EHS Pushes No. 1 Camden (No. 10 in the nation) To The Final Minutes, Falls 60-50
Elizabeth, considered by many to be a heavy underdog, gave Camden all it could handle before succumbing to a late run in a 60-50 loss in the Tournament of Champions semifinals at Jersey Mike’s Arena at Rutgers University.
Camden came into the game ranked No.1 in New Jersey by NJ.com and ranked No. 10 nationally by ESPN in their SCNext Top 25, sporting a 30-2 record with no losses to in-state competition. Their only losses came to Montverde Academy (FL), coached by former St. Patrick’s coach Kevin Boyle, and Calvary Christian (FL), which are currently ranked No. 4 and No. 8 in the nation, respectively. They were led by D.J. Wagner, the No. 1 ranked player in the nation for the Class of 2023 and 7-foot junior center Aaron Bradshaw.
Having such a pedigree, Elizabeth was seen by many as just a speed bump to Camden on their way to meeting Roselle Catholic in the TOC final, but the Minutemen had other plans.
Elizabeth, unlike their previous few games where they started slower and pulled away in the second half, knew they would have to come out with high intensity from the opening tip to stay with Camden and did so, achieving something that only three other teams had against the Panthers all season. They went into the locker room at halftime with a lead, outscoring Camden 29-28.
The Minutemen would keep it a one possession game after three quarters and kept it tied until the final four minutes of the game when a 13-3 run by Camden helped the Panthers pull away at the end and prevail.
For the size disadvantage that Elizabeth faced, they made up for it with heart, grit, and determination, their calling card throughout the season. They had been battle tested throughout the season, including three separate 5-point losses to No. 2 in New Jersey and No. 11 in the nation Roselle Catholic, who will face Camden in the last ever TOC championship game. Those games against Roselle Catholic, combined with their impressive run through the state in claiming the Group 4 title, prepared them for this encounter with Camden.
The Minutemen were once again led by Sebastian Robinson (13 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists), Etienne Richelieu (12 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assis, 1 block, 1 steal), Zyree Beverly (10 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block), and London Carson (10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks). Elijah Bruno (5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block), Justin Agyare (2 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block), Sean Jules (2 rebounds, 1 assist) and Justin Jules (3 points) all contributed to Elizabeth’s valiant performance.
Elizabeth finishes its season with a 20-7 record, its second North 2, Group 4 state championship in the past three years, its first Group 4 title since 1991, and many individual accolades to come for its players. For Coach Phil Colicchio, the season concludes with him having the most Group 4 championships of any coach in state history with 7 and he finishes among the top ten all-time for most TOC victories by a coach with 6. The Elizabeth boys basketball program ends the season having restored its past glory and reinvigorated an entire city after carrying it along on this magical run.
Congratulations to the young men who gave everything they had each time they took the floor in playing at a championship level, Coach Phil Colicchio and his staff for guiding the Minutemen back to the top of Group 4 basketball, and to the 2021-2022 Minutemen basketball team as a whole for cementing their legacy in Elizabeth’s rich basketball history.