CAMDEN — The Camden High School boys basketball team sank eight 3-pointers in the first half Friday night.
That hot shooting combined with a rim-rattling Lance Ware dunk proved to be too much for Pleasantville to recover from.
Second-seeded Camden beat the third-seeded Greyhounds 77-54 in a South Jersey Group II semifinal at Woodrow Wilson. The Panthers led 48-22 at halftime and by as many as 32 in the second half.
Pleasantville senior guard Sahmir Jones sank six 3-pointers in the second half and finished with 31 points.
“Camden shot the ball a lot better than I thought they would,” Pleasantville coach Butch Warner said. “Their guards took over the game, and we didn’t have an opportunity to bounce back from that.”
Pleasantville started strong. The Greyhounds led 9-8 with 2 minutes, 50 seconds left in the first quarter.
The 6-foot-9 Ware then changed the game’s momentum with a high-flying dunk in the lane.
“It was a packed house,” Ware said. “Our fans were ready to cheer for us. All of us were ready to play. It was big statement that really got things going for us.”
The dunk began a 27-2 run that gave Camden a 43-15 lead with 1:47 left in the first half. It might have been as well as the Panthers played all season.
“We were locked in on the defensive end,” Camden coach Vic Carstarphen said. “We were locked in on the offensive end. We made that extra pass.”
The Panthers also frustrated Pleasantville with their accurate outside shooting.
Nasir Lett made three 3-pointers in the first half. Jerome Brewer and El-Khana Hildago each made two.
“We didn’t score the ball well either,” Warner said. “Normally, we get more opportunities to score from other than just Sahmir. When things happen like that on the offensive end and the defensive end, we’re at a disadvantage.”
Camden (17-9) will play defending state Group II champion Haddonfield (28-1) for the S.J. title Monday at Cherry Hill East in one of region’s most anticipated games of the season.
Meanwhile, Pleasantville finished 20-9. It was the Greyhounds’ most wins since at least 2001. The game also finished the Pleasantville careers of Jones, Jacob Valeus and Jalen Freeman. All three ended their careers with more than 1,000 points.
“It was a great season,” Warner said. “We had some kids who worked really hard. We had great seniors that were with me for three years. We had a chance to build. Now, we have sophomores coming back, and we’ll try to do the same thing. Hopefully, we’ll get past this point when their turn comes.”
Pleasantville 13 9 17 15 – 54
Camden 21 27 18 11 – 77
PV – Freeeman 6, S. Jones 31, Valeus 13, E. Jones 2, Growalt 2
CAM – Tarte 13, Hildago10, Brewer 20, Ware 15, Woodley 4, Lett 12, Benson 3