Tuesday, March 8, 2005
By Jerome Michaels
Let there be no mistake that the Panthers from Camden High were ready to get back the title that they had own for so many years. What most thought that this would be another Camden-Woodrow Wilson classic battle on the hard court turned out to be a Cinderella story for Ocean City. The Red Devils from Ocean City boy’s basketball team were the ones responsible for Wilson not making it to the South Jersey Group 3 finals as they defeated them in overtime by a single point. But that story would turn out to being an expected ending for the Panthers as they claimed the title yet again in front of a capacity crowd at Eastern High School. Teron Murray along with Kevin Payton led the top seeded Panthers to a 70-42 victory over third seeded Ocean City.
This was the first time since the 1999-2000 season Woodrow Wilson and Camden did not meet at anytime during the group playoffs. During those past four years, the two teams have alternated picking up the win which resulted in Camden winning two titles and Wilson one title. The two only met once during the finals and that was last year as Wilson was the winner in that contest. But this year there would not be that cross city rivalry played as the Red Devils had defeated Wilson during the quarterfinals on their home court.
Camden high octane offense went right to work in the first quarter dominating the play both offensively and defensively. What was most impressive was the Panthers’ defense as they shut down Ocean City’s offense during the opening quarter. Camden’s pressure defense resulted in twenty-five first quarter points which held the Red Devils to just nine. It was pretty much the same during the next quarter as Ocean City found they were trailing 42-15 at halftime. The Panthers game plan of shutting down Ocean City’s center Dave Beyel and guard Phil Schaffer was successful early on.
Even though the two teams played evenly during the second half, Camden’s lead was never in jeopardy. Ocean City would make a few runs at cutting into their deficit, but just could not slow down Camden’s offense. Teron Murray led all scorers with 30 points while Kevin Payton was not far behind scoring 27 points for the Panthers. Ocean City was led by Dave Beyel who finished the game with 9 points.