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Boys’ Basketball: Dawgs keep finding ways to win

By Lauree Padgett / Exclusive to Haddonfield[dot]Today

The Haddonfield boys basketball team seems to have shaken off the early January blahs that had them looking so-so at best the first week of the new year. Now, they’re looking like a new, invigorated team. Since their back-to-back losses to Colonial rival Sterling on 1/5 and Hammonton on 1/7, the Dawgs have won seven straight games, including two this past week to conference teams and one against a top-ranking Cape Atlantic school. One of the games was a slam dunk, but the other two matches required a huge amount of effort and coming from behind in the fourth quarters.

I’m going to go out of order to do a quick write-up of the 30-plus-point blowout, then look more closely at the games that went down to the wire, in one case, the final shots.

Haddonfield at Collingswood, 1/19/23

On Thursday, 1/19, Haddonfield traveled to nearby Collingswood, a team that usually gives the Dawgs a run for their money. No matter what their records are going into these matchups, you never want to miss them, and you never feel overconfident. Back in the Brian Zoubek era, I went to a home game only a few days after major surgery. (I took the elevator up to the top of the bleachers so I didn’t have to go up and down steps.) My sister the nurse was not too happy with me, but my rationale was waiting to hear the final score would do more emotional damage than actually being at the game. Games at Collingswood always seemed the most stress-inducing, and I still shudder thinking about a 2004 game when junior guard Vinnie Ciecka saw his season end with a broken ankle after a hard collision with a Panther player near the end of the game. This game, however, had little of the drama of those from years past.

By the end of the first quarter, led by junior Patrick Ryan’s trio of field goals, treys by juniors Matt Morris and Sam Narducci and senior Teddy Bond, plus a bucket and two foul shots by junior Zach Langan, the Dawgs were ahead by 11, 19–8. In the second and third quarters, the Dawgs’ offense really cut loose. Morris and Narducci combined for 15 of the Dawgs’ 23 points in the second. Ryan exploded for 11 in the third, when the Dawgs put 25 points on the board. In the last quarter, anyone who had not gotten in the game before then saw action, and juniors Phil McFillin and Mike Feinstein swooshed in the last two of the Dawgs’ nines. The final score was Haddonfield 77, Collingswood, 34. The only quarter the Panthers hit double digits, 11, was in the third, but in those 8 minutes, the Dawgs still more than doubled that tally. I almost felt bad for the Collingswood team, and to their credit, the Panthers played hard all four quarters, even though the score did not reflect it.

Quarter Scores:
1st: Haddonfield, 19, Collingswood, 8
2nd: Haddonfield, 42, Collingswood, 16
3rd: Haddonfield, 67, Collingswood, 27
4th: Haddonfield, 77, Collingswood, 34

Player Scores:
Patrick Ryan: 19
Sam Narducci: 15
Zach Langan: 12
Matt Morris: 11
Teddy Bond: 9
Phil McFillin: 5
Nate Rohlfing: 3
Mike Feinstein: 3

Woodbury at Haddonfield, 1/15/23

If you just looked at the quarter scores for this game against Woodbury, you wouldn’t get the full picture of what transpired on the floor for 32 minutes. But for those of us who were in the stands(or watching via the Haddonfield YouTube stream), we can attest that the Herd was Thundering throughout the whole game.

In the first quarter, the Herd hit its first 3 of the game (there would be many more to follow) with less than 20 seconds gone off the clock. A nice jumper by junior Daire Roddy got the Dawgs on the board, but Woodbury got the next 2 baskets, a 3 and then a 2 off an offensive rebound, and with 4 and change left in the quarter, they were up 8–2. At the other end, Haddonfield missed its shot and the ball went out of bounds. This time, Woodbury did not score thanks to a blocked shot by Patrick Ryan and a rebound by Teddy Bond. This set up the Dawgs’ first 3 of the quarter, by Sam Narducci, and after a hard defensive rebound by Zach Langan, Ryan’s bucket brought the Dawgs to within 1, 7–8, with 2:55 on the clock.

