Two things have spurred Camden Catholic on the four-game winning streak that has propelled the Irish back into The Inquirer’s South Jersey Top 10.
Only one has been evident in the box scores.
The most obvious aspect of the team’s recent surge has been the play of junior swingman Zach Hicks, who has averaged 23.7 points in victories over Westampton Tech, Winslow Township, Paul VI and Bordentown.
But there’s been another factor for Camden Catholic (12-4), and that’s been the return from injury of junior forward Lucas Dunn.
Dunn generated 14 points in the 59-57 victory Thursday over then-No. 3 Paul VI. That game was a table-turner for the Irish, who had lost to their fierce Olympic National and South Jersey Non-Public A rivals by a 46-34 score on Jan. 3.
Dunn, a starter on last year’s sectional-championship team, contributes far more than points, according to his coach.
“He does so many things that don’t show up on the stat sheet,” Camden Catholic coach Matt Crawford said. “He makes everyone around him better.”
Camden Catholic, which dropped out its usual perch in the Top 10 after losing three of four between Jan. 11 and Jan. 21, jumps back in at the No. 8 spot.
Here’s the new Top 10, with last week’s rankings in parentheses:
1. Camden (1) 15-1: The Panthers have won 11 in a row. They rolled over Holy Cross Prep, 83-42, before a packed house in the Lancers’ gym Saturday. The game was a reunion of sorts, as Holy Cross coach John Valore was Camden’s coach from 2014 to ’18. Freshman D.J. Wagner led the way with 22 points and five assists. Earlier in the week, freshman forward Cornelius Robinson scored a career-best 12 points in a victory over Washington Township. Camden will play Seneca on Tuesday and Bishop Eustace on Thursday before a clash with North Jersey non-public power Gill St. Bernard’s on Saturday.
2. Wildwood Catholic (2) 13-3: West Virginia recruit Taj Thweatt went for 17 points with 12 rebounds but the Crusaders lacked their edge in a 64-44 loss to Seton Hall Prep on Saturday night at the Battle by the Bay at Atlantic City. The loss snapped Wildwood Catholic’s nine-game winning streak. The Crusaders have a busy week ahead with Cape-Atlantic League games with Pleasantville and Cape May Tech followed by a Saturday clash with North Jersey non-public power Patrick School and a Sunday date with Paul VI.
3. Timber Creek (4) 16-1: The Chargers have won eight in a row to fashion the finest start in program history. Senior guard Eric Benjamin scored 17 in a victory over Seneca and 15 in a triumph over Lenape. Senior center Demetrius Paynter went for 17 in the win over Lenape. Timber Creek will host dangerous Eastern on Tuesday and visit Cherry Hill West on Thursday.
4. St. Augustine (5) 15-3: Junior John Horner’s 23 points led the way to a 58-36 win over West Deptford on Sunday at Holy Cross Prep. On Friday night, the Hermits controlled the second half and pulled away for a 61-49 win over No. 10 Atlantic City at the Battle by the Bay. Junior forward Matt Delaney scored 19 and sophomore swingman Elmarko Jackson added 16 for the Hermits, who held a 40-24 advantage in the final 16 minutes on the Vikings’ home court. St. Augustine will play Vineland on Tuesday, ACIT on Thursday and Cherokee on Saturday.
5. Moorestown (8) 15-1: The Quakers went scoreless in the first quarter, managed just seven points in the first half and still emerged with a 27-25 win over Haddonfield in a clash of reigning state champions Saturday at a showcase event at Holy Cross Prep. Junior guard Logan Jagodzinski scored eight and senior forward Kevin Muhic grabbed eight rebounds in the taut win over Haddonfield. Moorestown, which has won 12 in a row, has a busy week ahead with games vs. Trenton Catholic, Washington Township, Willingboro and Millville.
6. Burlington City (7) 15-1: Sophomore Jamaal Morris made six three-pointers on his way to a career-high 30 in a statement victory over Penns Grove on Friday at Holy Cross Prep. Senior D.J. Woodbury added 15 points with 10 rebounds in the clash of two of the state’s top Group 1 teams. Burlington City will play cross-town rival Doane Academy on Monday, then have a rematch with Holy Cross Prep on Thursday.
7. Haddonfield (9) 15-2: The good news was that the Bulldogs held Moorestown to 27 points. The bad news was that they scored only 25. The loss Saturday in a rematch of a Tournament of Champions game last March snapped Haddonfield’s 12-game winning streak. Senior swingman Ben Cerrato led all scorers with 16 and also grabbed 13 rebounds. Haddonfield will play Colonial Conference foes Lindenwold and Collingswood this week and meet Rancocas Valley on Saturday.
8. Camden Catholic (NR) 12-4: Junior swingman Zack Hicks, a smooth, natural scorer who can connect from distance and finish at the rim, collected 27 points in the win over Westampton Tech, 24 in the win over Winslow Township and 28 in the win over Bordentown. Camden Catholic will play Shawnee on Tuesday, then have a week off before a rematch with top-ranked Camden on Feb. 11.
9. Paul VI (3) 11-5: The Eagles snapped a two-game skid with a 62-51 win over Burlington Township on Saturday. Sophomore Jaden Arline (17) and juniors Jalen Boyd-Savage (16) and Nicolo Nobili (15) led the way. Paul VI will meet Olympic National rival Woodrow Wilson on Thursday, then play fellow South Jersey non-public power Wildwood Catholic on Sunday.
10. Atlantic City (10) 14-4: Senior Quran Palms scored 23 with 10 rebounds and senior Stephen Byard added 22 points with 13 rebounds in a 91-68 win over Pleasantville on Sunday in the finale of the Battle by the Bay. Earlier in the past week, senior guard Teriq Chapman scored 15 in a victory over Egg Harbor Township. Atlantic City will play Millville on Tuesday and have a week off before a rematch with St. Augustine Prep on Feb. 11.