By Lauree Padgett. Exclusive to Haddonfield[dot]Today
At the end of a 4-game stretch that saw the Dawgs defeat St. Joseph’s (Hammonton) High School in the Seagull Classic, and then three Colonial Conference opponents (Haddon Heights, Lindenwold, and Gloucester City High School—which, unbeknownst to me, became a new member of the Liberty division), the Haddonfield boys had earned a bit of time off. Their first game this past week wasn’t until a home matchup against Colonial rival, the Audubon Wave, on Thursday, 1/20.
One way to describe this contest for the Dawgs would be “easy-threesies.” That’s because in the first half alone, Haddonfield hit 9 3’s. The first came from senior Tom Mooney on the Dawgs’ first possession of the game off a feed from sophomore Daire Roddy, who grabbed the ball after senior Matthew Guveiyian’s tip from the jump ball. After a 2 from junior Tommy Bond, Audubon got 3 back, but senior Matt Leming answered with a 3. Mooney got 2 from the foul line before the Wave got 2 field goals in a row, and with 5:17 left in the first, the Dawgs were up by 5, 12–7. Mooney’s second trey of the quarter would make it 15–7. Back-to-back jump shots by Leming and Mooney pushed the lead up to 12, 19–7, with 2:02 remaining.
Audubon ended its dry spell with a nice drive but a bounce pass from one Matt (Guveiyian) to the other (Leming) made it 21–9 with just over a minute to go in the 1st. Audubon would pick up one more point from the foul line and the Dawgs would get 2 more on a nice drive by Roddy, and as the first quarter came to an end, Haddonfield was up by double digits, 23–10.
In the second 8 minutes, the Dawgs would put 26 on the board thanks to Leming, who knocked down five shots from behind the arc. But he had help with the offense. Mooney began the scoring making 2 foul shots and Roddy followed with a floater to make it 27–10. Sophomore Sam Narducci, who started the 2nd, grabbed a defensive board and went cross-court to finish with a layup, increasing the Dawgs’ lead to 19, 29–10, at the 5:42 mark. The Wave’s first bucket of the quarter made it 29–12, but a basket by Dawg sophomore Patrick Ryan got that 19-point lead back. Then Leming got smoking hot. He swooshed in three 3’s in a row between only a pair of foul shots by Audubon, and before the Wave knew what hit them, they were trailing 40-14 with 3 minutes and change before the half.
Audubon managed to get 2 unanswered field goals before Roddy hit a 3. The quarter closed out with Leming hitting another pair of 3’s (one of them rolled around the rim before dropping in). As the half ended, Haddonfield was giving the Wave a pounding, 48–18. Leming alone was beating Audubon 22–18.
Coach Paul Wiedeman already had been making substitutions in the first half, when 10 players saw action, and by the time the game ended, 15 had gotten onto the court. In the 4th quarter, Bond picked up where Leming left off and made back-to-back-to-back 3’s. The final score was Haddonfield 79, Audubon 37. 13 of those 79 points came from the bench. Not surprisingly, Leming led the Dawgs’ scoring barrage with 22 but was closely followed by Mooney, who had 20. Bond added 15.
Saturday, the Dawgs welcomed former Colonial Conference Liberty rival, the Rams of Overbrook, who are now in the Tri-County conference. As we were leaving the stands on Thursday night, Dave Wiedeman predicted this was going to be a tough game. Never doubt what Dave Wiedeman says.
The first thing I thought when the game actually started was how small the Overbrook starters made Haddonfield ‘s look, and that’s with two of our players being 6-4 (Guveiyian) and 6-5 (Bond). The Dawgs started out with a 3 from Matt Leming, but the Rams answered with a 3 and then got one of several they would make during the game off an offensive rebound to go up by 2, 5–3. Tom Mooney’s 2 foul shots tied it up. The Dawgs lost a defensive board this time and the Rams’ second shot went in, making it 7–5, Rams, with 4:19 left in the quarter. A nice pass from Daire Roddy to Mooney tied the game at 7 but a steal from behind, also the first of many that Overbrook would inflict on our usually good ball handling guards, broke the tie. Leming’s second 3 of the quarter gave the Dawgs their first lead of the game, 10–9, with 2:24 on the clock. A Haddonfield foul sent Overbrook to the line, but only one shot dropped, bringing the game even at 10. Senior Dante Del Duca was fouled behind the arc and made 1-3 to inch the Dawgs back out in front 11–10 with just under 2 minutes left in the quarter. However, the Rams would get the last 2 buckets of the first to go up by 3, 14–11, going into the second.
