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Boys’ Basketball: Dawgs bounce back in conference play

By Lauree Padgett. Exclusive to Haddonfield[dot]Today

As the late, great Meatloaf once sang, “Two out of three ain’t bad.” It also sums up the past week of Haddonfield boys basketball. After dropping a tough home game on 1/27 to the Red Raiders of Paulsboro, the Dawgs had good wins versus Colonial Conference opponents Haddon Township and West Deptford to start off the month of February. However, in what sounds like an exciting game on Saturday at Holy Cross Academy against Cherokee, the Dawgs fell a bit short and lost by 4. I did not make it to the Cherokee game, as I was busy meeting the newest members of my family, Gwen and Ana, who debuted on 2-2-22. However, my courtside reporter Mike Guveiyian and my videographer Bill Tourtellotte, with an assist from,  provided me with some details to share.

But first, Haddonfield played host to Haddon Township on Tuesday, 2/1. This was a rematch of the Dawg’s first 2021–22 game and in some ways, it was quite similar to that game on Dec. 17. More on that shortly.

In what has become a fairly routine tipoff to start a contest, senior Matt Guveiyian jumps and tips the ball to a teammate; this time that tip went to sophomore Daire Roddy. He passed the ball to senior Tom Mooney and after a nice hesitation under the basket, Mooney went up and in to put the Dawgs on the board. A steal by senior Matt Leming prevented Haddon Township from even getting a shot off, but the Dawgs couldn’t take advantage and the Hawks got possession of the ball again. During their second possession, they were having a hard time penetrating the perimeter thanks to good D from the Dawgs and ended up turning over the ball on a travel.

This time junior Teddy Bond hit a 3 to put the Dawgs up by 5 with 5:51 on the clock. At the other end, Guveiyian blocked a shot and grabbed the ball, but the Dawgs had a miscommunication on a pass and lost the ball out of bounds. The Hawks answered with a 3 to make it 5–3, Haddonfield, with 3 minutes left in the first quarter.

Haddonfield’s next score came on a drive by Bond. Then, after a steal by Guveiyian, Leming took a step back to get beyond the arc and nailed a 3 to put the Dawgs up by 6, 9–3, with 2 and change left in the quarter. The Hawks would get the last points of the quarter on a field goal at the 55-second mark; they had a chance for more after the Dawgs had another turnover off an errant pass, but after holding the ball to wind down the clock, the shot didn’t drop.

Seniors Dante Del Duca and Carson Wolff entered the game to start the second quarter. It took more than 3 minutes before either team got a shot to go in the net, and when that happened, it was Mooney going up an in off an inbound pass. Another minute-plus ticked off the clock before another ball dropped. This time, it was the Hawks who scored, and with 1:43 left in the half, the Dawgs were up 11–7. It would be Haddon Township’s only basket—from the field or foul line—in the quarter.

The Dawgs’ next bucket came off a Guveiyian slam at the 1:14 mark. Wolff’s tenacity on defense caused a jump ball to give possession back to his team. After an off-the-mark shot under the Haddonfield basket, Mooney secured a loose ball and got fouled with 43.3 seconds to go. It was non-shooting, so play continued. The Dawgs were also working for a good shot as the seconds ticked off the scoreboard. Mooney sent off what looked like an off-balance floater that nevertheless found the net, which pushed the Dawgs’ lead to 8, 15–7, with 25 seconds to go. The Hawks had the possession and kept it after another jump ball was called. After the ball went out of bounds off Haddonfield, Mooney stole it and went cross-court for 2. When the buzzer sounded seconds later, the Dawgs had a 10-point, 17–7, advantage as they headed to the locker room.

In the third quarter, the Dawgs picked things up a bit offensively, putting 13 points on the board while holding the Hawks to 4. In these 8 minutes, Mooney powered to the basket three times and also hit a foul shot. Roddy hit a 3, Leming made a 2, and Guveiyian went 1–2 from the foul line. Heading into the last quarter, the Dawgs were up 30–11.

