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While standards are always high for the Camden Catholic boys’ basketball team, coach Jim Crawford is a realist.

The bar that is set in December differs from those in January, February and, more important, March, when the Irish have made a habit of enjoying extended seasons.

So in addition to the leaks that must be plugged, Crawford saw plenty of positive signs in last night’s 65-53 win over visiting Timber Creek in an interdivisional Olympic Conference game.

The play at times was choppy, and the Irish committed six turnovers in the second quarter and five in the third.

Still, they beat a quality Timber Creek team despite the usual growing pains in the beginning of a season.

“Coach told us after the game that there are things we have to work on,” said senior Jahseer Bronson, who scored 15 points and is already looking comfortable at point guard after playing shooting guard last year.

Still, Crawford wasn’t down on the effort. One of his top scorers, junior forward Tim Crawford, his nephew, was in foul trouble and held to four points.

Fellow 6-foot-6 junior Gerry Wixted picked up the slack with 25 points and 12 rebounds while shooting 8 for 12 from the field. Junior guard Anthony D’Orazio scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half.

“I am not disappointed in our performance,” Crawford said. “I am understanding of it.” Read the rest of this entry »

Camden’s opening 78-69 boys’ basketball win over Bishop Eustace was far from a flawless performance for the winners, but the first impression indicates the Panthers should be a dangerous team in Group 2.

Camden still has to work on its defense. While playing mainly zone, the Panthers allowed too many open jumpshots. When Camden went to man-to-man, Eustace was able to backdoor the Panthers with regularity.

Still, this is a young Camden team that is only going to get better. And what was most impressive is how unselfish Aaron Walton-Moss was.

He scored 20 points, but only took 16 shots and at times it seemed like he could take it to the hoop, only to pass to a teammate.

The 6-foot-2 Walton-Moss is powerful and quick. He needs to work on his handle, but there are few players in South Jersey who can stop him when he gets a head of steam while going to the basket.

Vinny Walls is a streaky shooter and sophomore Hubert Simons scored 18 points in the opener and looks like he can be an inside threat.

Probably a fourth double-figure scorer will have to be developed.

Again, there is a lot of work to do, but what team is polished in December? There will be nights when Walton-Moss will need to score 40 and he will oblige. For now, he’s trying to set the trend as the unselfish leader.

And with somebody like Walton-Moss leading the way, Camden should be vastly improved from last year’s 14-9 team.

– Marc Narducci

By Marc Narducci
Inquirer Staff Writer

Camden senior Aaron Walton-Moss didn’t force the issue, but he helped decide it. Last year’s South Jersey scoring leader with a 25.9 average, Walton scored 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter as Camden earned a 77-68 win over visiting Bishop Eustace in yesterday’s opening game for both Olympic Conference National Division basketball teams.

Ranked No. 9 in South Jersey by The Inquirer, Camden is a young team, and Walton-Moss is more than willing to provide the leadership.

For the game, the 6-foot-2 Walton-Moss, who said Temple and Texas-El Paso are showing the most interest in him, shot 10 for 16 from the field. He also contributed seven rebounds, four assists and four steals.

In the critical fourth quarter in which Camden outscored Eustace, 24-18, Walton-Moss hit all five of his shots.

“I don’t want them to depend solely on me, so I wanted to make sure everybody got involved,” Walton-Moss said. “I also want Vinny to know what it’s like to take big shots because he’s going to have to.”

He was referring to junior guard Vinny Walls, who had a team-high 24 points. Walls isn’t bashful about taking a big shot – or any shot, for that matter. He hit 9 of 22 from the field, including 6 of 12 from beyond the arc. So Walls isn’t about to get dejected after missing a few shots.

“My dad was here, and he said keep playing hard,” Walls said.
Read the rest of this entry »

By Phil Anastasia
Inquirer Columnist

Mike Stargell coaches in a gymnasium named after his predecessor.
His players run beneath banners and plaques that commemorate the most-famous basketball program in South Jersey.

Stargell and the members of the Camden High School basketball team are looking to the future, but the past is everywhere: Tradition is ingrained in those old, tiled walls in Clarence Turner Gymnasium.

“Camden High basketball has one of the strongest traditions I’ve ever seen,” Stargell said. “If I go anywhere, nationwide, and mention Camden High basketball, people take notice.”

Stargell wasn’t complaining. He was celebrating.

He knows he has “big shoes to fill” as the new Camden coach, as the relative unknown who has replaced Turner, as the man in charge of the most-fabled program in South Jersey.

But to Stargell, Camden’s rich history is a help, not a hindrance. His players know the standard that has been set for them. He knows it, too.

“I’ve been around this program for a long time,” Stargell said. “I know Camden High School basketball. I’m not trying to set a new direction. I’m just trying to continue what Coach Turner established here.

“He’s the reason I have this job. This opportunity arose for me because of him.” Read the rest of this entry »

Aaron Walton, with Camden last year, has been cleared to play again for the Panthers and is already practicing with the team.  Photo by Clem Murray

Aaron Walton, with Camden last year, has been cleared to play again for the Panthers and is already practicing with the team. Photo by Clem Murray

By Marc Narducci
Inquirer Staff Writer

Aaron Walton, an Inquirer first-team all-South Jersey basketball selection, has returned to Camden for his senior year after briefly attending Life Center Academy in Florence Township.

According to Camden coach Mike Stargell, Walton is immediately eligible and has been practicing with the team.

“He never participated at Life Center,” Stargell said yesterday. “He has been cleared to play for us by the NJSIAA.”

Walton attended Life Center for about a month, according to Life Center first-year coach Wilson Arroyo.

“Aaron is a great kid, and we wish him the best, but things just didn’t work out for him here,” Arroyo said.

Life Center is a non-NJSIAA school that plays a high-caliber schedule. The Warriors are 2-1 this season, with the loss to national power Oak Hill Academy.

Walton, a 6-foot-2 swingman, led South Jersey in scoring last season with an average of 25.9 points per game.

With his return and a number of promising young players, Camden looks to be a serious contender in South Jersey Group 2.

During the summer, Walton and Daryus Quarles of Paulsboro transferred to Life Center. Quarles, a 6-6 junior, has stayed at Life Center and, according to Arroyo, is drawing strong recruiting interest.

“Florida, Kansas, you name it,” Arroyo said. “He has been doing great here.”

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