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Winslow Township’s boys did not have the easiest basketball opener. With no returning starters, the Eagles had to face defending South Jersey Group 3 champion Timber Creek, which was ranked No. 5 in The Inquirer’s preseason South Jersey top 10.The lack of experience apparently did not mean a whole lot as Winslow Township defeated the Chargers, 51-50, in one of the more remarkable showings of the opening weekend.

“We have had some on-the-job training and I think the guys responded,” Winslow coach Chris Martin said.

According to Martin, the defensive job done by his only senior starter, 6-foot-2 Darrell Brown, was a key. Brown guarded Navy recruit Montez Blair and held him to nine points.

Timber Creek was led by two sophomores, 6-6 Shawn Valentine, who had 21 points, and 5-11 Bill Belton, who added 13.

Young team. Bishop Eustace’s boys had four freshmen see action in Friday’s opening 77-68 loss to Camden. Forward Dexter Harris started and classmates Carson Purlefoy, Sho DaSilva and Will Lennon saw action off the bench.

“We like our freshman class,” Eustace coach Bob Falconiero said.

He also likes his juniors, led by 6-2 Pat Vasturia, who has scored 53 points in the first two games for the 1-1 Crusaders.

Big win, tough injury. Gloucester Catholic had one of the most impressive girls’ victories of the opening weekend with a 56-48 win over defending Tri-County Diamond Division champion Glassboro.

However, the Rams are now on pins and needles waiting to know the status of sophomore point guard Alex Balara, who suffered a leg injury late in the game.

It was originally feared that she broke her leg, but coach Lisa Gedaka said X-rays were negative. Balara will undergo an MRI exam today.

“She was playing so well,” Gedaka said of her point guard.

Gloucester Catholic received a balanced effort, with five players scoring from eight to 12 points. Junior Marisa Kinsley led the Rams with 12.

Nearing a milestone. Haddon Township girls’ coach Tom Mulligan could be hitting a milestone right after Christmas. Mulligan has 298 career wins. The Hawks (2-0) host Camden Charter Academy today and then meet Triton in the Clearview Tournament on Saturday.

Quron Pratt, an Inquirer first-team all-South Jersey defensive back from Palmyra, made an oral commitment yesterday to attend Rutgers.

Pratt made an unofficial visit yesterday to Rutgers and told the coaching staff of his decision before going home.

“I liked everything about Rutgers, what Greg Schiano has done. Plus it’s close to home, and my family, who have always supported me, can get to my games,” Pratt said last night.

Pratt said he would make his official visit to Rutgers on Jan. 23.

Besides Rutgers, Pratt also made official visits to Delaware and Pittsburgh. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Pratt was recruited as a defensive back, although he was told that Rutgers wouldn’t discount the idea of playing him at wide receiver.

A top athlete who is also the starting point guard in basketball, Pratt set the Palmyra career record with 20 interceptions. He picked off four passes this season and also had 10 touchdown receptions in leading Palmyra to a 9-1 record and the Burlco/Olympic Freedom Division title.

According to NCAA rules, a high school football player can’t officially sign a letter of intent until Feb. 4.

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.
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