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Boys’ Basketball: A Sandwich Week

By Lauree Padgett. Exclusive to Haddonfield[dot]Today

Dawgs Have a Sandwich Week: Two Wins on Either Side of a Loss

The Haddonfield boys basketball team played three games this past week. The first two, on Tuesday, 1/4 and Thursday, 1/6, were against Colonial Conference rivals Collingswood and Sterling. The third was a nonconference match-up against St. Joseph High School (Hammonton) and took place at Holy Spirit High School on Sunday, 1/9 as part of the Seagull Classic.

The first contest, at Collingswood, was ugly, but we got a 26-point W out of it, and it wasn’t really close after the first half. The next two games went down to the wire. One even went into OT. The Dawgs nearly pulled out a win in one and did hang on to win in the other. Of course the game I didn’t get to was the game that the Dawgs eked out the victory … But thanks to a “court” reporter at the Holy Spirit game, I can give you a bit of a recap, including highlights of the last 4 minutes.

The Collingswood game I got to watch from the comfort of my desk, as almost all of the away conference games are being live-streamed. The Dawgs got the first point of the first quarter on a foul shot by senior Tom Mooney, but Collingswood got 2 on the Panthers’ first possession.

A nice feed from Mooney to fellow senior Matthew Guveiyian put the Dawgs back on top by 1 again, but another basket by Collingswood put them up 1, 4–3 with 5:46 on the clock. Neither team scored for a few trips up and down the court. Two minutes would go by, in fact, before junior Teddy Bond’s shot seesawed the lead back to the Dawgs, 5–4; 20 seconds later, sophomore Daire Roddy made it 7–4, Haddonfield.

However, a 3 by the Panthers tied it at 10 with 1:40 to go in the quarter. With just under a minute left, Collingswood got 2 from the foul line to push ahead 9–7. After a near turnover by the Dawgs, senior Matt Leming launched a 3 to give the Dawgs back a 3-point, 10–9, lead with 24.5 seconds remaining. In what looked like a pretty empty gym, it was easy to hear the Collingswood coach’s instruction: “One shot.” That one shot, released just ahead of the buzzer, did not drop, so heading into the 2nd quarter, the Dawgs were still on top 10–9.

At the 7:12 mark of the 2nd quarter, Collingswood went to the foul line. That in and of itself was not unusual; what made it so was the fact that this trip to the line was a 1+1 opportunity, meaning that in less than 9 minutes of action, Haddonfield had committed seven fouls. One-and-ones don’t generally happen until the end of a half, but less than 60 seconds into the 2nd quarter, the Panthers converted both ends to slip back into the lead, 11–10.

Sophomore Sam Narducci’s bucket put the Dawgs back up 12–11, but not for long, as the Panthers scored on an uncontested shot to make it 13–12, Collingswood, with 6:11 left in the half. A floater by Carson Woolf flipped it back to a 14–13 Dawgs’ edge. A technical called on Collingswood sent Bond to the line, and he made both shots to put his team up by 3, 16–14. The Dawgs maintained possession of the ball but did not score.

Another Dawg foul set up another 1+1. This time, Collingswood got the first shot but not the second, making it 16-14 Haddonfield with 4:57 on the clock. Collingswood finally picked up its fourth foul of the game (to Haddonfield’s 8, not that anyone was counting) at the 4:55 mark. About 40 seconds later, senior Sean Beane’s 2 gave the Dawgs a 4-point, 18–14, lead.

After the Dawgs picked up foul #9, Collingswood stepped to the line once more. This time, both shots were good and the Dawgs’ lead was back to 2, 16–14. A pickoff by Collingswood resulted in—you guessed it—a 10th foul called against Haddonfield. I scribbled down, in all caps, I might add, “THIS IS UNREAL,”  and with 2 and change until half-time, Collingswood made 2 more foul shots to tie the game at 18. Bond broke that tie with a 3, which was followed by a 2 by Narducci and then a 3 by Narducci. And just like that, with 39 seconds left on the clock, the Dawgs had taken an 8-point, 26–18, lead, and that’s what was on the scoreboard as the half came to an end.

