Matt Schultz had one thought after his first game as Cherokee's head basketball coach: This isn't so tough.
He was just joking. After 15 years as a football assistant and 12 years as a basketball assistant, Schultz knows the challenges of varsity competition.
But he was pleased with his team's performance in its first game. The Chiefs showed some strong defense and got points from nine players in a 61-34 victory over Woodrow Wilson on Friday night.
"It's only one game, and we're definitely a work in progress," said Schultz, who replaced coach Ron Powell, "but I was definitely happy with the outcome. We got contributions from a lot of guys."
Cherokee lost all five starters from last season's Group 4 state championship team, including the standout backcourt of Willis Nicholson and Christian Jordan. The only returning player with significant varsity experience is senior guard Bryan Cooper, who scored 21 points Friday.
But Schultz said some players were ready to emerge. One might be senior point guard Denzell Bond, a junior-varsity player last season who scored nine points in a strong debut Friday.
"He did a great job of controlling the tempo and getting us in our offense," Schultz said.
The Chiefs and their new coach will jump right into the fire Monday night, visiting No. 3 Shawnee at 7.
Creek rising. Timber Creek showed some moxie in twice rallying from double-digit deficits to push No. 8 Cherry Hill East to the brink in a 56-53 loss Friday.
The Chargers have a top player in 6-foot senior guard Mikal Demby, whose creative play forced Cherry Hill East to switch to a diamond-and-one defense on several possessions.
"He's one of the most explosive players I've seen at this level," Timber Creek coach Bill Fahy said.
Most encouraging for Timber Ceek was the play of sophomore forwards Sameen Swint and Dajaun Drennon, especially in the fourth quarter. Swint scored five of his 12 and Drennon five of his 11 in the final eight minutes.
"The sky is the limit for a kid like Sameen Swint," Fahy said. "Once his body matures and he starts getting stronger after lifting weights, he really could be something special."
Postponed game. Friday night's highly anticipated Cape-Atlantic League game between No. 5 Middle Township and Lower Cape May was stopped midway in the first quarter because of unsafe playing conditions on the Cape Tigers' court.
The game drew a capacity crowd, and fans from both teams had tracked mud and water onto the court. Officials tried to dry the floor, but the game was called with Middle Township holding a 5-4 lead with 3 minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
The game will be replayed in its entirety at a date to be determined.
Deep thoughts. Depth made the difference for Pennsauken in the Indians' 54-51 upset of then-No. 5 Bishop Eustace Prep on Friday night.
The Indians got a big lift in the fourth quarter from two reserves as junior guard Jordan Williams hit a big three-point jumper and delivered two key assists and senior forward Elijah Maxwell scored all five of his points.
"We needed everybody to win this game," Pennsauken first-year coach Jonathan Taylor said.
Improved Eagles. West Deptford is 0-2 after a hard-fought 37-30 loss to 2-0 Holy Cross on Saturday.
But Eagles coach John Clark sees a vast difference between this team and the one that last season went 2-23, including 0-16 in the Colonial Conference.
"We're starting to create a little bit of an identity, playing hard, playing good defense," Clark said.
He credited seniors Jordan Haines and Pat McShane for their leadership. The Eagles also have a promising freshman in guard Justin Hansen, who came off the bench to score 13 against Holy Cross.
Filling the sheet. Bridgeton senior guard Frank Nock scored a career-high 33 points Friday night in a 76-53 victory over Buena, going 15 for 19 from the field with 10 assists, eight rebounds, five steals, and four blocks. He scored 22 points Saturday in a 69-53 loss to Willingboro.
Looking ahead. Among the top games this week are Collingswood at Cinnaminson in a clash of South Jersey Group 2 contenders 6:15 p.m. Monday, Willingboro at Rancocas Valley in a Burlington County battle at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, and Williamstown at Kingsway in the first of two Tri-County Royal showdowns at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.