They had the lead in the fourth quarter of the state championship game. Again.

They missed some key free throws and rushed a couple of shots from the floor. Again.

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They lost to Newark Tech in the Group 2 final. Again.

"Last year it was there and they stole it," Camden coach John Valore said. "This year it was there and they stole it."

History repeated itself in frustrating fashion Sunday for the Camden High School boys' basketball team in a 57-51 loss to Newark Tech in the Group 2 title game at the Rutgers Athletic Center.

For the second year in a row, Camden moved to the brink of capturing the fabled program's 12th state title - and first since 2000. For the second year in a row, Camden entered the fourth quarter with a lead over Newark Tech.

For the second year in a row, the North Jersey team controlled the game's final eight minutes and sent Camden's players, coaches and enthusiastic fans back down the New Jersey Turnpike with a disappointing loss.

"I can't believe it happened," Camden senior Rasool Hinson said after the final game of his career.

The loss was Camden's third in three years in the state final. Camden also lost in the Group 3 final in 2013.

"Three years in a row - that's real tough," said Camden senior Will McCants. "I thought this year we had it."

Senior guard Mustafa Lawrence scored 15 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter for Newark Tech (15-13), which won its third straight Group 2 state title.

Hinson scored 17 with eight rebounds for Camden (25-7).

The Panthers shot just 17 for 31 from the foul line and just 4 for 20 from three-point range. Newark Tech, by comparison, was 14 for 16 from the foul line in the second half, including 10 for 11 in the fourth quarter.

"We started the year 10 for 21 [from the line in a loss to Eastern] and we ended it 17 for 31," Valore said. "It's been the same story in every one of our seven losses this year."

Camden juniors Brad Hawkins and Jamal Holloway spent large stretches of the game on the bench in foul trouble. "It was hard to watch," said Holloway, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, who was limited to 19 minutes by foul trouble.

Hawkins, the team's second-leading scorer and most explosive offensive player, was on the floor for just 22 minutes and fouled out with 4 minutes, 35 seconds remaining in the game. "It was tough, but I got myself in that situation," he said.

"It was last year once again, no question about it," Valore said.

Camden 12 15 14 10 - 51

Newark Tech 17 8 10 22 - 57

C: Brad Hawkins 6, Jamal Holloway 7, Rasool Hinson 17, Will McCants 4, Myles Thompson 7, Tory Whiting 6, Dustin Singleton 4.

NT: Jordan Zagadou 18, Mustafa Lawrence 28, Jalah Wemusa 2, C.J. Webb 7, Jurod Page 2.

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