This will be the final time that Paul Bellamy and many of South Jersey's top senior basketball players will represent their school, and there are sure to be some emotions.
Yet for Bellamy, a 6-foot-3 swingman from Cherokee, his goals won't change when he takes the court Sunday at 3 p.m. for the Albert J. Carino Boys Basketball Club of South Jersey all-star game at Rutgers-Camden.
"I want to play well my last high school game, and I definitely want to try to win the game," said Bellamy, who will play for the West team.
It's only an all-star game, yet Bellamy is most concerned about winning, an attitude he surely helped foster at Cherokee.
Bellamy averaged 19.5 points, five rebounds and just under two steals for a Cherokee team that advanced to the South Jersey Group 4 final for the second straight year.
He will leave with part of a championship. Cherokee, Cherry Hill East and Lenape shared the competitive Olympic Conference American Division title. The Chiefs finished with a 19-10 record and should be competitive next year if they can somehow replace the offense of Bellamy, who surpassed the 1,000-point mark this year.
"From year to year, he kept getting better," Cherokee coach Matt Shultz said.
Bellamy is one of those players who allows his actions do the talking. He just goes about his business in a quietly effective manner. Yet it's his explosiveness on the court that screams out at people.
"He's a dream to coach," Shultz said. "He gives everything he has and he doesn't talk much, but always does what you ask him to do."
The all-star game is of particular interest for players like Bellamy, who hasn't made a college decision. Shultz says he is an accomplished student, and he has drawn interest from Division II and III schools. No doubt there will be several schools from those divisions at the game.
It would be easy for somebody like Bellamy to chuck up one shot after another in order to gain some attention, but that's not the way he plays the game. Sure, he is like anybody who wants to impress the scouts, but it will come on his terms, and in the manner that worked so effectively at Cherokee.
"I just want to go out and have fun and play my game and play hard," he said.
The emphasis was on playing hard. In his final high-school playoff game, a wild 48-39 double-overtime championship loss to host Cherry Hill East in a packed gymnasium, both Bellamy and his team showed resiliency.
Cherokee trailed by 14 points early in the second half before pushing East to the absolute limit.
"It was a great atmosphere," Bellamy recalled.
And even though it wasn't the result he wanted, Bellamy could appreciate the setting. That frenzied atmosphere is one of the things he will miss most about playing high school basketball, that and being with his teammates.
"I will miss it," he said. "I will miss playing with my friends and will miss teammates and coaches."
And no doubt they will miss him as much.
Bellamy, who earlier played in the state all-star game, will do all he can to avoid getting sentimental during his final time representing his high school.
As far as he is concerned, there is a game to be played, and that means a game to try to win. That never changes, and it's this type of mind-set that earned him a spot in this prestigious game, a star among stars whose main goal is to leave the gym with one final W.