday. @SJSportsZone 🏀 pic.twitter.com/9PCt5WzlUL— Kevin Emmons (@OfficialKEmmons) February 26, 2022
- Mainland (16-11): The Mustangs won eight of their last 10 games and went on an unprecedented run to become the first No. 8 seed to win the Cape-Atlantic League Tournament. Mainland knocked off top-seeded Egg Harbor Township, 50-38, to advance to the tournament’s semifinals. The Mustangs surged past No. 9 St. Joseph, 45-35, and held off No. 7 St. Augustine, 58-56, in overtime to capture its first conference tournament title in school history. However, Mainland went 0-6 against No. 6 Egg Harbor Township, No. 9 St. Joseph and No. 13 Holy Spirit during the regular season. The Mustangs also suffered costly setbacks to Ocean City (44-39), Southern (61-45), Hammonton (47-33) and Cedar Creek (50-44), but split the regular season series with each of those four programs. Dan Williams’ squad also notched quality victories over Cherokee (43-42) at the Seagull Classic, Middle Township (52-42) and Millville (49-29). Mainland bowed out to No. 10 Burlington Township, 55-49, in the South Jersey Group 3 quarterfinals.
- Shawnee (21-7): The Renegades opened the season with a 16-3 record highlighted by a seven-game winning streak. Shawnee defeated Eastern (53-46) and Bishop Eustace (48-39) during that stretch, and fell to St. Thomas Aquinas, 44-29, and No. 3 Lenape, 64-45. The Renegades trounced Williamstown and Pemberton in back-to-back games by a combined 44 points. Shawnee lost to No. 4 Cherry Hill East twice by a combined two points. Joe Kessler’s group proceeded to earn key victories over Kingsway (42-35), Cherry Hill West (69-45) and Sterling (57-42), before falling to No. 10 Burlington Township, 62-47, on February 15. Shawnee also beat district rival Cherokee twice by a combined 69 points before falling to the Chiefs, 30-28, in the South Jersey Group 4 quarterfinals. The Renegades (8-4 Olympic American record) finished in third place in the Olympic Conference American Division standings behind No. 3 Lenape and No. 4 Cherry Hill East.
- Eastern (15-13): The Vikings’ 15-13 record can be deceptive to onlookers. Eastern suffered nine of its 13 losses to teams ranked in the top 12 of the South Jersey Sports Zone Final Top 30. Kevin Crawford’s squad concluded its season with a one-point loss to No. 4 Cherry Hill East (46-45) in the South Jersey Group 4 quarterfinals. The Cougars defeated Eastern three times this season. The Vikings also lost to No.1 Camden, No. 2 Woodrow Wilson, No. 5 Moorestown (by a point), No. 3 Lenape (twice) and No. 12 Paul VI by six points. Eastern won nine out of its last 13 games including notable wins over Bishop Eustace (60-44), Clearview (66-62) and South Jersey Group 3 semifinalist Cherry Hill West (62-55), and also notched quality victories over Cherokee, Kingsway and Sterling. The Vikings lost to No. 15 Shawnee twice this season.
- Sterling (22-6): The Silver Knights won eight out of their first nine games, including victories over Haddonfield (43-40) and Paulsboro (50-40) to solidify themselves as the top team in the Colonial Conference. No. 16 Eastern handed Sterling its only loss during the stretch as coach Justin Barringer was away from the team due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Following a 78-31 win over Lindenwold, the Silver Knights stumbled and lost three out of their next four games to No. 12 Paul VI (84-69), Williamstown (41-38) and Clearview (62-52). Sterling immediately responded by winning 13 of its next 14 games including dominant victories over Haddon Township (63-50) and Haddonfield (43-25). It also earned quality wins over Group 4 schools Rancocas Valley (52-48) and Central Regional (48-45) during the 14-game stretch despite a 57-42 setback to No. 15 Shawnee. Barringer’s squad fell to Haddonfield, 26-25, in the South Jersey Group 2 semifinals. Despite the loss, Sterling went 2-1 against the Bulldogs and outscored them 111-91 in the three meetings.
