When Paterson (N.J.) Catholic closed its doors last June due to financial struggles, it set in motion a mad scramble for all the talented players on the school's basketball team.
The team's two best returning players, point guards Myles Mack and Kyle Anderson, landed at St. Anthony under Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley.
Two other young Paterson Catholic standouts, Reggie Cameron and Kavon Stewart, took their talents to St. Anthony's crosstown rival, Hudson Catholic.
Now the former teammates will face off Friday in the North Non-Public B bracket if both teams win their preliminary games Wednesday. Hudson Catholic, the No. 7 seed, faces Montclair Immaculate, while No. 2 St. Anthony meets Morris Catholic.
Unbeaten St. Anthony, No. 2 in most national polls, would be the favorite against Hudson Catholic.
"I know we're going to talk some smack [to Mack and Anderson] if we beat Montclair Immaculate," said the 6-foot-7 Cameron, who holds scholarship offers from Seton Hall, Rutgers, DePaul, Providence, Cincinnati and UMass. "I'm sure we're going to say something to each other before that game."
The 5-foot-9 Mack is a senior signed with Rutgers, and the 6-8 Anderson is the top junior point guard prospect in the Class of 2012, according to Rivals.
Cameron and the 5-10 Stewart are sophomores still establishing themselves. They were role players in 2009-10 when Paterson Catholic won the City of Palms Classic and was ranked as high as No. 3 nationally before losing to St. Anthony in the sectional final.
Cameron said practicing against the older players was good for him and Stewart.
"Definitely, I think it helped me become the player I am right now," Cameron said. "I went against them every day in practice last year. Myles is one of the best players in his class. Kyle is one of the best players in his class. Going against them every day in practice helped me develop."
Hudson Catholic coach Nick Mariniello says fans must understand that the St. Anthony guards are simply more tested than his young team, which starts four sophomores and a junior.
"You've got to talk about a McDonald's All-American and a future pro in Kyle Anderson, and Myles Mack, who's one of my favorites players," said Mariniello, who has won more than 200 career games at Bloomfield Tech and Hudson Catholic. "I love watching him play. I love his demeanor on the court. He's a Big East-level guard. In my eyes, he's a first-team all-state player this year.
"They're playing against two guys that were in their program that are very, very young. [Mack and Anderson] had experience playing at a very, very high level on the high school level, whereas my guys are young. I know my guys have adjusted very, very well and my guys embrace competition."
Anticipation around the state and country is building for a potential St. Patrick-St. Anthony showdown March 9 in the North Non-Public B final. St. Patrick is No. 1 nationally.
Cameron said that only motivates him more.
"Everyone's kind of counting us out so it's going to motivate us to play hard and try to go out there and win," he said.
Even if St. Anthony advances as expected, Cameron said he would be rooting for his former teammates against St. Patrick.
"Of course," he said. "If they do beat us of course I would go and support Myles and Kyle. I played with them last year at PC. They're still my family."