Paulsboro seeks elusive state title
As far as Paulsboro High School boys' basketball coach Sean Collins is concerned, his seniors' legacy is secure. "Look at all they've done," Collins said.
As far as Paulsboro High School boys' basketball coach Sean Collins is concerned, his seniors' legacy is secure.
"Look at all they've done," Collins said.
In the last four seasons, Paulsboro has won 112 games, four Colonial Conference Patriot Division titles, three South Jersey Group 1 titles, and several feature games in showcase events against high-profile teams such as Paul VI, Atlantic City, and Camden.
The one thing the Red Raiders have not done is win a state title.
They get the chance to fill in that one blank Sunday at 5 p.m. in the Group 1 state championship game against University of Newark.
Paulsboro, the South Jersey champion, is 29-2 with 25 wins in its last 26 games. University, the North I champion and the Group 1 state champion in 2009 and 2010, is 14-13, with seven straight victories.
"We feel like this is our year," Paulsboro senior guard Brandon Hamilton said after the team's 51-50 win over Shore Regional in the state semifinals Thursday.
Paulsboro seniors Theo Holloway and Saleem Little have been varsity regulars for four seasons. They have a chance to cement their status as two of the more accomplished athletes in the program's history in the state championship game at Rutgers.
"It means a lot," Holloway said of the opportunity to win a state title as a senior. "This has been our goal, the one thing we haven't done and the one thing that we said we were going to do. Now we have our chance."
Said Little: "It's been our goal from the start. We're not stopping now."
Despite Paulsboro's consistent success over the last four years, Collins is aware that some observers still believe the Red Raiders' seniors need to win a state championship to "solidify" their legacy.
"It's the way we are in our society today - it's all about winning, all about winning a state championship," Collins said. "Being consistently good, getting there every year, playing at a consistently high level, that's not good enough for some people.
"It's like with the Eagles. I'm an Eagles fan, and it's Super Bowl or nothing. Well, the state championship is the Super Bowl."
The thrilling victory over Shore Regional in a game that wasn't decided until the final buzzer marked the clearance of a significant hurdle for Paulsboro. In 2012 and 2013, Paulsboro lost in the state semifinals.
They will be making their first appearance in the championship game since winning the title behind football star Kevin Harvey in 1996.
"We've been playing for this all year, all the past years," Hamilton said. "We're going to go up there [to Rutgers] and prove that we can win the championship."