Those first 8 minutes set the tone for the next 24. Neither team could go up more than a few points and neither team could hold whatever lead they had. Leming started the 2nd the way he started the first, with a trey, which made it 14–14 with just over a minute gone. A floater by Mooney gave the Dawgs’ back the edge, 16–14, but Overbrook got the next two baskets to take a 2-point lead with 5:04 on the clock. Neither team could get a basket for almost 2 minutes, then Roddy was fouled at stepped to the line with 3:19 left in the half. His shots tied it at 18. Senior Carson Wolff, who almost always starts in the 2nd quarter, brings a lot of energy, especially defensively, onto the court. His steal was capped by a 3 from Teddy Bond, and with the Dawgs up by 3, 21–18, with 2 and change left in the half, Overbrook called a timeout.
After the inbounds, Overbrook lost the ball off a rebound, but the Dawgs couldn’t capitalize, even after getting an offensive board. Haddonfield was assessed a foul, even though the Overbrook player slipped on the court, and the Rams ended up hitting a 3 to knot the game at 21 with 45 seconds on the clock. Roddy’s basket made it 23–21, Haddonfield, but a foul, called just ahead of the buzzer on the Dawgs gave the Rams 2 shots at the foul line. One went it, and when halftime officially started, the Dawgs had the slimmest of leads at 23–22.
The 3rd quarter began with Overbrook having possession. The Dawgs immediately started pressing, which was having a good effect of blocking the entryways into the lane. So instead, the Rams shot from behind the arc and successfully regained the lead, 25–23, with 7:33 on the clock. Mooney went up and in on a reverse layup and tied the game at 25 about 70 seconds later. Leming, who was still channeling the 3’s, hit another to give the Dawgs’ a 3-point, 28–25, lead, but the Rams pulled down an offensive board and got a basket to cut that edge to 1, 28–27, with 5:19 left in the quarter. A pass went off Haddonfield under the basket. At the other end, good “D” by the Dawgs got a jump ball call, but Overbrook had the possession arrow and held onto the ball. Both teams exchanged a bad trip down to their respective baskets, and then the refs missed a clear backcourt violation on Overbrook (when I see it, you know it’s a no-doubter). Luckily, a blocked shot by Matthew Guveiyian kept the Rams from getting points off the missed call, and then a nice pass from Bond to Leming resulted in another 3 swooshing in, which gave Haddonfield its biggest lead, 31–27, of the game with 4:12 to go in the 3rd.
Neither team would score of their next few attempts. Then at the 2:21 mark, Overbrook turned yet another offensive board into a basket to make it a 31–29 game. After the Dawgs’ next shot did not find the net, the Rams got 2 on an uncontested layup to make it 31 all with 1:38 showing on the scoreboard. After getting an offensive board, it looked like Guveiyian was fouled trying to get the ball up and in under the basket and would be heading to the line, but the refs didn’t see it that way. Instead, the Dawgs had to inbound the ball and misfired, which put the ball back in the hands of the Rams, who scored to retake the lead 33–31. The Dawgs had 6.3 seconds to set a play but were charged with a travel. The buzzer sounded with the Rams finally missing a second-chance shot and the Dawgs looking uncharacteristically rattled.
The Dawgs had more trouble trying to inbound to start the 4th quarter and lost the ball. At the other end of the court, the Dawgs were pressuring the Rams under the basket, and more than 90 seconds ticked off the clock before the Rams found a path into the paint and the basket to go up by 4, 35–31, with 6:02 left in the game. Wolff got trapped in the corner with the ball and made a smart move, deflecting the ball off a Ram player so it went out of bounds. However, the Dawgs could not score. Overbrook gave the ball back on a traveling violation, and just back into the game, Bond fired off a 3-point attempt that just rimmed in to get the Dawgs back to within 1, 34–35, with 5:07 on the clock.
Wolff snuck in for a steal and Haddonfield made three attempts to get the ball in; none dropped. Overbrook gave the ball back after getting called for an offensive foul, and with 4:32 on the clock, Paul Wiedeman called a 30-second timeout. The Dawgs got the ball in this time under the Rams’ basket, and Leming got his own rebound but did not score. He pulled down a bigtime board defensive board at the other end and was fouled. Again, the Dawgs faltered trying to inbound the ball. This time, Overbrook called a timeout with 3:42 to go.
