By Jerome Michaels
SJSports Special Correspondent
Normally a basketball game is decided after four quarters has been played with the stronger team outscoring the weaker team. There are times, not too many of them, when a fiercely competitive competition between two equally talented teams can’t decide the winner after thirty-two minutes has been played. So how does one explain the results when double overtime is needed to decide the winner? The Camden Panthers and the Chimeras from Willingboro were those teams looking to capture the South Jersey Group III championship being played at Eastern High School. The Panthers finally ended the game, outlasting Willingboro in double overtime by one point, 72-71 to claim the title.
Willingboro had an easy time getting to S.J. Group III finals by defeating 14th seeded Williamstown and 6th seeded Kingsway at home and 2nd seeded Deptford on the road. Each of those victories were double-digit wins as the Chimeras rolled their way through the bracket to get to this game. As for the Panthers, their only easy win was against the 12th seeded Toms River South boy’s basketball team during the second round. Their other two games against Oakcrest (seeded 13th) and Woodrow Wilson (1st seed) were a bit more competitive.
Neither team wanted to lose this game, as it was quite evident on the court. Every player during the final minutes of regulation was still working hard looking to establish that slight edge to determine the winner. Joe McLean for Willingboro and Shomari Moore for Camden were both putting on a highly entertaining show. During the first half of this game, Willingboro was in control of this game leading 25-18 with 3:49 remaining in the second quarter. The second half was a different story as the Panthers were able to tie the game at 34 all in the third, and then take their first lead of the game. The quarter ended with Camden holding a slight lead, 41-40.
Both teams came up with some big baskets during the final minutes of regulation that sent this title game into overtime. Nothing would change during the first overtime period, as these two teams needed more minutes to settle who would outlast the other. Camden would finally hold a four-point lead with the clock winding down. That would be good enough to hold for their one point win. Shomari Moore scored a team high 24 points for Camden with Wayne Smalls dropping in 16 points and Dwight Cass contributing 11 points. Willingboro’s Joe McLean scored a game high 31 points, Dawan Browning answered with 11 points and James Provott finished with 10 points.