Vince Walls practices the clutch shot he hit yesterday afternoon.
The celebration that followed was pure improvisation.
Walls drilled a three-pointer with less than two minutes remaining that broke a tie and propelled fourth-ranked Camden to a 59-51 win over top-ranked Camden Catholic in an Olympic National Division contest in Cherry Hill.
With the game tied at 50, Walls, a sophomore, delivered the biggest shot of the game when he nailed the three-pointer from the right side of the key.
"I just had to set my feet, just like I've been taught by my coaches," Walls said. "I was thinking about that, and focusing on the basket."
Walls, who finished with a team-high 24 points, jumped high into the air after the ball went through the net, sensing his shot was going to prove to be a big one.
"We have a lot of confidence in Vince," Camden forward Aaron Walton said. "We had confidence in him last year as a freshman. That's what he can do."
Camden Catholic (2-1) jumped out to an 8-1 lead and led by as many as 10 points when Anthony D'Orazio's three-pointer to start the third quarter put the Irish up, 17-7.
The Irish controlled the early going thanks to the play of a frontline that features three players - Tyler DeLeece, Gerry Wixted and Tim Crawford - who stand between 6-foot-4 and 6-6. Wixted was able to get into the middle of the Camden zone and find his frontline mates along the baseline. He finished with 19 points; Crawford added 15.
"I think both guys played very well," Camden Catholic coach Jim Crawford said of Wixted and Crawford, both sophomores. "This was really their first big game. They are going to learn from it."
The Panthers (2-0) changed the flow of the game in the second quarter by employing a full-court press and tenacious offensive rebounding. Camden tied the game, 17-17, in less than four minutes, as senior guard Garry Simmons had four points, a steal, and three rebounds during the stretch.
"We play together as a team," said Walton, who chipped in 14 points. "We're not looking at one person. We've been playing together for a long time, and we know what everyone can do."
The Panthers took their first lead at the end of the second quarter when Walton converted a layup. Camden led by as many as eight in the fourth quarter.
DeLeece nailed two free throws, and D'Orazio, fouled on a three-point attempt, sank three more as Camden Catholic trimmed the deficit to 44-42.
Camden Catholic's Jahseer Bronson made his only bucket of the game with just over two minutes remaining to tie it at 50, and the Panthers quickly called time out.
"We have some young guys on the team and we wanted to make sure they weren't shocked out there," said Simmons, a senior. "We came back out and executed the way the coaches wanted us to."
Walls knocked down his tie-breaking shot on the next possession. From there, the Panthers buckled down.
Camden 7 18 17 17 - 59
Camden Catholic 14 9 13 15 - 51
CA: Aaron Walton 14, Charles Watkins 2, Vince Walls 24, Garry Simmons 17, Germir Pitts 2.