Camden is 25-1 with 21 wins in a row.
The Panthers also are 0-0.
Paul VI is 20-6 with 10 victories in its last 11 games.
The Eagles also are 0-0.
Wildwood Catholic is 20-7 with four wins in a row, fresh off its third straight Cape-Atlantic League tournament title.
The Crusaders also are 0-0.
It’s that time of the year. The top three teams in the Inquirer’s South Jersey Top 10 are starting from scratch, same as every other team that has qualified for the various post-season tournaments.
Can Camden capture that elusive 12th state title, which the Panthers and their faithful followers have been chasing since 2000?
Can Paul VI win the Non-Public South A crown as well as a state title?
Can Wildwood Catholic take that next step and win the South B crown and capture the state title in New Jersey’s toughest group?
We’ll find out over the next two weeks, which usually is the most exciting time on the scholastic sports calendar.
Here’s the new Top 10, with last week’s ranking in parentheses:
1. Camden (1) 25-1: The Panthers rolled into the post-season with imposing victories over Timber Creek and Shawnee last week. Senior Lance Ware went for 15 points with 10 rebounds and freshman D.J. Wagner scored 28 in 85-56 win over Timber Creek. Junior Jerome Brewer scored 14 in a 75-44 win over Shawnee. Top-seeded Camden opens pursuit of the Group 2 state title with a first-round sectional game Tuesday vs. Lower Cape May.
2. Paul VI (2) 20-6: The Eagles finished the regular season with a flurry of impressive wins, beating Cherokee, Moorestown, Cherry Hill East and Timber Creek in succession. Paul VI’s lone loss over the last three weeks has been to No. 1 Camden. Senior guard Andrew Harrell scored 15 in the win over Timber Creek in the regular-season finale. Top-seeded Paul VI has a first-round bye and meets the Donovan Catholic-St. John Vianney winner Friday in its first South A game.
3. Wildwood Catholic (2) 20-7: The Crusaders looked at the top of their game in a 70-39 blitz of St. Augustine Prep in capturing their record fourth CAL tourney title Saturday at Stockton. They took a 30-10 halftime lead and cruised home behind seniors Taj Thweatt (24 points), Jahlil White (17 points, six rebounds, three steals) and Jacob Hopping (10 points, eight assists). Second-seeded Wildwood Catholic opens Non-Public South B play Tuesday vs. Moorestown Friends.
4. Moorestown (4) 24-2: Senior Evan Francisco and junior Logan Jagodzinski each scored 13 as the Quakers bounced back from a loss to Paul VI and closed the regular season with a victory over Pennsauken Tech. Top-seeded Moorestown, the reigning state champion, opens South Jersey Group 3 play Monday vs. Toms River South.
5. Timber Creek (5) 20-5: The Chargers went 4-4 after a 16-1 start but finished strong with a 50-42 win over Cherokee in the regular-season finale as senior guard Justin Bladen scored 24 points. Timber Creek, the No. 2 seed, opens South Jersey Group 3 play Monday at home vs. Pennsauken.
6. St. Augustine (6) 21-5: The Hermits struggled to match up this season with Wildwood Catholic, which handed them a second straight lopsided loss in the CAL final. But it’s worth noting that St. Augustine found itself back in the title game at Stockton thanks to a strong week that included victories over Pleasantville and Mainland in the tourney’s first two rounds. Junior Matt Delaney scored 19 in each of those victories for the Hermits. The No. 4 seed, St. Augustine will host No. 5 Bishop Eustace in the second-round of the South A tournament on Friday.
7. Haddon Heights (10) 22-4: The Garnets have won eight in a row. The team’s four losses this season were by a total of nine points. They finished the regular season with non-league wins over Williamstown and Willingboro. Senior guard Patrick Campbell scored 23 in the win over Willingboro and senior guard Dlayne Peterson generated 14 points with eight steals in the win over Williamstown. The No. 3 seed, Haddon Heights opens South Jersey Group 2 play at home vs. Medford Tech on Tuesday.
8. Lenape (NR) 18-8: The Indians shook off some mid-season blahs and finished with five victories in their final six games, with the lone loss to No. 1 Camden. Sophomore guard Derek Simpson collected 25 points with three steals and three assists in a 60-29 win over school-district rival Shawnee in the regular-season finale. Second-seeded Lenape opens South Jersey Group 4 play Tuesday vs. Millville.
9. St. Joseph (NR) 21-5: The Wildcats turned the tables on Atlantic City, which had beaten them in the season opener, in the first-round of the CAL tournament before dropping a semifinal battle with eventual champion Wildwood Catholic. The No. 5 seed, St. Joseph opens the Non-Public South B tournament Tuesday vs. 12th-seeded Ranney School, the reigning state champion as well as the Tournament of Champions winner from 2019.
10. Haddonfield (7) 22-4: The Bulldogs dropped their regular-season finale to Burlington Township despite 14 points and five rebounds by senior Ben Cerrato. Haddonfield, the two-time reigning state champion and No. 2 seed, opens South Jersey Group 2 play Tuesday vs. Pennsauken Tech. If form holds in the first two rounds, Haddonfield and No. 3 seed Haddon Heights will square off in the sectional semifinals in a rubber match for the two Colonial Conference rivals.