Group 1 teams aren't supposed to be bigger than Group 4 teams.
Group 1 teams aren't supposed to be deeper than Group 4 teams, either.
But Paulsboro's size and depth were the difference in a physical, fast-paced, and foul-filled game before a large crowd at Rancocas Valley.
"It showed in the fourth quarter," Eastern coach Joe Murphy said. "There was one time in the third quarter where he [Collins] subbed his entire team. And the lead went up."
Paulsboro got a big game from senior forward Xavier Lundy, who generated 22 points, eight rebounds, and four steals. Sophomore forward Saleem Little added 17 points and six rebounds.
But the Red Raiders' biggest edge was their bench. Paulsboro reserves scored 21 points. Eastern reserves scored two.
"We've got so many people that whenever anybody gets tired, somebody else comes in and gives us a quick burst of energy," Little said.
Seniors Kane Segar (six points) and Yusuf Stafford (four) gave the Red Raiders a big lift off the bench, as did sophomores Theo Holloway (four) and Brandon Hamilton (five).
"I actually think we could be even deeper if I played more guys," Collins said.
With sturdy seniors such as 6-5 Lundy and 6-8 Julien Davenport, Paulsboro tends to tower over most opponents.
But the Red Raiders' greatest physical advantage is their seemingly endless supply of 6-2 athletes who crash the offensive glass and generate defensive pressure in the team's zone trap.
The Red Raiders are 44-1 since the start of last season. But skeptics wonder about their level of competition in those Tuesday-Thursday games in the Colonial Conference.
"We think we're one of the top five teams in South Jersey, but we don't get a lot of chances to prove it," Collins said. "That's why this game was so important for us. If we lost, the critics would have ripped us."
Paulsboro might not always get pushed on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
But Eastern is a Group 4 and top 10 team from the powerful Olympic Conference American Division that can verify that the Red Raiders are doing something right on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Paulsboro 16 18 24 21 - 79
Eastern 19 14 16 22 - 71
P: Derrick Burgess 5, Xavier Lundy 22, Saleem Little 17, Julien Davenport 8, Keenan Williams 6, Theo Holloway 4, Yusuf Stafford 4, Kane Segar 6, Cassius Carter 2, Brandon Hamilton 5.
E: Avery Walker 22, Alex Barr 6, Matt Klinewski 21, Devon Bell 17, Tom Flacco 3, Sam Johnson 2.
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