Take a glance at The Inquirer's preseason South Jersey boys' basketball rankings and you come to the following conclusion:

The Olympic Conference rules.

Ditto the South Jersey Non-Public A section.

Six Olympic teams are in the preseason top 10: No. 1 Camden Catholic, No. 4 Camden, No. 5 Paul VI, No. 7 Timber Creek, No. 8 Shawnee, and No. 10 Cherokee.

An Olympic Conference team has finished No. 1 in The Inquirer's rankings six of the last 10 years, including last season, when Shawnee won the NJSIAA Group 3 state title and was atop the rankings.

The Cape-Atlantic League also is heavily represented in the preseason top 10, as it has three ranked teams: No. 3 Holy Spirit, No. 6 St. Augustine, and No. 9 Atlantic City.

Rancocas Valley, the Burlington County League Liberty Division favorite, is the only ranked team that is not in the Olympic or Cape. The Red Devils start the season at No. 2.

The top 10 features four teams that will compete in the South Jersey Non-Public A tournament: No. 1 Camden Catholic, No. 3 Holy Spirit, No. 5 Paul VI, and No. 6 St. Augustine.

Dusting off my crystal ball, here is how I see the end-of-the-season NJSIAA tournament:

South Jersey Group 1


Burlington City.

Could move to the top:

Penns Grove, Woodbury, Salem and Paulsboro.

Dark horses:

Clayton, Lindenwold and Riverside.

South Jersey Group 2


Collingswood and Cinnaminson.

Could move to the top:

Sterling, Haddonfield and Pleasantville.

Dark horse:

Middle Township.

South Jersey Group 3



Could move to the top:

Timber Creek and Shawnee.

Dark horses:

Hammonton (Hammonton!), Deptford, Woodrow Wilson and Pemberton.

South Jersey Group 4


Atlantic City.

Could move to the top:

Cherokee, Eastern, Mainland and Lenape.

Dark horses:

Winslow Township, Pennsauken, Vineland and Williamstown.

South Jersey Non-Public A


Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft.

Could move to the top:

Camden Catholic, Holy Spirit, St. Augustine, Paul VI, St. Joseph's of Metuchen and Notre Dame.

Dark horses:

Gloucester Catholic, which was in Parochial B last year, and St. John Vianney.

South Jersey Non-Public B


Holy Cross, which is undoubtedly thankful it has moved from Parochial A.

Could move to the top:

Trenton Catholic, Wildwood Catholic and St. Joseph of Hammonton.

Dark horse:

St. Rose.

Central Jersey

Rancocas Valley will be one of the favorites in the Central Jersey Group 4 field, while Willingboro could make some noise in Central Jersey Group 3. Bordentown (Central Jersey Group 2) and Florence (Central Jersey Group 1) also could be factors in their respective sections.

Oh, and I reserve the right to alter my picks when the playoffs roll around.

Sam Carchidi | The Inquirer BOYS' TOP 10

Team   Record Comment


Camden Catholic

22-8    Will last season's momentum have a carryover effect?


Rancocas Valley

24-3    Red Devils should rule the Burlco Liberty . . . and maybe more.


Holy Spirit

17-9    Ryan Brooks and B.J. Bailey are among area's best duos.



20-7    Is this coach Clarence Turner's final season?


Paul VI

15-12    Hard to believe a team this good is picked third in its division.


St. Augustine

19-8    Hoping the new gym has the same atmosphere as the "Cave."


Timber Creek

15-14    Looks like one of the area's most-improved teams.



29-2    Young team will be tough to beat in the second half.


Atlantic City

23-7    Vikings have two speeds: fast and faster.



22-8    Will miss Clarence Jackson, but talent is in abundance.

Under consideration (listed alphabetically):

Cinnaminson (18-8), Collingswood (22-7), Deptford (17-8), Eastern (11-14), Haddonfield (26-5), Lenape (14-12), Mainland (13-12), Middle Township (23-6), Pennsauken (20-7), Pleasantville (16-11), Winslow Township (25-5).

- Sam Carchidi