It's not easy for a Group 1 team to finish in the No. 1 spot in the South Jersey rankings.
The Paulsboro High School boys' basketball team managed the feat this season by winning 30 of its first 32 games, beating two South Jersey sectional champions and dominating a North Jersey power in the state final.
Paulsboro (30-2) jumped to No. 1 in the final rankings largely because the Red Raiders were the only South Jersey team to win a state championship - and also because they defeated two of the three other South Jersey teams that won sectional championships.
Paulsboro did not play a challenging schedule. The Red Raiders went 17-1 in Colonial Conference competition, losing to No. 7 Haddonfield, 53-51, in a Feb. 19 game that leading scorer Theo Holloway missed with an injury.
Paulsboro's best nonleague victories against South Jersey opponents were against Camden, the South Jersey Group 2 champion, and Winslow Township, the South Jersey Group 3 champion.
The Red Raiders also won the state championship in emphatic fashion. Paulsboro beat University, a Newark-based team that won state titles in 2009 and 2010, by 78-48 Sunday at Rutgers.
"We showed what kind of team we are," Paulsboro senior guard Brandon Hamilton said after the impressive victory.
That 30-point win in the state final moved Paulsboro ahead of St. Augustine (27-2), which finished second in the rankings. The Hermits won 22 in a row before falling to Christian Brothers in the Non-Public South A final.
Cherry Hill East (26-6) took the No. 3 spot after winning South Jersey Group 4 and advancing to the state title game. The Cougars solidified their status with a 66-56 road win over No. 6 Atlantic City (21-6) in the sectional semifinals.
Camden Catholic (25-4) edged rival Camden (25-7) for the No. 4 spot based on the Irish's pair of two-point wins over the Panthers in the regular season.