PLEASANTVILLE — Sahmir Jones dunked in the first quarter Wednesday night.
“That’s what got me going,” he said. “After that, I felt like I was in rhythm.”
What followed were lots of baskets and plenty of smiles.
The Pleasantville High School senior guard scored 29 points to lead the Greyhounds to an 80-68 win over Cinnaminson in a South Jersey Group II semifinal. Third-seeded Pleasantville (20-8) will play at second-seeded Camden in a semifinal 5 p.m. Friday.
Jones sank four 3-pointers. In the third quarter, he made step-back 3-pointers off the dribble on three straight Greyhounds possessions. After each of those baskets, he smiled. A Cinnaminson fan yelled at him to stop smiling. Jones smiled back at him.
“The kid is good,” the fan said.
Jones was simply enjoying himself.
“I like playing at home,” he said. “When I play basketball and I smile more and enjoy myself, I play better.”
Jones also used his speed to beat Cinnaminson players downcourt for transition baskets. Jones is a state champion sprinter and will run track at Boston University.
“That’s a big part of my game,” he said. “I’m very fast. I’m hard to stop in transition. Once I get some easy transition points, my jump shot usually falls.”
Sixth-seeded Cinnaminson (18-10) stayed close behind the play of guard Chad Howard (21 points) and the perimeter shooting of J.P. Rickus (16 points).
But it seemed each time Cinnaminson sank a big shot, Pleasantville immediately made one of its own. Jones, Jacob Valeus and Narquise McGloughlin sank timely 3-pointers for the Greyhounds. McGloughlin made a 3-pointer from the deep left corner to put Pleasantville up 64-52 after three quarters.
“It was a momentum thing,” Pleasantville coach Butch Warner said. “We never let them get it. They hit a big shot, and Sahmir would come down and hit a big shot. That’s the way the game went. Things were in our favor tonight.”
Pleasantville built its lead in the second quarter as Jones scored 11 of his points. The Greyhounds led by as many as 15 in the second half. Valeus finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Elijah Jones, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, came off the bench to score 13 points.
Pleasantville/Camden will be one of the most anticipated games in the state tournament Friday. Camden (16-9) is a perennial power.
“We’ve been looking forward to it all season,” Warner said of Friday. “The farther you go (in the tournament) the harder it gets. We have to do some things to stop their (big men). We have to shoot the ball well, and our guards will have to play a big part in us winning.”
Cinnaminson 9 22 21 16 — 68
Pleasantville 11 27 26 16 — 80
CIN — Howard 21, Rickus 16, Meekins 16, Artur 6, Gantt 5, Conn 2, Gee 2
PV — Freeman 1, Valeus 18, Growalt 2, E. Jones 13, S. Jones 29, McFadden 6, McGloughlin 7, Gonzalez 4