An easy layup by Woodbury put them back up by 3, but a basket in the paint off an offensive board by Langan make it a 1-point, 9–10, game again. Bond had a busy and effective spirt, knocking the ball out of bounds on Woodbury’s side of the court, then blocking a shot. His 3 at the 1:22 mark gave the Dawgs their first lead, 12–10. A few possessions later, Narducci turned a steal into 2, and with 25.2 seconds to go, the Dawgs were up by 4, 14–10. However, Woodbury’s 3 just ahead of the buzzer trimmed that lead down to 1, 14–13.

Just as they had in the first quarter, the Thundering Herd got on the board first, stealing the ball after they failed to do so after inbounding the ball to begin second quarter action. That resulted in them retaking the lead by 1. After Haddonfield couldn’t quite hold onto an offensive rebound, Woodbury scored again, and less than 50 seconds into the second quarter, the Herd was up by 4, 17–13. Langan’s bucket cut that down to 1. After a pickoff by Matt Morris, the Dawgs were fouled and had a chance at the line to tie or go back in front but weren’t able to do so. That hurt when the Herd’s third scoring chance off three offensive boards went in, inching their lead up to 3, 19–16. They had a chance to add 1 more point from the line, but the shot did not drop. However, the Herd grabbed another offensive board, but this time, a pickoff by Haddonfield deprived them of another scoring opportunity.

An offensive board by Bond gave Nate Rohlfing a chance under the rim, and he drove in hard for 2 and was fouled. His shot dropped in, and with 4:01 left in the half, the game was tied for the first time at 19 all. That tie didn’t last long as Woodbury again got 2 after a man was left open under the basket. Rohlfing’s basket on a feed by Roddy knotted it at 21 with 3:23 to go. Both teams went a bit cold for almost 2 minutes before Morris was fouled with 47.8 on the clock. His shots put the Dawgs back up by 2, 23–21. Narducci nearly stole the ball, but good pressure “D” under the basket kept Woodbury from finding the net. When the buzzer sounded to end the half, that 2-point lead was still in effect.

In case you were wondering, yes, the Herd got the first basket of the third quarter, although it didn’t come until almost 2 minutes had ticked off the clock. Good defense by Woodbury kept the Dawgs off the board until Ryan went up and in on a nice pass from Roddy, giving the Dawgs back a 2-point, 25–23, edge at the 5:04 mark. In its next possession, Woodbury tied the game at 25, and after a bad pass at the other end by Haddonfield, hit a 3 to reclaim the lead 28–25, with 4:05 on the clock. A steal resulted in 2-pointer, but since the Herd player was fouled in the process, the end result was the same—3 points were added to Woodbury’s score – as he sank the shot from the line. This gave Woodbury its biggest lead of the night, 31–25, with 3:49 on the clock.

A floater by Roddy, who has a nice touch from outside, got the Dawgs back to within 4, 27–31. After a defensive board by Bond, the Dawgs lost the ball out of bounds, but Woodbury gave the ball back by picking up an offensive foul. Another board, this time offensive by Bond, resulted in Bond’s second 3 of the game, and with 2:26 left in the third, the Dawgs were only trailing by a point, 30–31. Woodbury managed to grab the ball under their basket after a blocked shot by Haddonfield, but Narducci pulled off another steal ,and his basket flipped the lead back to Haddonfield, 32–31, with 1:49 left in the third.

Bond’s third trey of the game, helped by a friendly bounce off the rim, make it 35–31, and a foul by the Herd gave the ball back to Haddonfield. This time the Dawgs got 2 on a drive by Narducci that put them on top by 6 once more, 37–31. A foul at the other end put Woodbury at the line. Both shots were good, making it a 4-point, 37–33, game with 56.3 to go. After a near steal by the Herd, which was saved by Narducci, he scored, but a 3 ahead of the buzzer by Woodbury meant going into the fourth, the Dawgs were only up by 3, 39–36.

That 3-point lead was washed away when Woodbury got the first basket of the fourth, not quite 2 minutes in, a 3, to tie it at 39. Rohlfing’s bucket in the paint gave the Dawgs the lead again, briefly, before the Herd thundered in another 3 with just under 5 minutes remaining in the game to go up by 1, 42–41. Ryan got fouled going in for a basket and headed to the foul line, where he converted 1–2 to create yet another tie with about 4:30 left. After a timeout, Woodbury kept passing the ball and passing the ball. When a shot was finally taken, it did not go in, and Ryan grabbed the rebound. The Dawgs were no more successful under their basket, and with 3:04 on the clock it was still a 42–42 game.

