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A basketball family

Coach reflects on rewards of leading tightly knit team

Special to The Sun: “They fought for each other every game, and they were just a true family,” said Shawn Anstey, varsity head coach of the high school’s boys basketball team, which recently celebrated its South Jersey Championship against Ocean City.

Now in his 14th season as varsity head coach of the boys basketball team at Moorestown High School (MHS), Shawn Anstey has always had a feel for the job.

“I enjoy the X’s and O’s of it, I enjoy the relationships …” he said. “I enjoy seeing progress with the players and seeing how they grow through the course of the years.”

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Anstey is a 10-year resident of Moorestown who’s been teaching physical education at Moorestown Upper Elementary School (UES) for 20 years. Prior to coaching at MHS, he attended Rowan University, where he also played on the basketball team. 

Anstey also served as an assistant boys coach at Rutgers-Camden and was recently named Olympic Conference Coach of the Year. 

He reflected on how sports have always been a part of his life.

“Growing up I always enjoyed sports,” Anstey recalled. “I was always around sports, and when I was in college, I started playing. And then I just felt like, ‘You know what? Maybe coaching is for me.’”

Anstey noted how coaching has been nothing short of rewarding for him.

“A lot of relationships are built with the kids,” he explained. “It’s just great to see them working hard, building relationships with each other, and a lot of memories … 

“There’s a lot that goes into coaching, a lot you don’t see, and it’s just very rewarding to see the success that the kids have at the end of the season.”

The high school’s boys basketball team has a lot to celebrate this season, including recently winning the South Jersey Championship, taking the Burlington County Championship and advancing to the Group 3 State Championship Semi-Final Game. 

The team’s final record was 23-8, and it ended the year by ranking No. 4 in South Jersey, No. 4 in New Jersey (Group 3) and No. 2 in the Olympic Conference. Anstey described his players as a family that gets along well.

“They fought for each other every game, and they were just a true family,” he said. “They worked hard every game and they relied on a solid team defense … They’re a close-knit group that relied on each other and had a lot of fun during the process.”

With every season, Anstey sees players step up and help lead each other.

“We kind of left it as an open forum for the kids to just help each other and learn from each other, and I think that’s a good recipe for a winning team,” he observed.

During the off-season, Anstey sees players grow individually and together as a team.

“A lot of our kids play multiple sports, so for them to get better in basketball is a great feat, considering a lot of these guys play lacrosse and football and baseball,” he pointed out. “So the kids really believed in us being able to be a good team this year, and they all put in a lot of hard work in the off-season.”

Anstey always enjoys hearing from the Moorestown community about the team’s success.

“If I could tell the community anything, it would be to tell them thank you for all their support for our team throughout the course of the year,” the coach said, “and especially through the playoffs.”

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