Mooney started the second half the same way he started the first: making 1–2 from the foul line. After Guveiyian took a charge and the Dawgs got the ball back, a 2 by Leming gave Haddonfield its first double-digit lead of the game, at 29-18, with 50 seconds gone in the 3rd. A drive by Mooney made it 31–18 with 6:05 on the clock. The Panthers didn’t get a basket until nearly 3 minutes had ticked off the clock, but the Dawgs answered with a 3 from Leming, as with 4:48, the Dawgs were up by 14, 34–20. Another basket by Collingswood made it 34–22 with 4:38 to go.

The Dawgs had gotten a little sloppy and after that Panther basket, the Dawgs committed two fouls on either side of a bad pass that resulted in a turnover. This time, Collingswood did not get any points from the foul line, and with 2:29 left in the 3rd, the score remained 34–22. At the other end, sophomore Patrick Ryan hit 2 from the line to make it 36–22, Haddonfield, with 1:53 on the clock. A few plays later, Ryan showed good hustle to keep the ball in the Dawgs’ possession, which enabled Leming to score to make it 38–22, Dawgs, with 35 seconds to go. The Panthers got a basket and a foul, but didn’t convert the shot from the line, and Leming ended the 3rd with a 3. Going into the last 8 minutes, the Dawgs had stretched an 8-point halftime lead into a 17-point, 41–24, lead.

The Dawgs would score another 15 points in the 4th and hold the Panthers again to 6 points. Guveiyian, Mooney, and fellow senior Evan Rohlfing each had a basket. Narducci had a pair, and Leming had another 2 and another 3. The final was 56–30. Leming led all Dawg scorers (10 players each had at least one basket) with 19. I am giving Haddonfield’s coach Paul Wiedeman an assist, which was his trademark while a Haddonfield player, as I had to ask him for a box score the next day. The lighting for the live stream was not great, so it was not always easy to read the numbers on the jerseys. (Even after I stopped the feed and rewound it a few times during the game, I wasn’t sure if I had given the right player credit for a shot, and apparently, more than once, I hadn’t.) Plus, with a few exceptions, most of the Dawg players have dark hair. Leming usually wears a headband, and it took me until the end of the 3rd quarter to realize he was wearing a dark blue one, which is why I had short-changed him 4 points.

Two days later, the Dawgs welcomed the Silver Knights of Sterling to their home turf. I was informed by a regular in the stands, former head coach Dave Wiedeman, that Sterling was good and it was going to be a tough game. The elder Wiedeman, as always, knew what he was talking about.

The game started off with neither team scoring during its first possession. Matthew Guveiyian, who went in for a “gentle” dunk, got the Dawgs’ on the board, but Sterling quicky answered, and with 6:22 on the clock, it was 2 all. Guveiyian was fouled his next attempt and made 1–2 from the line, and with a little more than 2 minutes gone in the quarter, it was 3–2, Haddonfield,.

After a scuffle on the floor for a loose ball, Sterling came away with it and scored. Haddonfield lost the ball on a travel. The Dawgs had good “D” under their basket to deny the Knights, but a bad pass turned the ball over, and this time, Sterling found the net to push the lead to 3, 6–3, with 4:25 on the clock. Mooney’s bucket made it a 1-point game, but after a foul called against the Dawgs, the Knights scored again to put them back up by 3, 8–5, with 3:36 to go in the 1st.

Guveiyian, who is more known for his points in the paint and his offensive and defensive boards, took Sterling by surprise with a 3 to tie it at 8. Sterling got the lead right back with a basket, and after neither team scored during a few trips up and down the court, Sterling took advantage of another Dawg turnover to go up by 4, 12–8, with 5.7 on the clock. A missed shot on the buzzer by Haddonfield kept the Dawgs trailing by 4 going to the 2nd quarter.

In the initial 2:57 of the 2nd, the two teams only mustered 3 points, all coming from the foul line. Sterling got 1 to go up by 5, 13–8, and then a pair by Mooney cut the lead down to 3, 13–10, with 5:58 on the clock. The first field goal of the quarter came from Wolff, to get the Dawgs to within 1, 12–13, at the 5:03 mark. Sterling got its first bucket down at its basket to go back up by 3, 15–12. The Dawgs had two shots fail to find the net, Sterling also failed to score, and then the Dawgs lost the ball on a traveling violation.

