Camden’s boys’ basketball season ended with another frustrating state championship loss, but the Panthers recent dominance in the area has truly been impressive.
It marked the fifth consecutive year Camden has lost in a state championship. This year’s loss was 51-49 to Newark West Side at Rutgers University in Piscataway.
Last year Camden also lost a two decision to the same West Side team in last year’s state final. In addition to making five straight state final appearances, Camden (24-7) has won six consecutive South Jersey titles.
Remember, Camden lost junior point guard Corey Greer when he suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the third game of the season.
Still, the Panthers were able to win South Jersey, beating Haddonfield, 42-40 and then blitzed by Rumson, 65-49 in the state Group 2 semifinal.
In the state final, it was free throw shooting that did in the Panthers, who were 10 for 24 from the foul line.
With Greer and junior forward Myles Thompson leading leading the returning cast, Camden should again be a state title contender next year.
The other sectional champions from the South Jersey area were St Augustine in Non-Public A, Woodbury (Group 1), Winslow Township (Group 3) and Shawnee (Group 4).
St. Augustine, Woodbury and Shawnee lost in the state final, while Winslow Township, which won its third straight South Jersey Group 3 title, fell to Ewing in the state semifinals.
St. Augustine won its 15th consecutive South Jersey title with a 65-35 win over Bishop Eustace in the South Jersey A final.
The Hermits then dropped a 69-66 decision to Don Bosco Prep in the state final. St. Augustine, which trailed by 17 at halftime made a furious comeback and missed a three-pointer at the buzzer that would have sent the game into overtime.
The Hermits finished 27-3, with the other losses to St. Anthony by one point and to Camden by three. So the three losses were by a total of six points.
Shawnee lost 57-41 in the Group 4 state final to heavily favored Linden, but the game was much closer than the final score indicated. The Renegades trailed by just four point midway through the fourth quarter.
Shawnee (27-3) will return its entire starting lineup next season and the Renegades should make another serious run at a state title.
Woodbury (26-6) ended its season with a 69-54 loss to Verona in the Group 1 state final. The Thundering Herd had one of the best sophomores in South Jersey in point guard Aaron Estrada. Even though the Thundering Herd lose some key seniors, including 6-5 Ja’Zere Noel, who enjoyed an excellent state tournament, they should field a team capable of returning to the state final next season.
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