The good news for Dawgs’ fans was that Woodbury would not score again. This was partially because after another timeout, the Herd played stall ball, winding almost 2 minutes off the clock before a held ball call gave Haddonfield possession at the 1:03 mark. The Dawgs ticked a bit of time off the clock as well before Narducci nailed a huge 3 with 47 seconds left, putting the Dawgs up by 3, 45–42. At the other end, Rohlfing secured a defensive board, and this time, Haddonfield called a full timeout with 12.0 showing on the clock. Woodbury had a few fouls to give before Morris was sent to the line with 4.7 left. He calmly sent both shots through the net, giving the Dawgs a 47–42 lead, which turned into a 47–42, victory. While Narducci was the only Dawg in double figures, with 14, all the Haddonfield players who got into the game scored.

Quarter Scores;
1st: Haddonfield, 14, Woodbury, 13
2nd: Haddonfield, 23, Woodbury, 21
3rd: Haddonfield, 39, Woodbury, 36
4th: Haddonfield, 47, Woodbury, 42

Player Scores:
Sam Narducci: 14
Teddy Bond: 9
Nate Rohlfing: 7
Patrick Ryan: 5
Daire Roddy: 4
Zach Langan: 4
Matt Morris: 4

Mainland vs. Haddonfield at Paul VI, 1/21/23

I wasn’t sure that I was going to get to this game, but I was very happy when my travel buddy texted me mid-afternoon Saturday to see if I wanted a ride. Considering how crowded it has been at previous Winter Classic tournaments at Paul VI, it was quite surprising to see how empty the stands were for this 5:30 game. (The Eagles game didn’t start until 8, after all.) Fans for both teams who stayed home for whatever reason missed a really nerve-wracking but exciting game. The Mainland Mustangs were sporting a 14–1 overall record and were sitting in first place, at 8–0, atop the Cape-Atlantic League. No doubt about it: The Dawgs were going to have their work cut out for them.

The game started, and Mainland immediately hit a 3 after getting the possession off the tipoff. Haddonfield lost the ball on an errant pass, but Daire Roddy got it back on a steal. The Mustangs drew the first (non-shooting) foul of the game, but the Dawgs couldn’t take advantage of it and failed to score. Then the Dawgs really kicked into defensive high gear, showing off their trademark full press. The Mustangs were being corralled on the perimeter and couldn’t figure out how to get the ball inside. A timeout did not help. Zach Langan, who would have himself quite the game offensively and defensively, kept at his opponent and finally stole the ball. He slipped and lost the ball out of bounds, but Sam Narducci stole it right back, driving in the lane for Haddonfield’s first basket. He was fouled but his shot from the line didn’t drop, keeping it a 1-point, 3–2, Mainland lead. That lead went back to 3 with 5:33 on the clock.

Narducci was fouled again, ahead of the shot this time, and this time, both his baskets from the line were good, drawing the Dawgs back to within 1, 4–5. The defensive pressure from the Dawgs was still causing Mainland problems, especially when trying to pass the ball. After losing possession on one such bad pass, the Mustangs then lost the lead when Narducci hit a 3, putting the Dawgs ahead for the first time, 7–5, with 4:43 on the clock. Mainland still was not having a lot of luck getting the ball inside because they couldn’t get away from the Haddonfield press. But they had a few players who could shoot behind the arc, including #3, Cohen Cook (I looked him up after the game), whose trey put the Mustangs back in front 8–7, with 3:43 remaining in the quarter.

The Dawgs failed to score, got possession after a big scramble on the floor for the ball (and I do mean on the floor), but then lost it on an offensive charge. The Mustangs managed to find a path to the basket and put the ball up and in, pushing their lead to 3, 10–7, with 2:57 on the clock. Neither team scored for a few possessions. (Cook nearly had another 3, but it rimmed in and out.) After both teams traded turnovers, Nate Rohlfing, just into the game for Haddonfield, scored under the basket on an assist from Daire Roddy, getting the Dawgs back to within 1, 9–10, with a minute to go. That was the final basket of the quarter, so going into the second 8 minutes of play, the Dawgs were trailing by 1.

