PAULSBORO - Daryus Quarles isn’t one to make it about himself.
The Paulsboro High School boys basketball coach and former Saint Joseph’s University alum underwent successful brain surgery in late October. Quarles, a man of incredible faith, often credits his belief in God and reiterates how blessed he is to be alive.
His players have also reiterated how blessed they are to have Quarles manning their sideline.
Although the Paulsboro head coach tends to avoid being self-centered, his players have made it a point to make it about him and utilize their efforts to repay him for his courage this season.
“He’s been leading us,” senior Keyshun Sanders said. “He’s been making sure we’re in the right spot. This is a team that can win a Group 1 championship.”
Paulsboro extended its active winning streak to eight games with a 54-41 win over Wildwood on Friday. The Red Raiders have won nine out of their last 11 games and are currently sitting at 14-2.
“I don’t like to make it about me,” Quarles said. “My time (as a player) has come and went. But I definitely think they’re thriving off of me (and) my energy. They’re playing hard, they’re playing for me, they’re sticking together. I think my return has something to do with it — just the energy and holding the guys accountable. I put a lot of time in watching teams and giving them everything I got. I think my return has a lot to do with it, but it’s not about me.”
The Red Raiders defeated Haddonfield, 36-30, in a high-profile Colonial Conference matchup on Thursday night.
It marked the first time Paulsboro defeated the Haddons since 2017.
“I like this team,” Quarles said. “I like the camaraderie. I like the way we play defense. We knew we would have a chance tonight if we identified those guys up and played defense.”
Quarles’ squad did just that as they held Haddonfield to 19 points in the first half. The Red Raiders also outscored their opponent 12-4 in the third quarter.
“I think that lead going into the fourth (quarter) saved us,” Quarles said. “We scored one point in the fourth quarter. Without that big third quarter we had, I don’t think we would have won the game. I salute my team and their efforts.”
Sanders led Paulsboro with a game-high 15 points and scored the Red Raiders’ lone point of the fourth quarter. The preseason South Jersey Sports Zone All-South Jersey Second Team selection didn’t put together his greatest shooting performance, but his ability to attack the basket paired with his toughness helped Paulsboro prevail.
“Even though we couldn’t make a lot of shots, it’s our defense,” Sanders said. “If the ball (is) not going in the hoop, you gotta do something else to help the team. Play defense, rebound the ball, get stops. That’s what we did.”
Elijah Ricks added 10 points and hit a pair of 3-pointers. Paulsboro sank six 3-pointers in total — including four in the second quarter — to help combat Haddonfield’s two-three zone defense and pressure in the half court.
“We definitely needed this win,” Ricks said. “40-plus power points. That definitely helped us in that category and we got it done tonight.”
The Red Raiders’s stingy defense also held Haddonfield’s Tommy Mooney and Matt Leming to a combined 19 points.
After all, the victory was another testament to Paulsboro’s commitment to their head coach.
“We’ve been doing this all for him,” Ricks said. “He was fighting so when he got back we had to fight for him.”