If you're looking for pleasant surprises in boys' basketball, go no further than Salem County, where Schalick and Salem are among South Jersey's most improved teams.
A year after having gone 6-17, Schalick is 14-3 and stands on top of the Tri-County Classic Division with an 11-1 record. The Cougars hold a two-game lead over Wildwood, Gloucester and Salem.
As for Salem, it's 13-3 overall and 10-3 in the division after having gone 10-13 overall last season.
For Schalick, the job now is to close things out, which won't be easy. The Cougars still have meetings left with the three second-place teams, beginning today when they host Salem at 5:30 p.m.