The Lacey Township High School boys basketball team will try to win its first South Jersey title tonight.

The Lions' opponent is in pursuit of its 10th state title.

Camden, a perennial power, plays at Lacey for the South Jersey Group III championship at 6:30 p.m.

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"My kids are very excited," Lacey coach Ryan O'Rourke said. "The school and the community are really excited."

Lacey is better known for its football success. But these Lions (22-4) are in the midst of a historic season and are the top seed.

Meanwhile, Camden is one of the state's most prestigious programs.

Camden (17-12) is 9-3 since Feb. 1. The seventh-seeded Panthers beat second-seeded Delsea Regional 52-49 in the quarterfinals. Camden features plenty of size with 6-foot-7 Ajwan Leaming (11.2 ppg) and 6-6 senior Thomas Harper (14.1 ppg).

"They are extremely athletic," O'Rourke said. "We're going to have to take care of the basketball and obviously we're going to have to box out and rebound."

Lacey is a senior-dominated team. The Lions rely on balanced scoring and a stingy matchup zone defense. Logan McDonald and Ryan Reitmeyer are accurate outside shooters. Tyrell Smith, a 6-5, 285-pound senior, is an inside presence.

Point guard Tasheen Carrow has knack for sinking baskets when Lacey needs them most. Carrow scored 21 points and sank two foul shots with seven seconds left in a 47-44 semifinal win over Ocean City on Friday.

Lacey's best quality is its unselfishness.

'It's been a lot of fun coaching these guys," O'Rourke said. Contact Michael McGarry:


S.J. Group III final

Who: Seventh-seeded Camden (17-12) vs. top-seeded Lacey Township (22-4)

When/where: 6:30 p.m. today at Lacey

What's next: Winner advances to Wednesday's state semifinal against the winner of tonight's Central Jersey title game between Lakewood and Neptune.

How they got here: Camden-Beat Hammonton 55-50; Delsea Regional 52-49; Woodrow Wilson 52-51. Lacey-Beat Timber Creek 38-35; Oakcrest 45-31; Ocean City 47-44.


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