Mainland inbounded to start the second, and Langan pulled down the rebound from the missed shot. Narducci drove in for 2, had a chance to make a 3-point play from the line, but the ball didn’t drop for him. Still, with less than a minute gone, the Dawgs were back in front 11–10. Langan stole the ball (he would do this seven times during the game), the Dawgs could not score, but at the other end, Mainland had two chances, neither fell (hampered by the Dawgs’ continuing man-to-man defense). After the ball went out of bounds off Haddonfield, Mainland could not find an open man and turned the ball over on a travel violation. Alas, Haddonfield then committed a walk at their end, and a drive by the Mustangs seesawed the lead back to their favor, 12–11, with 4:41 left in the half.

Matt Morris, who usually starts the second quarter, whether he’s gotten into the game before then or not, drove in for a reverse layup, switching the game again to the Dawgs’ favor, 13–12. A blocked shot by Rohlfing and a rebound by Langan (he collected seven of them in the course of the game as well) set the stage for a 3 (thanks to a roll) by Langan, giving the Dawgs a 4-point, 16–12, advantage with 3 and change left in the half.

Haddonfield knocked the ball out of bounds under the Mainland basket, and then Rohlfing got another blocked shot. After a foul by Haddonfield and a near steal, Mainland got a basket and went to the foul line. The foul shot was good, so with 2:36 remaining in the quarter, the Dawgs were still up, but only by 1, 16–15. After an offensive board by Langan and an out-of-bounds call on the Mustangs, Rohlfing scored, pushing the Dawgs’ lead to 3, 18–15, with 2 and change left. After a near pickoff by Haddonfield, Mainland got a basket, and once more, the Dawgs’ lead had dwindled down to 1, 18–17.

A shooting foul by Mainland sent the Dawgs to the line, and neither shot went in. (I will interject here that I hope the Dawgs spend some extra time in their next practices working on foul shots, as in close contests like the ones against Mainland and Woodbury, when every point matters, free throws could make or break a game.) At the other end, another Rohlfing block (he is the tallest Dawg, listed at 6-8 on the team roster) set up a cross-court drive by Morris, making it 20–17, Dawgs with less than a minute left in the half. A steal by, you got it, Langan, caused a frustration foul by Mainland, giving the Dawgs a 1+1 opportunity (if you make the first shot, you get a second shot), but again, the Dawgs missed from the line. However, Morris pulled down the offensive board with 37.3 seconds until the half, and the Dawgs were passing the ball, going for the last shot. Mainland committed a foul with 5.9 to go, giving the Dawgs another 1+1 shot.

Narducci made the first but missed the second, and Mainland’s last shot attempt was no good. As the teams headed off the court, the Dawgs were up by 4, 21–17.

The third quarter, which has been the Dawgs’ bread and butter most of the season, proved to be less than stellar for Haddonfield this game. Although the Dawgs built on their lead early on, up by 6, 26–20, with 5:45 on the clock, the Mustangs weren’t about to give up and about 2:30 minutes later, had put the reins on the Dawgs to retake the lead, 27–26. After the Dawgs did not get a basket, they could not secure an offensive board, giving the Mustangs multiple chances to score, which they finally did, and at the 3:10 mark, they were up by 3, 29–26.

With 2:44 on the clock, I scribbled down how shocked a Mainland player was that after falling on Bond, he got called for a foul. The foul was non-shooting, and the Dawgs turned the ball over. After Haddonfield got charged with its fifth foul of the half, Mainland got a 3, and with 1:41 left in the quarter, was up by 6, 32–26. Narducci’s two shots from the foul line cut that to 32–28 with 1:29 on the clock, but Mainland answered with a field goal to go back up by 6, 28–34. Bond picked a great time to hit a 3, and after Mainland’s shot did not fall ahead of the buzzer, the Dawgs were behind by 3, 31–34, going into the fourth quarter, having been outscored in the third 10–17.

