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By Phil Anastasia
Inquirer Columnist
It was a defensive game, Kendall White’s kind of game.

The twist last night was that Rancocas Valley’s defensive ace made his biggest impact at the offensive end.

Oh, White was up to his usual tricks at the other end, pressuring the basketball, clogging the lanes, drawing two of the five offensive fouls the Red Devils took against Williamstown.

“That’s what our team is all about, taking charges,” White said.

Still, it was at the other end of the court where White made the biggest difference on this cold night inside Rancocas Valley’s gymnasium. The 6-foot-4 senior scored 18 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, as the Red Devils emerged with a 62-54 victory in an entertaining and competitive clash of South Jersey Group 4 heavyweights.

“Kendall took over the game,” said Rancocas Valley coach Jay Flanagan, whose 2-0 team is No. 2 in The Inquirer Top 10.

As the defending Group 4 state champions, Rancocas Valley can expect every opponent’s best punch. But the Red Devils knew what to expect from Williamstown, which lost in overtime to Rancocas Valley last season.

Last night’s game had that look for long stretches, as neither team was able to generate much in the way of offensive continuity. It was the game both coaches wanted – and expected: two teams playing tight man-to-man defense, denying every pass, battling every possession.

“I know Jay, and he knows me,” Williamstown coach Bill Hunt said. “We played 99 percent man defense and so do they. You knew it was going to be a good, hard-nosed game, with neither team giving an inch.” 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 »

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