Egg Harbor Township living up to lofty expectations
HADDONFIELD - The Egg Harbor Township High School boys basketball program turned heads with a miraculous run in the South Jersey Group 4 playoffs two seasons ago.
The Eagles entered the tournament as the No. 16-seed and upended top-seeded Toms River North, 67-61, before rallying past Williamstown for a 49-40 victory to advance to the sectional semifinals. EHT’s run was eventually terminated at the hands of Cherry Hill East (lost 57-55), but the defeat couldn’t put a damper on the program’s remarkable journey.
The 13-15 Eagles returned their top scorer, Carlos Lopez (15.0 points per game), and a handful of contributors including current junior DJ Germann and current senior Isaiah Glenn a season later.
The trio proceeded to help Egg Harbor Township achieve a 14-1 record in a COVID-shortened season in early 2021 and finish sixth in the final South Jersey Sports Zone Top 30.
The trio returned this season to reach newer heights. Senior Anthony Colon also returned to English Creek Avenue after spending his junior season in Florida. Colon made the move after fearing last season would be nonexistent due to the ongoing pandemic. The senior averaged 7.9 points per game as a sophomore when the Eagles rallied to the South Jersey Group 4 semifinals.
This year’s seniors have every intention of replicating their run and getting the job done this time.
“Expectations are real high this year,” Germann said. “We want to go undefeated and possibly win a state championship.”
The Eagles improved their record to 6-0 with a 59-42 win over then-No. 8 Haddonfield at the Haddonfield Holiday Classic on December 30, 2021. Germann notched a game-high 15 points. Junior Jay-Nelly Reyes also added 15 points and Glenn tallied 10.
“It was a good win,” Germann said. “We’ve been prepping for them for a couple weeks now. They’re a good team and we just came out and made a statement. This win really sets the tone.”
“We never let our foot off the gas,” Reyes said. “This was a statement win. It shows this isn’t the same team as last year — we’re even better and we’re coming out even harder this year. We set the tone coming into this new year.”
It marked the first time Egg Harbor Township prevailed against the Haddons at their annual holiday showcase during coach Cameron Bell’s tenure. More importantly, it solidified the Eagles’ as one of South Jersey’s bests.
“This is my fifth year coming up here to Haddonfield and never having won,” Bell said. “They followed the game plan. I know Haddonfield was missing their one big kid, (Matt Guveiyian), so that was in our favor as well. But more than anything, they stuck to the game plan. Their offense hasn’t changed and we knew exactly what it was. They were dialed in and locked in.”
Reyes’ 15-point outburst matched a career high for the junior. He scored 15 points in a 95-47 win over Atlantic Christian in late December and has provided the Eagles with energy on both sides of the ball. The junior entered this season with only 18 career points.
“His minutes were limited last year because he was playing behind Ethan Dodd,” Bell said. “We had Ethan Dodd, JJ Germann, and then Ahmad Brock played. We always knew Nelly was next. Had last year been a normal season, he would’ve played JV and got some varsity minutes. We had to go varsity only last year so there weren’t a ton of minutes for him. He had a great offseason. We knew he was going to be ready coming into this year.”
Egg Harbor Township opened their latest campaign with a 76-47 win over Lower Cape May. Lopez exploded for a 31-point performance and Germann added 16 points. The duo continued their dominance as Lopez notched 33 and Germann put up 26 in an 87-60 triumph over Wildwood Catholic.
Lopez poured in 26 and Glenn contributed 19 in a 75-59 win over Mainland. Four players notched double figures for the Eagles in the triumph over the Mustangs. Lopez proceeded to explode for 31 as Reyes matched his career-high (15) in the win over Atlantic Christian. The trend continued as Lopez poured in 24 and Colon added 18 in a 64-60 victory over Woodrow Wilson.
Each game sees a new face stepping up to complement Lopez’s scoring abilities. Egg Harbor’s biggest strength has proven to be its balance. Even though Lopez (25.5 points per game this season) was held to a season-low eight points against Haddonfield, the Eagles still prevailed for a 17-point victory.
“I think this win does a couple things (for us),” Bell said. “One, it crystallizes in their minds that we’re a good team and we can play basketball. When we trust each other, trust the coaching staff, we can play with anyone in the state of New Jersey. I think today shows that.”