As the team walked out onto the court to begin the last quarter, senior captain Teddy Bond had the players in a huddle, taking the lead when the team needed to show its mettle to get back in the game. And they did. Although none of them dropped, the team got off four shots before losing the ball out of bounds at the 7:01 mark. Morris got the defense going on a steal and took the ball to the basket to make it a 1-point, 34–33, Mainland lead with 6:00 left in the game. Under the Mustang basket, Haddonfield was called for a foul, sending Mainland to the line. Neither shot went int, and with 5:44 on the clock, it was still a 1-point game.

It stayed that way after the Dawgs went to the line and missed both shots. After Mainland lost the ball out of bounds (the Dawgs were playing tougher defense again), Morris again drove into the paint and scored, putting the Dawgs on top by 1, 35–34. I was cheering too much to note what time was showing on the clock. But with 4:46 to go, Mainland got fouled again and made 1–2 from the line, and for the first time in the game, the score was tied at 35 with just under 5 minutes to go. The second shot did not drop, Narducci got the rebound, and Haddonfield coach Paul Wiedeman called a timeout.

Mainland stole the ball off the inbounds pass, but Morris got the defensive board and went down court and scored, giving Haddonfield back the lead, 37–35, with 4:07 on the clock. Mainland tied it again with 3:36 left in the game. The Mustangs got called for a non-shooting foul, and Morris got his biggest basket of the game, a 3, to put the Dawgs up by 3, 40–37, with 3:25 to go. Mainland responded with a 2 to cut the lead to 1, 40-39, with 3:00 on the clock. Timeout was called with 2:42 left. When play resumed, Haddonfield had possession and Mainland committed a non-shooting foul. With 2:15 on the clock, Langan knocked down a 3 on a feed from Morris, putting the Dawgs up by 4, 43–39.

Mainland called a timeout, and after scoring a field goal, making it 43–41, Haddonfield, with 1:43 remaining, yet another timeout was called by Haddonfield. This time, the Dawgs did not score on their possession. The Mustangs missed their shot, got the rebound, and got fouled. With 1:13 on the clock and the chance to pull the game even, Mainland stepped to the line. Neither shot went in, but the ball went out of bounds off Haddonfield with 1:09 left. The Mustangs were having trouble getting a shot lined up, but a Dawg foul sent them to the line again. This time, the first shot went in, making it a 1-point, 43–42, game, but the second did not, and Bond pulled down the board.

Haddonfield called timeout with 25.8 seconds to go. The Mustangs had fouls to give before the Dawgs would head to the line for a 1+1, so they fouled at the 22.1 mark. Two seconds later, after inbounding the ball, Haddonfield was called for traveling. This meant the Mustangs would have a chance for the final shot to win the game. The Dawgs mounted a final defense of the basket and the Mustangs were forced to call a timeout with 6.4 on the clock. The pressure was on Mainland to get a good shot off, but it was also on Haddonfield to not foul while protecting the net. Cook drove up and in for Mainland. His shot hit the rim and bounced off. Mainland tried to rebound and reshoot, but it was too late. The final horn sounded. The Dawgs had prevailed, winning a hard-fought, four-quarter battle against a very worthy opponent by the slimmest of margins, 43–42.

Matt Morris and Sam Narducci finished with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Zach Langan finished with 9 points, all coming off 3’s.

Quarter Scores:
1st: Haddonfield, 9, Mainland, 10
2nd: Haddonfield, 21, Mainland, 17
3rd: Haddonfield, 31, Mainland, 34
Haddonfield, 43, Mainland, 42

Player Scores:
Matt Morris: 13
Sam Narducci: 12
Zach Langan: 9 (7 rebounds, 7 steals)
Nate Rohlfing: 4 (plus a lot of blocked shots)
Teddy Bond: 3
Patrick Ryan: 2

Haddonfield improved its record this past week to 13–3 overall and 8–1 in the Colonial Conference Liberty Division. The team hosts Audubon on Tuesday, 1/24, and Haddon Heights on Thursday, 1/26. Both games start at 7:00 p.m. and will be streamed on Haddonfield’s YouTube channel. Saturday, 1/28, the Dawgs will continue the tradition of competing in the Jeff Coney Classic at Rancocas Valley High School, going up against Burlington Township. The game is scheduled to tip off at 3:00 p.m.