In the 4th, Haddon Township actually outscored Haddonfield by 7, putting 16 on the board to Haddonfield’s 9. Once again, Mooney provided most of the Dawgs’ offense, scoring another 2-point basket and sinking 4 from the line. Del Duca swooshed in a 3, and Roddy converted a foul shot. When all was said and done, the Dawgs had once again prevailed against the Hawks, winning by a score of 39–27. As the astute young man sitting next to me, who happened to be Coach Paul Wiedeman’s youngest offspring Matt, noted, this was the exact same score as the matchup in December. Also similarly, Tom Mooney accounted for most of the Dawgs’ points. In December, he put 18 on the board; this time, it was 19.

Thursday, 2/3, the Dawgs traveled down to West Deptford. It was a 5:30 game and neither I nor my travel buddy really wanted to be on 295 in the midst of rush hour when the game was being streamed by West Deptford. I know last year I gave kudos to the Eagles for providing great video and play-by-play, and I want to do it again. The added feature this year was that once I brought up the West Deptford YouTube feed, a countdown appeared showing how soon the game would start. Since I often have anxious moments ahead of games I am going to live stream when I bring up the feed and there is nothing happening on the screen, it was great to know that the game feed for the Eagles–Dawgs game was all set up and ready to go. A few minutes before the countdown clock hit 0, I pressed play and was able to see the end of the warmups (although the camera only focused on the Eagles—go figure!).

I also found out that the two men doing the play-by-play were not students, as I assumed last year. One was a former Eagle basketball player and the other was a former coach. Both did nice commentary throughout the game and weren’t afraid to talk about the kinds of teams Haddonfield always has thanks to their coaching staff. At the outset, both men said that while it had been a rough year for the team, which was going into the night with a  4–11 record, there were signs of progress. They agreed that goal in their rematch with Haddonfield was not to get blown out this time, as in their December meeting, the Dawgs had won by 58 points.

In the first quarter, thanks in part to Leming, who scored four times—on three 2’s and one trey—the Dawgs put 15 on the board. Roddy and Guveiyian each had a basket, and Mooney made 2 foul shots. The Eagles got 7 points, which was a 4-point improvement over the first quarter of their previous contest versus Haddonfield, and as the quarter ended, the Dawgs were up 15–7. As I usually do when Haddonfield is on the road, I texted Mark Hershberger, who was getting ready to call the girls home game against the Eagles. His reply was, “What??????”

If he thought that first quarter score was a bit unexpected, he hadn’t seen anything yet. In the second quarter, the Dawgs’ stifling defense held the Eagles scoreless. However, the Dawgs only got 2 baskets. One came off a nice pass from Guveiyian to Bond at the 3:12 mark; the other came off a Wolff pickoff and pass to Mooney, who went up and in. So when the halftime buzzer sounded, the Dawgs were up by 12, 19–7, even though they had not exactly lit up the scoreboard.

I’m not sure if the Dawgs just needed some extra time to warm up—it had been a pretty cold week!—or if their coaching staff gave them a pep talk and changed strategies a little, but when the 3rd quarter started, the team looked more focused under their own basket, which translated into a lot more shots being taken and going into the net. West Deptford also seemed to shake off the cobwebs and started getting shots to drop, for after Mooney got things going with 2 in the paint to start the Dawgs’ 2nd half scoring, the Eagles answered with a basket. So, with only 45 seconds gone, both teams had made shots and it was 21–9, Haddonfield.

Leming got the next bucket from behind the arc, and West Deptford ended up on the foul line their next possession, making 1–2. Guveiyian went down hard trying to score and also made 1–2 from the line. (My one minor complaint about the West Deptford feed was that while it showed the running score at the bottom, the scoreboard clock was only visible from one side of the court, so I was often having to wait until the action moved to the other basket to get an approximate time a basket was made at the other end. Sometimes, I didn’t get a chance to do the math—subtracting 3–4 seconds from the clock for the previous basket—because too much was happening.) After Guveiyian’s foul shot, Leming stole the ball and took it all the way to the hoop. He was also fouled, and with 5:47 showing on the clock, his foul shot made it 27–10, Dawgs.

