A look at who's hot, who's not in tourney

Posted: February 28, 2011

Here's a primer on the sectional boys' basketball tournaments:

South Jersey Group 1

The favorite. Top-seeded Pitman (24-2). Other coaches and athletic directors, take note: This is how you build a schedule when you have top seniors such as Luke Dickson (23.6 points per game) and Dylan Colgate (21.4). The Panthers went outside the Tri-County Classic and beat Lenape, Pennsauken, Timber Creek, Holy Spirit, and Haddon Heights.

Hot. No. 6 Salem has won six in a row behind senior Woodrow Furbush (20.7). No. 5 Paulsboro has won seven of eight behind sophomore Xavier Lundy (21.2).

Not. No. 4 Gloucester has lost five in a row.

Player to watch. Junior forward Jason Hutzler has scored in double figures in 15 straight games for No. 3 Lindenwold.

Best early game. No. 9 Haddon Township at No. 8 Audubon. These backyard rivals will get to enjoy March basketball before the winner visits Pitman.

Projected final. Pitman over No. 2 Penns Grove. The Red Devils have a balanced attack led by senior Malcolm Chase, but the Panthers are a rare Group 1 team that could do big damage in Group 3 or Group 4.

South Jersey Group 2

The favorite. Top-seeded Lakewood, last season's Central Jersey Group 3 champion, features two Big East-caliber players in swingman Jarrod Davis and guard Anthony Walker.

Hot. No. 2 Middle Township (24-2) has won 12 in a row behind senior Garrett Kerr (23.2). No. 6 Haddonfield (21-5) has won 13 of 14 behind senior Wyatt Polk (24.0).

Not. No. 7 Willingboro (16-8) has lost three of five.

Player to watch. No. 3 Cinnaminson has two: Senior guard Max DiLeo (20.6) and senior swingman Napolean Blamon (20.5).

Best early game. No. 10 Lower Cape May at No. 7 Willingboro. The Caper Tigers (16-5) underscore the depth of this loaded section. They've won six of seven, with the only loss in overtime to St. Augustine.

Projected final. Middle Township over Lakewood. The senior trio of Kerr, Marcus Harmon, and Shai Henry give the Panthers the edge over a talented, but inconsistent, top seed.

South Jersey Group 3

The favorite. Top seed and two-time defending champion Kingsway (19-5). The Dragons have stumbled a bit, but have a clutch floor leader in senior guard Rondell Gilmore-Lane.

Hot. Behind Villanova-bound football star Reggie Paris, No. 7 Pemberton (13-12) has won eight of 10 and beaten Lenape and Cinnaminson.

Not. No. 8 Cherry Hill West has lost eight of nine.

Best early game. No. 11 Moorestown at No. 6 Deptford. Watch out for the balanced Quakers, who have won four of five and made a deep run last year as a No. 12 seed.

Player to watch. No. 12 Woodrow Wilson could surprise behind senior Xavier Robinson (15.6).

Projected final. Kingsway over Pemberton. The Dragons have lost three of five but have a knack for playing their best in tough tournament spots.

South Jersey Group 4

The favorite. Top-seeded Williamstown (22-3) has won 18 in a row but has some health concerns about senior guard Curtis Hopkins, who has a sore back.

Hot. No. 2 Cherry Hill East (22-4) had won 20 in a row before Saturday's loss to top-ranked Paul VI. No. 4 Lenape (20-5) has won six in a row.

Not. No. 7 Shawnee has lost three of four.

Best early game. No. 9 Clearview at No. 8 Atlantic City. The Pioneers would like another shot at division rival Williamstown.

Player to watch. Cherry Hill East junior guard Marc Schlessel is averaging 13.5 points and has hit 61 three-pointers.

Projected final. Cherry Hill East over Lenape. The Indians will find a way to win at Williamstown (that game will be 38-38 with a minute to play), but the Cougars shooting is the difference on their home court.

South Jersey Non-Public A

The favorite. No. 2 Paul VI (24-2). If senior swingman Rob Poole (15.9) and junior point guard Ron Curry (14.8) stay hot from three-point range, this team can win a state title.

Hot. No. 1 St. Augustine (24-2) has won six in a row behind senior guard Isaiah Morton (21.3). No. 8 Bishop Eustace (20-6) has won 16 of 18 behind junior guard Carson Puriefoy (21.4).

Not. No. 3 Holy Spirit (18-7) has lost three in a row.

Best early game. If form holds, Bishop Eustace will visit St. Augustine in a championship-like clash in the quarterfinals.

Player to watch. No. 6 Camden Catholic (19-7) is dangerous behind sophomore swingman Kyle Green (20.1).

Projected final. Paul VI over Bishop Eustace. The Eagles will take the rubber match in the teams' third meeting in three weeks with another last-possession thriller.

Central Jersey Group 4

Dark horse. No. 10 Rancocas Valley (14-10) has played South Jersey's toughest schedule.

Central Jersey Group 3

Dangerous. No. 3 Burlington Township (16-9) has won four in a row.

Central Jersey Group 1

Battle tested. No. 5 Florence (18-5) has wins over Cinnaminson, Haddonfield, and Burlington Township.

Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223

or panastasia@phillynews.com.

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