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Boys’ Basketball: Scoring drought leads to rough (1–2) showing

By Lauree Padgett Exclusive to Haddonfield[got]Today

Well, the week started out well enough, as the Dawgs, minus junior starter Daire Roddy, who was out due to COVID protocol, hosted the Red Raiders of Paulsboro on Tuesday, 1/3. Unlike some recent games versus this Colonial Conference Patriot division rival, the Dawgs were in control most of the game. By the final buzzer, they had put 72 points on the board to their opponents’ 52.

Two nights later, the Dawgs headed to Sterling to play another one of their Colonial nemeses. As their announcers noted, going into Thursday’s game, the Silver Knights had won three out of the last four matchups between these two Liberty division teams, dating back to the COVID-shortened 2021 season (no games were played in December of 2020). Haddonfield had avenged those three defeats by coming back to win in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 2 round three game in March of 2022 by 1 point, 26–25 thanks in part to some last-second defensive and offensive heroics by Matt Guveiyian.

The commentators went on to add that coming into the game, both teams were undefeated (4–0) in conference play and boasted a 6–1 record overall. Furthermore, the teams were very close in both points scored and given up per game so far this season. When the game was over, one team would remain on top of the Liberty division at 5–0 and one team would drop to 4–1. Unfortunately, the Dawgs faltered in the second half and lost by 8, 39–47.

Two days later, in a nonleague game on Saturday, 1/7 (while I, along with the fictitious residents of River City, Iowa, was being cast under the spell of Hugh Jackman’s Harold Hill), the Dawgs were still under a lack-of-scoring spell and lost again by 8 points, this time to Hammonton, 37–45. Obviously, I did not see this game, and while my nearly lifelong friend (and sometimes nemesis) Bill Tourtellotte kindly sent me a link to stream the game, after I heard from two other basketball buddies that the Dawgs lost and it wasn’t pretty, I decided to skip seeing a second loss within a week’s time.

So, I’m going to do something different (again) and compare the victory versus Paulsboro to the Dawgs’ upending by Sterling. This will be a little tricky, as Paulsboro (minus a key player, I was told) was not as tough an opponent as Sterling. Also, the Dawgs may have missed Roddy, who was still out on Thursday (I’m assuming that was the case Saturday as well), more against the Silver Knights than they did against the Red Raiders. OK, with all that said, here goes!

In the first 8 minutes against Paulsboro, four Haddonfield players (juniors Matt Morris, Paul Ryan, and Sam Narducci and senior Teddy Bond) combined for 16 points, including 3’s by Morris, Narducci, and Bond. The Dawg defense stole the ball three times, aided in the two traveling violations that were called against the Raiders, and held them to 9 points, with the last basket by Paulsboro coming on a 3 that just rolled in ahead of the buzzer.

The first quarter at Sterling was a reversal of fortunes. Three Dawgs scored (Morris, Ryan, and Narducci) but all were on 2-pointers. The Silver Knights saw a pair of treys drop and after Ryan’s basket got the Dawgs back to within 1, 8–9, with 1:09 to go, the Knights would score the last 7 points, putting them up by 6, 16–10, as the quarter ended.

In the second quarter of both games, the team that was down after the first 8 minutes actually outscored their opponents in the next 8. In the Dawgs–Raiders game, Paulsboro came back out on the court and after getting 3 points in the first 4 minutes, had an offensive spurt in the last 4 before half, adding 12 points (including 3 3’s) to get to within 3, 24–27. Meanwhile, in those same 8 minutes, the Dawgs’ offense dropped a bit, as they only added 11 to their tally. Just three players scored (Narducci, junior Zach Langan, and Bond), and out of five baskets, only one, Bond’s, was from behind the arc.

At the Sterling game, the Dawgs “D” got really tough, and Sterling managed one basket, a floater for 2, about midway through the second quarter. The Dawgs had a lot of chances to put more than 8 points, on three baskets (a 3 by Morris and Bond and a 2 by junior Nate Rohlfing), on the board. They missed easy layups, they missed foul shots, and had some fouls called off illegal screens. In other words, even while the Dawgs pulled even, tying the Knights at 18 thanks to the 3 from Bond that bounced on the rim before rolling in at the 3:09 mark, they could have, make that should have, gotten at least a few more points on the board before halftime.

In the third quarter of the Paulsboro contest, the Dawgs really started pulling away. In 8 minutes, six players combined for 27 points, which matched the team’s total output from the first 16 minutes. Out of 11 baskets, 10 were 2-pointers. Langan hit the trey this time, and he and Rohlfing both sank two free throws.

