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Woodbury boys basketball’s supporting cast shows up big to cease Lindenwold upset bid

LINDENWOLD (N.J.) - Woodbury High School senior Ja'Bron Solomon expects opposing defenses to keep their eyes on him at all times.

The New Haven football commit and Group 1 state champion wide receiver exploded for a school record 50 points on the hardwood in a victory over Audubon last Friday.

Opponents are implementing game plans to slow down Solomon, but he's still finding ways to get the job done.

Facing a box-and-one defense, Solomon provided a team-high 14 points as the Thundering Herd, ranked 14th in the latest South Jersey Sports Zone Top 15 high school boys basketball rankings, held off Lindenwold, 50-47, on Monday night.

The Herd improved their record to 17-5 and secured an outright Colonial Conference Patriot Division title.

"My biggest adjustment when I see a box-and-one, because we've seen it a couple of times, is just I feel like my four is better than your other four, and that's what I go by," Woodbury coach Lynell Payne said. "We just kind of attack it like that. I tell these guys, 'they're telling you this team isn't good enough without him so you got to do something.' They all respond to it."

Julian Shorts responded by burying a trio of 3-pointers and matching Solomon with a team-high 14 points. The senior scored the first bucket of the second half from the left wing on an assist from Solomon and continued to thrive when the defense collapsed on Solomon as he drove the lane.

Shorts also converted on an 'and-one' to give Woodbury a 48-43 advantage with 2:57 left to play.

"We just did what coach told us to do," Shorts said. "We just passed the ball around and made the right passes to get open. I just know I got to stay ready to shoot."

"Ja'Bron can really score the ball so he had all our attention," Lindenwold coach Randy Conley said. "If you were gonna beat us, we were gonna make somebody else beat us. I think the effort was there."

Solomon's counterpart on the gridiron, quarterback Bryan Johnson, stepped up, too.

The Thundering Herd's state champion signal caller returned from an injury on Monday after missing two games.

Johnson converted an old-fashioned, three-point play to turn a one-point deficit into a two-point lead with 3:11 left in regulation. The senior's clutch gene alleviated a woeful shooting performance.

"One of our teammates got the steal, Julian threw it up to me and I just knew I had to finish," Johnson said. "I hadn't had a good game all day so I knew I had to make it up to the team. ... I'm just happy I was able to help the team out and win."

The senior also notched a steal on an inbound with less than 10 seconds remaining to secure Woodbury's eighth triumph over its last nine contests.

Regaining stamina was a challenge for Johnson. His championship pedigree pushed him the past the confines of reduced energy.

"That came from football," the senior said. "We came off a championship season, all about grit. So I just carried that over to the basketball season. It's all about grit. We want to win another championship in basketball now."

Solomon wasn't the only victim of a junk defense.

Lindenwold's Tajamir Brown was occupied by a swarm of defenders for the duration of the contest as the Thundering Herd attempted to limit his scoring output. Brown managed a game-high 18 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

"He's amazing," Conley said. "He's one of the most unselfish scorers I've ever seen. His work ethic is through the roof and he really rallies our guys behind him.

"I can't say enough about this kid Tajamir. I don't see a kid in South Jersey that sees the junk defenses that he sees - one, two, three, four guys a night - and he's still averaging 20 (points per game)."

Woodbury trailed by as much as eight points in the first half, but responded to complete the season sweep of its Patriot Division rival.

"We're a fighting team," Payne said. "Last time we came in here it was tied at halftime, similar to today, and then we came out and took care of business. So obviously coming in here again we're gonna get their best shot. I'm just happy our guys fought through."

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