Plenty of talent in Group 1 final

Schalick's Michael Holloway, a 6-6 junior, snares a rebound in front of Paulsboro's DeShaun Burgess. ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Schalick's Michael Holloway, a 6-6 junior, snares a rebound in front of Paulsboro's DeShaun Burgess. ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Posted: March 10, 2014

First off, it's difficult to think of the South Jersey Group 1 boys' basketball finalists as small schools when one center is 6-foot-10 and an opposing big man is 6-9.

What makes Monday's final between visiting Pitman and Schalick so interesting is that it dispels the myth that small-enrollment schools play on a lower level.

While nobody is saying these teams would win the larger-enrollment groups, those who follow South Jersey basketball would insist it wouldn't be out of the question, either.

"I think both of us feel we can be competitive with any team," said 6-6 Schalick junior Michael Holloway, who isn't even the biggest player on his team, or in his family.

This game will have many intriguing matchups, with the most anticipated at center.

Pitman 6-9 junior Tim Delaney already has made an oral commitment to Villanova. He will be opposed by 6-10 senior and UMass recruit Rashaan Holloway, Mike's brother.

"He's a great player, and it should be a great matchup," Rashaan Holloway said of Delaney.

Pitman also features Eric Stafford, a 6-4 senior headed to Lafayette.

So these two teams have some true basketball heavyweights.

"Some years, people may say that the winner of South Jersey Group 1 is an average team," Pitman coach Kevin Crawford said. "Not this year. Look what Schalick did to a really good Paulsboro team."

Crawford has a point.

The Inquirer's No. 1-ranked team is Haddonfield, and Paulsboro led the Bulldogs by 19 points before they came back and won, 68-63, on Jan. 28.

And Schalick just beat Paulsboro, 79-55, in Friday's semifinals.

So now, the small schools will play on the big stage and it should be a competitive game between these Tri-County Conference teams, especially if the first meeting is any indication.

On Jan. 28, host Schalick defeated Pitman, 49-44, outscoring the Panthers by 11-7 in the final period.

That day, Pitman played without Stafford, out with an ankle injury.

"He's really been rounding into form lately," Crawford said.

Delaney, according to Crawford, has been hampered by a hip injury. Still, Delaney can hurt teams from the perimeter or inside and is one of South Jersey's toughest matchups.

And in another example of the depth of quality players in the Group 1 final, Pitman senior Darnell Foreman has enjoyed a strong season at point guard.

"Delaney and Stafford are great, great players, but I think Foreman this year has been their best player," Schalick coach Eric Cassidy said.

That is some impressive depth, but Schalick can match anybody in that department.

The Cougars have three 1,000-point scorers: Rashaan Holloway, 6-4 senior Melvin Allen, and 6-0 senior DeAndre Solomon. Mike Holloway, in his first year at Schalick after Sacred Heart closed, is 14 points shy of 1,000.

According to local historian Chuck Langerman, if Mike Holloway reaches the milestone this year, it will be the first time in state history that a school has four 1,000-point scorers in the starting lineup.

So on and on it goes. Two teams with Division I players, impressive size, and plenty of difference-makers.

These are Group 1 schools with a definite Group 4 profile.


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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