In the third quarter at Sterling, the Dawgs missed a lot more baskets than they made. The Knights got the first 2 points of the third on a nice drive to go up 20–18 with 5:37 on the clock.  Morris’ second 3 of the game would give the Dawgs the slimmest of leads, 21–20, 30 seconds later. Sterling missed an easy layup, but Haddonfield couldn’t take advantage of it. Then on their next possession, the Knights retook the lead, 22–21, on another smooth maneuver in the paint.

This time the Dawgs had an answer, with a field goal from Ryan on a feed from Morris. After Langan pulled down a rebound under Sterling’s basket, Narducci’s jumper gave the Dawgs’ their biggest lead, 3 points, 25–22, with 3:17 left in the quarter. After Sterling came away empty-handed (netted?) at the foul line at the 2:06 mark, the Dawgs had a chance to extend their lead, also from the foul line. Neither of their shots dropped either  With just under 2 minutes to go in the third, Sterling again had free throw opportunities. This time, one of the shots dropped in, making it a 2-point, 25–23 game.

Sterling brought the match even at 25 off a steal and a field goal. After the Dawgs missed an easy 2 under the basket, they committed a shooting foul. With 58.9 left in the third, the Knights edged back in front 27–25 on 2 made foul shots. The Dawgs missed another field goal attempt, the Knights were successful, and with 29.1 on the clock, the Knights were back up by 4, 29–25. With 15.8 seconds left, the Dawgs were able to convert 2 free throws courtesy Narducci. Those would be the last points of third, and going into the 4th, the Dawgs were trailing by 2, 27–29.

The 4th quarter of the Paulsboro game, Morris, Narducci, and Bond added to their individual totals as well as their team’s, each knocking in 4. Junior Joe Tedeschi, who played in three of the four quarters, got a basket, as did junior Jack Walters, who saw some action in the last quarter. Together, they contributed 18 points. Although Paulsboro would score 17, it didn’t matter, and Haddonfield came away with a double-digit, 20-point 72–52, win.

On Thursday, the home team also put 18 points on the board in the 4th; the visitors could only muster 12. That meant that when the horn sounded, Sterling remained the only undefeated team in the Liberty Colonial Conference division, having slayed the Dawgs by 8, 47–39.

Why were there two very different outcomes in the two conference games the Dawgs played this past week? Paulsboro was missing a starter, but they also did not give Haddonfield the same difficulty on the floor that Sterling did. Sterling pressed Haddonfield, somewhat turning the tables on the Dawgs, who are used to doing that to other teams. As a result, in Thursday’s game, the Dawgs had more turnovers than they usually do. Because they were often behind, they put pressure on themselves, which led to them to take bad shots and miss ones they could have made, including from the foul line. I think it’s also noteworthy that in their 20-point victory, eight Dawgs scored from the field. Conversely, in their 8-point loss, only five Dawgs made field goals. It’s also possible the absence of Roddy threw the starters off their rhythm a bit as well.

This coming week, the Dawgs, now 6–3 overall and 4–1 in the Colonial, will look to rebound (and score more baskets!) in conference games against Lindenwold on Tuesday (away at 7:00 p.m.) and home versus Gloucester City, also at 7:00 p.m. Saturday, the team is on the road again in a nonleague game against Pemberton Township that starts at 5:30.

1/3/23 versus Paulsboro                                  1/5/23 versus Sterling

Quarter Scores                                                Quarter Scores

1st: Haddonfield, 16, Paulsboro, 9                 1st: Haddonfield 10, Sterling, 16

2nd: Haddonfield, 27, Paulsboro, 24              2nd: Haddonfield 18, Sterling, 18

3rd: Haddonfield, 54, Paulsboro, 35               3rd: Haddonfield 27, Sterling, 29

4th: Haddonfield 72, Paulsboro, 52                4th: Haddonfield 39, Sterling, 47

Player Scores                                                  Player Scores

Teddy Bond: 20                                              Matt Morris: 13

Patrick Ryan: 17                                            Patrick Ryan: 11

Matt Morris: 11                                              Sam Narducci: 10

Sam Narducci: 9                                           Teddy Bond: 3

Zach Langan: 9                                             Nate Rohlfing: 2

Nate Rohlfing: 2

Joe Tedeschi: 2

Jack Walters: 2