|High School Basketball:
Camden Defeats St. Augustine at Liacouras Center
Sunday, January 14, 2001
By Gregory "Graig" White
SJSports Staff Writer
As I travel over the Benjamin Franklin bridge, on my way to the Liacouras Center in Philly to watch the top teams in South Jersey play, the anticipation of the type of game I was to see was thought provoking. I hadn't seen either team all season was going on the hype I had been hearing.
As the teams prepared to play, I saw a confidant St. Augustine team. A team that look every bit the part of powerhouse. As Camden got ready it was hard for me to gauge which team I would see. Would it be the team that is going through South Jersey like it has something to prove, or would it be the team that should up last year in the same tournament and got thumped.
Once the game started it was easy to tell who was who. These two teams played with an intensity that let everyone in the building know this thing was serious. The game got off to a fast start, St. Augustine scored first, and then it happened. On a pass from Shomari Moore that was easily from half court, DaJuan Wagner hit a reverse dunk that brought applause, even from their opponents supporters. Both teams were very active on both ends of the floor as no one wanted to get shown up, the tempo of the game seemed to be going in the favor of St. Augustine until Eric Davis got a pass, went baseline, two dribbles later hit a thunderous dunk that brought the Camden faithful to their feet. With all that said and done the first quarter ended with The Hermits leading 15- 10.
The second quarter started with a 10-2 run by Camden. Shots were coming from all over drives to the baskets, long jumpers, the Panthers played with a sense of working to get everyone involved, the run was also fueled by great defense. Defense that saw people sitting in the first few rows under the baskets, had to be carefully, plenty of shots were landing in their laps. The Hermits seemed to get a little cold as the shots that were falling earlier were now turning into rebounds. Camden outscored the Hermits 20-14 and took a 30-29 lead into half time.
As the 3rd quarter started it came to me, the point guard for Camden who played well in the first half seemed a little young. Upon further inspection I came to find out that Shomari Moore is just a freshman. Mr. Moore handled himself, the Panther offense, the Hermit defense and the fact that the game was being televised locally very well. If Shomari is the future of the program at "The High" Coach Jackson, relax, things will be just fine.
St. Augustine came out a little "chippy", Olu and Eric were not backing off each other, both wanting the other to know who was the man. Camden playing a 1-3-1 With Wagner at the top seemed to have the Hermit guards hesitant, that's when Jose Gonzalez seem to step up he played well and complimented Olu play in the paint. But it seemed that whenever St. Augustine was poised to make a run the Panthers had an answer and by the end of quarter Camden stretched its lead to 42-37.
The last quarter saw Camden sense they had the Hermits on the ropes and went for the knockout. Camden put on its running shoes and went to work, the speed at which they played the 4th quarter in was amazing. The teams played with pride and emotion, which almost bubbled over a couple of times as Eric Davis and Olu Barbell traded elbows. Cooler heads prevailed and it went no further. Wagner finished with a game high 38 and the MVP Trophy, but I think that the most important thing after the 68-53 Camden victory was the fact that the demons of last year's tournament had been laid to rest.