- Cherokee (15-14): The Chiefs made a shocking run to the South Jersey Group 4 semifinals after knocking off No. 16 Shawnee, 30-28, in the sectional quarterfinals. Cherokee dropped two regular season matchups to the Renegades by a combined 69 points. The win came on the heels of a 47-42 win over Kingsway in the opening round of the SJ Group 4 playoffs. The Chiefs’ roller coaster season began with a disastrous 4-9 record. Then came a nine-game surge that included quality wins over Eastern, Bridgeton, Haddonfield, Deptford and Cherry Hill West. Eric Cassidy’s team split the regular season series with the Vikings and the Lions. Cherokee’s inexperience also showed early in the campaign with costly losses to Haddon Township and Timber Creek. The Chiefs endured a challenging schedule and suffered a narrow one-point setback to No. 14 Mainland, an 11-point loss to No. 11 Camden Catholic and lost six of its 14 games to No. 1 Camden, No. 3 Lenape (twice) and No. 4 Cherry Hill East (three times). The Chiefs bolstered their resume with wins over Bishop Eustace (42-35), No. 8 Overbrook (43-36) and Doane Academy (44-29).
- Bishop Eustace (16-12): The Crusaders sit at No. 18 as a result of setbacks to interdivisional foes Cherokee and Eastern. After withstanding a three-game skid that featured losses to No. 1 Camden, No. 12 Paul VI and No. 4 Cherry Hill East, the Crusaders ripped off four straight wins including triumphs over No. 11 Camden Catholic (62-53) and Hightstown (54-44) at Rowan University. Bishop Eustace retaliated against the Eagles with a 60-56 win on February 10 to offset the loss on January 8. The Crusaders also notched a 47-41 win against No. 2 Woodrow Wilson on February 24 after falling to the Tigers of East Camden earlier in the campaign. Eustace won seven out of its last 10 games heading into its season finale against South Jersey Non-Public B finalist Ranney. The Crusaders fell to the 2019 NJSIAA Tournament of Champions winners, 65-58, in the SJ Non-Public B quarterfinals.
- Paulsboro (22-4): Top-seeded Paulsboro was upset by Gloucester, 59-52, in the South Jersey Group 1 semifinals. Despite the stunning loss, Paulsboro defeated the Lions twice in the regular season. The Red Raiders’ season was highlighted by a 14-game winning streak that featured triumphs over Gloucester, Haddon Township, Haddonfield and Wildwood. Daryus Quarles miraculously returned to lead his team after undergoing successful brain surgery last November. Quarles’ guided the Red Raiders to a perfect 10-0 mark in Colonial Conference Patriot Division play. Paulsboro lost three matchups to No. 4 Cherry Hill East (46-38), No. 17 Sterling (50-40) and Delaware power Salesianum (50-41). The Sals were the No. 1 seed in the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association state tournament and fell to Tower Hill in the state championship.
- Pemberton (20-8): After opening the season with a 2-5 record, the Hornets responded by winning 16 out of their last 19 contests. During that stretch, Pemberton rolled past Haddonfield, 56-36, and earned quality wins over Group 1 state finalist Burlington City (74-47) and Doane Academy (72-55). The victory over the Spartans avenged an early season 68-58 loss. The defeat was part of a five-game skid that included double-digit losses to Cinnaminson, No. 5 Moorestown, Watchung Hills and No. 15 Shawnee. The Hornets also suffered a 60-54 setback to No. 8 Overbrook before alleviating the loss to Cinnaminson with a 50-46 victory a day later. The win ignited a five-game winning streak before the Hornets fell to No. 12 Paul VI, 56-52, at the Holy Cross Prep Showcase on February 5. The Hornets also earned a pair of dominating victories over young, but talented Medford Tech. Pemberton was stunned by Cherry Hill West (14-15 record), 50-49, in the South Jersey Group 3 quarterfinals.
- Haddonfield (20-10): The Haddons won their first four games of the season, including a pair of quality triumphs over Haddon Township (39-27) and Clearview (73-39), before falling to No. 6 Egg Harbor Township, 59-42. The Bulldogs reeled off 10 wins in their next 12 games with signature victories over No. 8 Overbrook (41-40) and No. 9 St. Joseph (50-46). The Haddons also defeated SJ Group 1 champion Gloucester, 36-26, despite losing to No. 17 Sterling and No. 20 Paulsboro in Colonial Conference matchups. Although Haddonfield reached the South Jersey Group 2 final for the fifth time since 2017, it entered the playoffs with a 3-6 record in its final nine regular season games. The Bulldogs were upset by No. 18 Cherokee, 43-39, at the Holy Cross Prep Showcase and dropped back-to-back games to Sterling (43-25) and No. 11 Camden Catholic (55-53). Haddonfield etched out a 52-46 win over Haddon Heights before falling to Pemberton by 20 points and losing to No. 3 Lenape, 65-53. The regular season concluded with a 50-40 setback to Kingsway. Despite the playoff win over Sterling, Haddonfield went 1-2 in three meetings against the Bulldogs and was outscored 111-91.