The two teams exchanged buckets, with Haddonfield’s coming on a 2 by Mooney, and with 4:50 to go in the quarter, the Dawgs were up 29–12. After a Haddonfield pickoff, Leming scored on a feed from Mooney to make it 31–12 with just under 4 minutes on the clock. The next basket came from the Eagles at the 2:41 mark, and was followed by a 3 from Del Duca on the Dawgs’ next possession, which pushed the Dawgs’ lead to 20, 34–14. Sophomore Sam Narducci had not been long in the game when he knocked down a 3 off a pass from Wolff.

With 1:08 left in the period and Haddonfield up 37–14,, a ref called a timeout after a West Deptford player got an inadvertent poke in the eye. While it definitely wasn’t intentional, it still had to hurt. When play resumed, the Eagles would get one more basket, and as the quarter came to an end, they were trailing by 21, 37–17. However, since they had been down 67–18 after 3 in their previous game against Haddonfield, this definitely was an improvement.

In the 4th quarter, the Dawgs only outscored the Eagles by 4, just like in the 2nd. However, this time, they put 15 points on the board to their host’s 11. Mooney scored 6 on a trio of buckets and Narducci nailed another 3. Senior Evan Rohlfing made a pair from the foul line and senior Christian Raymond scored 4, 2 on a basket and 2 from the foul line.

The final score was still a bit one-sided: Haddonfield won by 25, 52–27. But you got the feeling the Eagles may have gotten a moral (or maybe a morale?) victory, knowing they had put up more of a fight on both ends of the court this go-round. Matt Leming led the Dawgs with 19 and Tom Mooney added 12.

These two wins put the Dawgs at 14–3 overall and 10–2 in Colonial Conference play.

While I was waiting for my two great nieces to arrive at my sister’s (their nana’s) house in Haddon Heights on Saturday, the Dawgs were doing battle with the Chiefs of Cherokee High School. From what I heard, it was a close all four quarters. The Dawgs were up after 1 by a point, 10–9; by the end of the second, the Chiefs had flipped that to a 1-point 23–22 advantage. In the 3rd, the Chiefs had edged out to a 3-point, 33–30, lead.

Mike Guveiyian gave me the last few minutes of the final quarter in short updates. While the Dawgs were trailing by 6, 35–41, with 4:13 left in the game, they had whittled that down to 3, 38–41, with 1:38 left. That was as close as the Dawgs could get, however, and when the horn sounded, the Dawgs had suffered only their 4th defeat of the season, losing 43–39. Mike said that Cherokee was “lights out” with 3-point shots, and added that he wasn’t sure they’d missed one the whole game.

Bill Tourtellotte, whom I have known since the second grade, echoed that the Chiefs hit a bunch of 3’s during the game when he emailed me videoclips of almost all the Dawgs’ scoring. He is no doubt trying to hone his camera skills since his oldest son, Ryan, is now a member of the frosh b-ball team. I watched all the clips and tallied points. When I was a few points short, I resorted to checking the box score off to figure out what I was missing. It looks like Leming and Mooney did most of the scoring for Haddonfield, knocking in 13 and 12 points, respectively. I will also note that the box score caused me some mental agitation, as the quarter scores it gave didn’t add up correctly to the final score. From Mike’s quarter scores, I was able to deduce that instead of each team putting 9 on the board in the 4th, as the box score indicated, Cherokee had outscored the Dawgs by 1.

Looking to the week ahead, the Dawgs have another trio of games lined up. Tuesday, 2/8, is a 7 p.m. home game versus Collingswood. Thursday, 2/10, the Dawgs will head to Sterling for a 5:30 contest and try to do what the Silver Knights did to them last month: beat them on their home court. Finally, on Saturday, 2/12, the Dawgs will go up against Camden Catholic in a tournament at Paul VI.