Another basket by Sterling put the Knights up by 5, 17–12, with 4 minutes to go until the half. Mooney made a nice weaving move to get to the basket and his shot did everything but drop. Sterling was having no trouble at all getting the ball in the net and scored its third unanswered basket to increase its lead to 7, 19–12, with 3:18 to go. A few plays later, Mooney secured a defensive board then went down the other end for a shot that did go in. A few seconds later, he went in for another 2 off a quick steal, and with 25 seconds remaining in the half, the Dawgs had gotten back to 3 and were down 16–19, which is how the half ended.

When play resumed in the 3rd quarter, Haddonfield came out looking energized. The Dawgs inbounded the ball and got the offensive board after a missed shot. That gave Teddy Bond the chance to let loose behind the arc and tie the game at 19 just 29 seconds into the 2nd half. Neither team scored, and then Sterling got called for a travel. Matt Leming got his first basket of the game, also a 3, to put the Dawgs out in front 22–19 with 6:48 on the clock. Again, the teams were not able to score for a few possessions. An offensive foul called on the Dawgs gave the Knights the ball back, and a 3 at their end tied it a 22 with 2:58 on the clock. Mooney was fouled in the act of shooting and made 1–2 from the line to push the advantage back to Haddonfield, 23–22, at the 2:18 mark.

A foul sent a Knight over the back of Mooney but since it wasn’t during a scoring attempt, the Dawgs had to inbound the ball. In a nice play, Bond passed the ball into Guveiyian, who went up and in to put the Dawgs up by 3, 25–22, with just under 2 minutes showing on the scoreboard. Sterling got a quick bucket and was fouled in the process. The foul shot was good and once again, the teams were knotted, this time at 25 all with 1:32 to go.

The Dawgs missed a shot, but Guveiyian, in an amazing feat (feet?) of balance, saved the ball from going out of bounds, and with 44.2 remaining, put the Dawgs back up by 2, 27–25, with another basket. Sterling drew even with 15 seconds to go. Senior Dante Del Duca (known as D3 in my notepad) was fouled attempting to score. With 6 seconds left, he made the first shot and missed the second, but Wolff got the rebound and scored, and the Dawgs were up  by 3, 30–27, going into the 4th.

Both teams were showing the weight of 24 minutes that had been a constant battle, as neither managed to score for the first 1:59 of the final quarter. Sterling’s 3 at 6:01 brought the teams even yet again at 30 all. At the other end, Wolff pulled down an offensive rebound and then sent the ball into the net to give the Dawgs a 2-point edge, 32–30, and with 5:43 left in the game, Coach Paul Wiedeman wanted a timeout.  Play-by-play announcer and DJ Mark Hershberger took that break to play a few strains of Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” which I always thought was a great basketball song. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what  Sterling did to make it 32–32, but could not go up by one on the follow-up foul shot.

The Dawgs picked an especially bad time to have a turnover, as it resulted in Sterling going up by 2, 34–32. After the Dawgs did not score, Sterling was fouled attempting to do so. Both foul shots were made, which gave the Knights a 4-point, 36–32, lead with 4:54 on the clock. 90 seconds would go by before Haddonfield got to the foul line with a 1+1 chance. The first shot did not go in, and after getting the rebound, Sterling scored to take a 6-point, 38–32, lead with a little less than 3 minutes to play.

Leming caused a jump ball and the Dawgs had the possession arrow. A Sterling foul sent Mooney to the line, again with a 1+1 in play. He made both shots to make it 38–34, Knights, with 2:43 left in regulation. Unfortunately for the Dawgs, Sterling hit a 3 and the Dawgs lost the ball on a travel on a bit of slippery court. Del Duca picked off the ball, the Knights were called for a foul, and Leming stepped to the foul line for a 1+1. He made both, and with 1:45, the Dawgs were still in the hole by 5, 36–41.

Wolff stole the ball but couldn’t quite hold onto it. Sterling kept possession on a jump ball call with 1:31 on the clock. But Mooney caused one of his own to get the Dawgs back the ball, only to have the Dawgs give it back to the Knights on an offensive foul call. Del Duca picked off the ball again … and again the Dawgs couldn’t hold onto it. Instead, a foul sent Sterling to the line with a 1+1 chance. Both shots went in, and with 45.1 seconds to go, the Dawgs were down by 7, 36–43.

