The Knights' Junaid galvanizes high school

All Camden Catholic eyes on Rutgers.

Posted: April 03, 2007

Yesterday could have easily been "Rashidat Junaid Day" over at Camden Catholic High School.

That's because you would have been hard-pressed to find anyone at the Cherry Hill campus not talking about the 2006 Irish graduate.

People spoke of Junaid possibly winning an NCAA women's basketball championship in this, her freshman season at Rutgers.

The Scarlet Knights face Tennessee in today's 8:30 p.m. national final at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

"I went into the main office [yesterday] morning, and they were talking about Rashidat," said Marlene Grimes, Camden Catholic's athletic director and assistant girls' basketball coach. "I'm getting e-mails from everyone, even from the wrestling coach [Pete DiPol]. He can't stop talking about the game.

"We are very happy for her."

Junaid contributed in Rutgers' 59-35 semifinal victory over Louisiana State on Sunday.

The 6-foot-4 reserve center replaced Kia Vaughn after the starter picked up her second foul with 11 minutes, 16 seconds left in the first half.

With Junaid helping out with the Scarlet Knights' double- and triple-team defense, LSU 6-6 center Sylvia Fowles was held scoreless the rest of the half. Fowles finished with five points. She went into the contest averaging 17.2.

Junaid finished with four rebounds and a steal in 12 minutes. That was a great performance, considering The Inquirer's 2006 South Jersey player of the year has averaged just 1.3 points, 1.5 rebounds and five minutes this season.

"When I was watching the game with my friends, I made sure they knew that was my girl," Camden Catholic senior guard Christine Matera said of her former teammate. "I think it's inspiring what she's doing."

And not just to the current members of the Camden Catholic girls' basketball team.

"I would see her in the gym last season," DiPol said. "Now, I'm watching her on ESPN. It's a very big deal around here.

"Everybody is pumped. The whole school is pumped."


Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 610-313-8029 or kpompey@phillynews.com.

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