HADDON TWP. – Last week, while talking with John Valore about playing at Paul VI in a Showcase Game, the Camden coach told me to watch out for the Eagles, saying, “Tony Devlin’s teams always improve at the end of the season.”
Well, Valore is proving to be quite the prophet, as well as leading Camden to the No. 1 ranking in the South Jersey Sports Digest Top Ten.
Paul VI knocked off No. 8 Haddonfield Saturday, 49-45, just five days after taking down No. 10 Bishop Eustace.
“That’s two top 10 teams,” Devlin said with a smile while talking after the game with Valore and friend Kurt Barbera, who was a former assistant in Devlin's first-year at PVI.
And, just seven days ago, the Eagles (11-11) lost a 2-point decision to No. 5 Atlantic City.
Yes, it has been a week that has proven Valore right and the Eagles as a scary eighth-seed in the upcoming South Jersey Non-Public A tournament.
“We are going hard in practice,” said junior forward Hartnell Haye after leading the Eagles with 12 points.
Junior guard Tyshon Judge, who was grade school teammates with Haye at the Camden Partnership Schools, scored 11 points while freshman Wisler Sannon added eight, including a corner 3-pointer for the game’s first bucket.
“We are bonding more,” said Sanon. “We are getting energy from each other and we are pushing each other.”
Haddonfield dropped to 21-3. The Bulldawgs previous losses were against No. 6 Wildwood Catholic and Colonial Conference rival Haddon Heights, which has 20 wins.
Dan Fleming (12) and Mike DePersia (10) paced the Bulldawgs against Paul VI’s trapping and athletic defense.
Just four weeks ago, I saw the Eagles score just 31 points against Seneca in an 11-point point loss. Now, Seneca is certainly a quality team, but 31 points is 31 points.
“They are a tough team,” Seneca coach Sean Kennevan had said about Paul VI after the game.
Like with Valore, Paul VI is proving Kennevan right, also.
The Eagles have losses to No. 1 Camden, No. 2 Timber Creek, No. 9 Camden Catholic and No. 10 Bishop Eustace
However, the Eagles boast impressive wins over No.4 Eastern as well as against the No. 9 Irish and No. 10 Crusaders for season splits in the rugged Olympic Conference National Division – and now No. 8 Haddonfield.
“We want to keep on going,” Haye said. “We have two more games this week.”
On the horizon includes facing another ranked team in No. 3 Shawnee on Tuesday.
Then, the tourney where Paul VI will play a home game against No. 9 Notre Dame on Feb. 28 with the winner playing on March 2 at top-seeded St. Augustine, another top-ranked team in the SJSD.
But, no one should want to play Paul VI now either.
Haddonfield 14 6 15 10 - 45
Paul VI 10 9 7 5 – 49
H – Mike DePersia 10, Aiden Blake 6, Dan Fleming 12, Dylan Heine 8, Sam Heine 2, Ben Schroeter 3, Evans 4.
PVI – Tariq Johnson 6, Tyshon Judge 11, Nicholas Villa 3, Hartnell Haye 12, Jordan Pierre 3, Jake Boyd Savage 6, Wisler Sannon 8.