Staff writer Phil Anastasia projects the group champions for the boys' and girls' basketball seasons:
Group 4: Shawnee. The Renegades are masters at controlling tempo, and senior Joe Bodnar is one of South Jersey's best three-point shooters. Atlantic City looms with a skyline of a front line, and Chris Santo-led Cherry Hill East will light up the scoreboard. Goldey Beacom-bound Curtis Hopkins leads Williamstown, a dark horse.
Group 3: Kingsway. Three sectional titles in a row for this Gloucester County power? Why not? Senior guard Rondell Gilmore is used to winning these titles, and this deep, experienced team has gained plenty of confidence the last two seasons.
Group 2: Middle Township. This group is absolutely loaded, with former Central Jersey Group 3 power Lakewood in the mix along with defending champion Collingswood, Haddonfield, Cinnaminson, Willingboro, and Medford Tech. Middle Township gets the edge with a veteran group led by Marcus Harmon, Shia Henry, and Moorestown transfer Garrett Kerr.
Group 1: Pitman. Don't count out perennial powers Paulsboro and Woodbury. But the Panthers have a veteran team with a dynamic duo in guard Luke Dickson and forward Dylan Colgate.
Non-Public A: St. Augustine Prep. This is another crowded field. Defending champion Camden Catholic is rebuilding, but Paul VI, Bishop Eustace, Christian Brothers, St. Joseph of Metuchen, and Monsignor Donovan will be right there. St. Augustine rates the narrow edge, based on the playmaking ability of Marist-bound senior guard Isaiah Morton.
Non-Public B: Trenton Catholic. Led by Delaware-bound Khalid Lewis-El, the defending Tournament of Champions winners will be among best teams in the state again.
Group 4: Cherry Hill East. This might be South Jersey's most unpredictable group. Lenape and Washington Township should be in contention, along with Ocean County power Jackson. The Cougars rate the early edge based on senior forward Marie Boisvert, who averaged 15.5 points as a junior.
Group 3: Ocean City. Sophomore forward Julia Duggan averaged 10 points and 10 boards as a freshman. Timber Creek will challenge, with Quinnipiac-bound guard Jasmine Martin leading the way. Watch out for Seneca, too.
Group 2: Sterling. The Silver Knights can compete with any team in South Jersey, thanks to the veteran backcourt of Monica Burch and Kylie O'Donnell. Watch out for Willingboro, with sophomore center Micahya Owens, as well as Haddonfield.
Group 1: Haddon Township. The Hawks move down from Group 2 and feature standout senior Jess Brown and several other top players. Watch out for Salem with slick senior guard Shaqui Coppage, as well as Gloucester with top senior forward Gabrielle Cooper.
Non-Public A: St. John Vianney. This perennial power returns four starters from a team that reached the Tournament of Champions final. Camden Catholic and Holy Spirit will challenge.
Non-Public B: Trenton Catholic. Rutgers-bound Briyona Canty, a Willingboro resident, is one of the state's best players. The Mikes, the three-time and defending state champions, have two other Division I-bound seniors in Miah Register (Richmond) and Queen Tiye Jackson (Old Dominion).
CENTRAL JERSEY BOYS
Rancocas Valley has a deep, talented team and will be strong contenders in Group 4, especially if senior Elijah Burley recovers from a wrist injury. Pennsauken could challenge in Group 4 behind forward Frank Small. New Egypt, with 6-9 senior Desmond Hubert, and Burlington City should be in the mix in Group 1.
CENTRAL JERSEY GIRLS