Now, at about this “point,” it wasn’t looking too good for the Dawgs. However, the Dawgs never give up and concede a loss. After a full-time out by Sterling, Mooney got a 2 on a feed by Guveiyian. Now it was 43–38, Sterling, with 22.7 remaining. Haddonfield called a full time out. Off Sterling’s attempt to inbound the ball, Guveiyian intercepted it, passed it to Wolff, who went up and in. With 14.1 to go, Sterling’s lead was down to 3, 43–40.

This time the Knights got the ball in play and were fouled, bringing into play yet another crucial 1+1. With 8.4 on the clock, Sterling missed the front end, and Guveiyian grabbed the rebound.  Two times, the ball went out of bounds off Sterling. With 2.1 on the clock, Sterling called a full time out. The Dawgs had to inbound and were having trouble finding an open man. But Sterling committed a foul to help the Dawgs out. After Leming uncharacteristically missed both shots, the Dawgs tried for a rebound and lost it out of bounds.

All Sterling has to do is inbound the ball and the game is over. In trying to make a long pass into Sterling territory, the ball hits the rafters. It’s now Haddonfield’s ball again, and there is still 1.1 seconds on the clock. There is time for a very quick shot. It looks like Mooney is going to be the man to launch it, but … Haddonfield loses the ball. “WTF?” I demand on my notepad. (Everyone knows this translates into “What the foul??”) Sterling gets the ball back and this time makes a short pass to inbound the ball. The buzzer sounds. The Knights have swash-buckled their way to an intense, often crazy, 43–40 victory. Tom Mooney finished with 13 for the Dawgs, Matthew Guveiyian with 10.

After the game, I turn to—who else—the man in the know, aka Dave Wiedeman, for an explanation. He tells me in that last play by the Dawgs, they were called for an illegal screen. The fourth, Dave adds, of the game. On the way home, my driving buddy Vic Wiedeman says, “Paul’s been teaching his players that screen for 23 years …” Apparently, if that screen is now illegal, the Dawgs’ coach never got the memo.

On Sunday, 1/9, the Dawgs traveled down to Absecon and Holy Spirit High School to take part in the Seagull Classic. Their opponents was St. Joseph’s High School of Hammonton. I was hoping to find a stream of the game, but after many attempts, I had to give up. Luckily, I had a man on the scene, Mike Guveiyian, dad of Matthew. His first update was at the half, when the Dawgs were up by 1, 21–20, which was pretty amazing since Mike said 12 or so of St. Joe’s points were from the foul line. Since this was supposed to be another really tough opponent, I was heartened to hear the team was hanging in there. My next update was after the 3rd period. The Dawgs were now on top by 5, 33–28, which was sounding pretty good. The next update was not what I had hoped: At the end of regulation, the teams were tied at 37 and were headed to a 4-minute OT. “Aagghh!” I replied. The next message read,” 46–42 us with 1 minute left in OT. Other team hit a 3—we were up 7.” I was hoping the Dawgs would hang in for those last 60 seconds … With 19 seconds left, Mike reported that the Dawgs were ahead 48–44 and had possession. St. Joe’s was fouling. A short time later, I was told, “48–46. 6.7 left, our ball.” Jeez, this was getting too close again! After what seemed like a long time and wasn’t, I got the good news: The Dawgs had prevailed and won 50–46. Mooney and Leming made big foul shots at the end. I asked about the Guveiyian on the court and was told he pulled down a lot of rebounds. My last question to my reporter was, “Any illegal screens called on us?” “Zero” I was told.

So, in a long week the Dawgs managed to win 2 out of 3 games. They are now 6–2 overall and 3–1 in the Colonial Conference.

The week ahead has a bit of a scheduling oddity, as the Dawgs are playing conference games on Monday, 1/10 and Wednesday, 1/12. Both are home games, the first against Haddon Heights and the second versus Lindenwold. Friday is an away game at Gloucester City at 5:30. I am not sure what the status is as far as fans in the stands, but the game will be streamed live. Go HERE to watch it.