- Clearview (19-8): Clearview won seven of its last nine games and went 4-0 against Tri-County Conference rivals Deptford and Kingsway this season.The Pioneers were walloped by No. 22 Haddonfield, 73-39, at the Haddons’ holiday tournament and fell to No. 2 Woodrow Wilson, 61-53, two days later. Clearview also fell to No. 8 Overbrook twice, including a 59-51 setback in the Tri-County Conference Tournament final. The Pioneers were upset by TCC Royal Division foes Williamstown (56-41) and Delsea (59-50), but split the season series with both opponents and earned a quality win over No. 17 Sterling (62-52). Clearview fell narrowly to No. 16 Eastern, 66-62, and bowed out to No. 6 Egg Harbor Township, 75-36, in the South Jersey Group 4 quarterfinals.
- Deptford (19-8): The Spartans jumped out to a 12-2 start this season before a three-game skid seized their momentum. Deptford lost three straight games to No. 4 Cherry Hill East, No. 18 Cherokee and Kingsway before retaliating with a four-game winning streak. Branden Williams’ team notched wins over Timber Creek, Cumberland, Gloucester and Delsea to open the campaign before dropping back-to-back contests to No. 8 Overbrook (73-65) and No. 23 Clearview (68-59). The Spartans fell to Clearview again, 72-56, in the Tri-County Conference Tournament semifinals. Deptford dominated South Jersey Group 3 semifinalist Cherry Hill West, 76-59, and knocked off Williamstown, 69-58, in early February. The Spartans were upset by Penns Grove, 50-47, before winning a pair of games and reaching the SJ Group 3 quarterfinals. Deptford ended its season with a 73-54 setback to eventual Group 3 state champion Woodrow Wilson.
Doane Academy receives it’s trophy after capturing the 2022 New Jersey Independent Schools Athletic Association Boys B Division title with a 69-59 win over Princeton Day in Burlington City on Thursday night. @SJSportsZone 🏀@Doane1837 @PDSPanthers @PDS_Athletics @BCTGameOn pic.twitter.com/njXtur5cYl— Kevin Emmons (@OfficialKEmmons) February 24, 2022
- Doane Academy (19-7): The Spartans opened their campaign with a five-game winning streak that included triumphs over No. 16 Eastern (66-57), Medford Tech (60-58), No. 21 Pemberton (68-58) and Cinnaminson (67-56). The rally was halted by a 44-29 loss to No. 18 Cherokee followed by a 77-74 setback to Cross Christian (DE) two days later. Doane Academy proceeded to win 13 of its next 16 games including a 69-59 win over Princeton Day in the New Jersey Independent Schools Athletic Association Boys B Division championship on February 24. The Spartans fell to Pennington (50-47), No. 7 St. Augustine (70-63) and No. 21 Pemberton (72-56) during the 16-game stretch. Doane Academy finished with a 7-1 record in Burlington County Scholastic League Freedom Division play to capture its first BCSL Freedom Division title in program history. The Spartans dominated Mater Dei, 102-60, in the opening round of the South Jersey Non-Public B playoffs before concluding their season with a 51-28 loss to No. 13 Holy Spirit in the sectional quarterfinals.
- Millville (19-7): The Thunderbolts entered the Cape-Atlantic League Tournament having won 16 out of their first 20 games. Millville lost two games to No. 7 St. Augustine, including a narrow 59-55 setback on January 20, and fell to No. 14 Mainland (49-29) by 20 points. First-year head coach Michael LaTorre guided the Thunderbolts to wins over Williamstown (56-43) in the Marty Derer Holiday Classic, Vineland (66-43) and Delsea (63-47) during the 20-game span. Millville swept neighboring rival Vineland and also beat Atlantic Tech and Bridgeton twice during the regular season. No. 9 St. Joseph bounced the Thunderbolts from the CAL Tournament with a 56-32 victory, but LaTorre’s squad responded with a key win over Middle Township (52-50) four days later. Millville suffered a one-point setback to Collingswood (48-47), rallied past Williamstown (66-63) in the opening round of the South Jersey Group 4 playoffs, and concluded its season with a 62-32 loss to No. 3 Lenape in the SJ Group 4 quarterfinals.