After a near pickoff by Mooney, it looked like the Dawgs did pull off a steal, but the refs called a double-dribble on Leming that no one in my section of the stands seemed to see or agree with. Overbrook had gone a bit cold but its missed shot went out of bounds off Haddonfield. However, the Rams were assessed with another moving violation, which their fans did not agree with. (A longtime Haddonfield fan who has probably seen even more high school games than I have remarked afterwards that the game was too fast-paced for the referees to keep up with, and I think she was absolutely right, as the refs got a lot of jaw from both sets of fans throughout the game.) With 2:49 on the clock, the Dawgs managed to successfully inbound the ball and Leming got fouled in the act of shooting, which sent him to the line with 2:39 remaining. His shots put Haddonfield up by 1, 36–35, and a timely pickoff by Guveiyian gave the Dawgs back the ball. Wolff passed the ball to Del Duca, who went up and in, giving the Dawgs a 3-point edge, 38–35, with 1:59 left in the game. That didn’t last for long as Overbrook “rammed” in a 3 to make it a dead heat again, 38 all, with 1:36 left in a very exciting, back-and-forth game.
After Guveiyian had to make a quick move to save the ball from going out of bounds, and with the clock down to 1:36, Coach Wiedeman thought this was a good time for a huddle on the sidelines with his players. After the Dawgs inbounded, the ball went out of bounds off a kicked ball by the Rams. The Dawgs ran a good play but the ball did not drop. At the other end, the Rams got their shot to roll in to take the lead back, 40–38, with 9.4 seconds left. Haddonfield called another timeout to discuss the last play. Things did not go as planned and not only did the Dawgs not score, they fouled the Rams trying to get the offensive rebound.
With 2.7 left, the Rams inbounded the ball under Haddonfield’s basket, and it went out of bounds off the Dawgs. Now there was 1.7 seconds left. Wiedeman put the Dawgs’ tallest players, Guveiyian and Bond, on the Ram who was trying to inbound. With no players open, Overbrook had to call at timeout so it wouldn’t lose possession. In the stands, the Haddonfield faithful were not feeling too optimistic, as it looked like time had run out for a Dawgs’ comeback.
But Dawgs players do not quit. Ever. Odds don’t faze them. Clocks running down don’t make them wave the white flag. As the Ram player inbounding the ball threw it higher up, over the heads of Bond and Guveiyian, aiming for his player on the other side of the half-court line, 5-11 Roddy, who was also positioned on the other side of the line a bit in front of the much taller Overbrook player, leapt up and intercepted the ball before it could reach its intended target. With amazing poise, Roddy dribbled the ball into Haddonfield territory, and instead of just throwing up the ball in desperation, he set his feet and made a shot, not a heave. The buzzer sounded as the ball was in midflight. It hit nothing but net for a waaay-behind-arc 3. The Dawgs had won in stunning fashion, 41–40. As the scoreboard registered the shot and it registered with the fans and players in the gym that Haddonfield once again had stared down what seemed like a sure defeat to pull out a win, the place went nuts. Overbrook players could not believe what had happened, hung their heads (even though they had played their hearts out for 31 minutes and 58.3 seconds), and walked off the court. Dawg fans started screaming, and there was a big pile-up of Dawgs on the court. Somehow Roddy did not end up on the bottom, which was probably a good thing, but Mooney, officially listed at 6-2, and Guveiyian did, and they were both slow to get up once the bodies of their teammates were pulled off them. I was a bit worried when Guveiyian very gingerly stepped off the court, but a check-in later with his dad, Mike, eased my concern, as I got the “all clear.”
Roddy’s amazing leap and basket got into the hands of the people at ESPN who create the Sports Center Top 10 Plays, and it ranked as number 4. During the Sunday 6 o’clock Action News broadcast (ABC being affiliated with ESPN), sportscaster Jamie Apody also showed the clip and marveled at Roddy’s one-two punch to upend the Rams. If you missed being there in person or were there but would like to watch it a few more times, here is the link to the whole Top 10 countdown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4pfAJssGZI.
This was a game for the books. Every point mattered. Every rebound mattered. Every steal, every block, every denied basket kept the Dawgs in the game for 32 minutes, including the last 1.7 seconds. Leming, with his 5 3’s and 2 foul shots, one again was high scorer for his team, putting 17 on the board. Mooney had 8; Bond, 6; Del Duca, 3; and Roddy, 7. From now on, I’m going to call this super soph “Double Daire” because not only did he dare to try for that steal, he dared to go for that improbable 3. If he hadn’t, the Dawgs would have played hard and lost 40–38 to a really good, athletic team. But because Roddy believed the Dawgs still had a “shot” to win, that’s just what they did.
Haddonfield now has an 11–2 overall record and is 7–1 in conference play. Next up is a Tuesday, 1/25, 7 p.m. home game against the Thundering Herd of Woodbury. On Thursday, 1/27, the Dawgs head down to what is almost always a tough game against the Red Raiders of Paulsboro. That is also a 7 p.m. start. The week wraps up in what has become an annual appearance in the Jeff Cooney Classic at Rancocas Valley Regional High School. The Dawgs are slated to go up against Burlington Township High School in a 6:15 game that in all probability will not start on time.