PAULSBORO – For the past four seasons, the Camden High School boys basketball team has fallen only a handful of plays short of winning a state championship.
Last season, the Panthers had a missing ingredient that could have made the difference when point guard Corey Greer was lost for the season with a knee injury that required surgery to fix.
This year, however, Greer is back, saying he feels just as good, if not better, than he did prior the injury.
“It feels good to be back on the court and be able to contribute again,” Greer said. “It was a long year, but now I’m doing what I can to help the team.
With Greer’s help, Camden is off to a 5-1 start including Monday’s 82-39 romp of St. Thomas More of Magnolia, Del. as part of the Jack Byrd Martin Luther King Day Showcase at Paulsboro High School.
Greer, a senior point guard, pumped in 24 points, showing off both his driving ability, as well as he long-range game, both of which complement his passing and defensive skills.
“He is the leader of the team,” said Camden coach John Valore. “As he goes, we go. He makes good decisions with the basketball. He knows the sets we’re in and he plays exceptional defense. Overall, he brings the good part of the game that we’re looking for over the course of a game.”
Neither Valore nor Greer have any fear about the player putting out a maximum effort on the court. According to Valore, Greer has no medical restrictions on him.
“I don’t have any pain or nothing,” Greer confirmed. “I’m back.”
That comes as good news to his coach and teammates.
“Corey is now ready to play as hard as he can,” the coach said. “He can give maximum effort every game. What we get is what you’re seeing.”
There is little doubt the Panthers were a depleted team without Greer last season.
When he went out, it shifted the whole way Camden intended to play offense. The injury created the need to shift John Evans (who has since graduated) from the off-guard to the point. Though Evans made the transition nicely, it was not the same team.
“Corey was missed,” Valore said. “John Evans did a phenomenal job for us last year, but he was out of position. With him as the shooting guard and Corey as the point guard, you had something exceptional.”
Now, even though Evans is gone, Camden gives the appearance of being a more complete team. They get a lot of inside help from veteran Myles Thompson, who scored 12 points on Monday, and there is a lot of depth throughout the roster.
“I feel like we’re getting better every game,” said Greer. “We’re playing better defense and on offense, we’ve got a lot of weapons, so scoring’s not going to be a problem.”
However, Thompson says Greer holds the key to the team’s success.
“He’s a blessing to the team,” Thompson said. “He runs the offense. He can score and he gets the team involved in everything. He’s a great point guard. We missed him a lot.”
Like Valore, Thompson thinks Greer as only improved since recovering from the injury.
“I think he came back better,” he said. “He came back stronger. He’s playing with a lot of heart.”
Hasim Hinson added 11 points Monday as Camden played a lot of the second half with the starters on the bench.
It was clear from the outset that St. Thomas was not going to match up well with the Panthers, and was never in the game.
Camden opened a 21-13 lead after one quarter when Greer scored 10 of his points and the Panthers were able to steadily extend the lead the rest of the way.
Jack Byrd MLK Showcase
St. Thomas More 13 4 10 12 -39
Camden 21 22 21 18 -82
C: Saleem Brown 8, Tyson Fresbey 5, Cory Greer 24, Jaden Haley 6, Nasim Hinson 11, Nassir Hinson 4, Sheron Merlin 4, Ethan Tarte 8, Myles Thompson 12.