- Middle Township (17-8): The Panthers began their campaign with a 9-2 record before falling to Bridgeton, 56-54. Two days later, Middle Township redeemed itself with a 53-49 win over the Bulldogs that ignited a six-game winning streak. Middle Township defeated Ocean City, Hammonton, Atlantic City, Absegami and Oakcrest during the stretch. The Panthers proceeded to endure a four-game skid with three losses to Cedar Creek (41-35), No. 8 Overbrook (57-55) and No. 25 Millville by a combined 10 points. Middle Township also lost to No. 13 Holy Spirit, 54-43, in the Cape-Atlantic League Tournament quarterfinals. LaMarr Greer’s squad earned wins over Central Jersey Group 4 opponent Hightstown (62-53) and Pennsauken Tech (47-43) before concluding its season with a 44-25 loss to No. 22 Haddonfield in the South Jersey Group 2 quarterfinals. The Panthers finished with an 11-1 record in CAL American divisional play.
- Burlington City (22-7): The Blue Devils captured their third straight Central Jersey Group 1 title with a thrilling 74-73 win over Keyport on March 8. Former Washington Bullets guard Bryan Warrick directed Burlington City to 22 wins and an appearance in the NJSIAA Group 1 state final in his first season as head coach. The Blue Devils fell to Paterson Charter, 91-67, at Rutgers University on March 13. Burlington City cruised past South Jersey Group 1 champion Gloucester, 67-55, to reach the state championship for the third time since 2019. Warrick’s squad won 12 of its last 15 games with its only losses coming to No. 10 Burlington Township, No. 21 Pemberton and Group 1 state champion Paterson Charter during the 15-game span. The Blue Devils opened the campaign with a 14-4 record, but suffered upset losses to Holy Cross Prep (53-48), Northern Burlington (73-50) and Pennsauken Tech (61-54).
- Gloucester (21-10): The Lions stunned No. 20 Paulsboro, 59-52, to advance to the South Jersey Group 1 final on March 5. Gloucester City proceeded to knock off Salem, 51-41, to capture its first sectional title in 51 years. The win over the Red Raiders avenged a pair of regular season losses. Gloucester went 1-2 against Paulsboro this season. The Lions fell to No. 24 Deptford, 44-38, and dropped back-to-back contests to Colonial Conference foes Haddon Township (66-44) and Haddonfield (36-26) by double digits. After the loss to the Bulldogs, Gloucester won 10 out of its next 14 games, but was upset by Woodbury (58-56) on February 10. The Lions also suffered a 65-61 setback to Cinnaminson on February 22. However, Gloucester won 13 out of its last 17 contests with notable wins over Haddon Heights, Pitman and Glassboro.
- Salem (21-8): Salem reached the South Jersey Group 1 final and fell to No. 29 Gloucester, 51-41. After losing their first three games of the campaign to No. 8 Overbrook, No. 20 Paulsboro and Collingswood, the Rams rattled off 15 straight victories. First-year head coach Anthony Farmer guided Salem to wins over Haddon Township (52-47), South Jersey Group 3 semifinalist Cherry Hill West (55-49), Gloucester Catholic (49-47) and Wildwood (60-56). The Warriors responded with a 53-50 win on February 4 to even the regular season series. Salem won the third matchup, 44-35, in a Tri-County Conference Tournament consolation game on February 18 and cruised past the Warriors, 73-52, in the SJ Group 1 semifinals on March 5. Prior to the 44-35 victory, the Rams experienced a three-game skid with upset losses to Glassboro (45-42) and Williamstown (67-49), and a 72-51 setback to No. 9 St. Joseph. Salem finished with an 11-1 record in TCC Classic Division matchups and secured an outright division title.
South Jersey Sports Zone (SJSZ) was co-founded by Kevin Emmons in 2017. The brand covers high school sports and promotes South Jersey pride. If you’d like to keep up with SJSZ, find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.