WILDWOOD - The St. Anthony High School boys basketball team could play anywhere in the country during the Christmas holiday.
The Friars of Jersey City are a big draw with a national reputation. St. Anthony coach Bob Hurley is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and has been profiled on the television show "60 Minutes." St. Anthony has won 26 state titles, 12 Tournament of Champions titles and 65 straight games.
St. Anthony will bring that resume to the Boardwalk Basketball Classic in Wildwood this December. The Friars will play Camden at 8:15 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 30 at the Wildwoods Convention Center.
During a news conference Friday at the Convention Center to publicize the event, Hurley said he likes to play in New Jersey.
"If there are things we can do close to home, I would far prefer to do that," he said. "I think (New Jersey) basketball is second to none. We like the trips when we can get on a bus and it's a short bus trip. I don't like the idea of flying across the country."
The St. Anthony vs. Camden contest is one of two showcase games that are being billed as The Bob Hurley Elite Showcase. The other contest tips off at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 30 and features Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School of Philadelphia vs. Prime Preparatory Academy of Dallas.
The inclusion of teams with national reputations such as St. Anthony marks a different direction for the Boardwalk Basketball Classic.
The Classic began in 1998 and is one of the nation's largest high school tournaments. The Classic usually features nearly 70 teams competing for championships in several four-team brackets. Nearly all of those teams come from South Jersey, Philadel-phia or the Philadel-phia suburbs. The nonprofit Classic raises funds for college scholarships for Wild-wood and Wildwood Catholic students. Nearly $300,000 has been raised since the event began.
"We always thought of this as something that maybe could happen," said Ernie Troiano, the Wildwood mayor and Boardwalk Basketball Classic president.
Classic officials worked with Dwight Robinson from Functional Games Apparel, a New Jersey-based sports clothing company, and former St. Anthony player David Rivers to contact Hurley and the Friars. Classic officials said they would like to make a St. Anthony appearance a yearly event.
"We'd love to sign up (St. Anthony) for the next 20 years," Troiano said.
St. Anthony rarely plays locally. But the Friars did play at Mainland Regional last January, winning 69-28.
The matchup between St. Anthony and Camden matches two of the state's best-known boys basketball programs. Camden has long been a New Jersey power and has won 11 state titles and the 2000 Tournament of Champions. The Panthers have struggled recently but won the South Jersey Group III title last season.
Still, St. Anthony is a daunting matchup for any team.
"He's got more than 1,000 wins. I've got 50," Camden coach Cetshwayo Byrd said with a laugh.
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