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Boys’ Basketball: Surprise ending to season, but still a great one

By Lauree Padgett / Exclusive to Haddonfield[dot]Today

Boys Basketball Week 11

I have been putting this off for almost a full 7 days, but now I have to finally face the buzzer and write my last article about the 2022­–23 Dawgs’ season. I don’t think anyone who was pulling for the Red and Black last Saturday, 2/25, was expecting the Silver Knights of Sterling would slay the Dawgs to advance to the South Jersey Group 2 championship game, but that’s exactly what happened. Before the hard ending of that game, however, the Dawgs took care of two earlier-round Group 2 opponents. I’ll highlight those games, take a look at the Sterling contest, and then pick out what I thought were the game and player stats that stood out this season. I also have some commentary from Mr. South Jersey Basketball, aka Tom Betley, our favorite play-by-play announcer, Mark Hershberger, and the best coach in South Jersey, Paul Wiedeman.

NJSIAA South Jersey Group 2 Round 1:

West Deptford vs. Haddonfield, 2/21/23

The Dawgs had not had much trouble against their Colonial Conference Liberty compatriot Eagles in their two matchups in the regular season, beating them on their court 83–34 in December and then winning by a bit less at home earlier in February, 69–44. Not wanting to lose again by 25 points or more, the Eagles tried a different tactic for this game: stall ball. And it worked —for a while. After the Dawgs failed to score on their first possession, the Eagles got the ball with 7:29 on the clock. And at the 5:23 mark, when Patrick Ryan stole the ball, West Deptford had not yet attempted a shot.

Ryan got the Dawgs’ first basket on a feed from Zach Langan with 5:14 on the clock. About 30 seconds later, West Deptford went to the foul line and scored 2, and with 4:16 left in the first, the game was tied 2–2. Ryan put the Dawgs back up by 2, 4–2, and rather quickly, West Deptford shot the ball and it went in, so with 3:47 to go, the game was once again knotted, this time at 4.

Then it was back to stall ball. Finally, after West Deptford picked up its second foul of the quarter, Ryan took a pass from Teddy Bond and scored with 0:53 to go. Just ahead of the buzzer, after calling timeout with 13:6 on the clock, the Eagles landed another basket, and going into the next 8 minutes, each team had a whopping 6 points on the board, with Haddonfield’s three baskets all coming at the hands of Ryan.

The Dawgs managed to pick up the pace in the second quarter, putting 13 on the board. Narducci scored 8, starting with a jumper to get the offense going. After Ryan completed a 3-point play with a field goal and foul shot to put the Dawgs up 11–6, West Deptford got 2 from the foul line. A Bond-to-Ryan pass resulted in another bucket by Ryan, and then Narducci followed with back-to-back 3’s. His second jacked the Dawgs’ up to a double-digit, 19–8, lead with 3:51 to go until the half. The last 4 points of the half were scored by the Eagles off the foul line, and when the teams headed to the locker rooms, it was 19–11, Haddonfield.

The Eagles had possession to start the third and quickly (for them!) got a basket. Ryan answered at the other end with a 2, keeping it an 8-point game, at 21–13, with not even 30 seconds having gone off the clock. Langan got his first basket of the game to push the lead back to double digits, 23–13, with 6:05 on the clock, but West Deptford got a 3 its next possession to cut that edge down to 7, 23–16, with 5:39 to go. Ryan got 2 and was fouled, but his shot from the line didn’t drop. West Deptford picked up a foul, which turned into a 2 from Narducci, who was also fouled. His foul shot made it 28–16 at the 4:45 mark.

The Eagles got those 3 back in the same manner—a bucket and a foul shot—to get to within 9 once more, 28–19, with 3:43 on the clock. Langan did a nice reverse for 2, and a few plays later, Narducci stole the ball and drove in the lane for 2, putting the Dawgs ahead by 13, 32–19, with 3:01 remaining in the quarter. The Eagles picked up 2 more points from the foul line, and then Ryan finished off the Dawgs’ scoring in the quarter, first going up and in off an inbounds pass from Daire Roddy, and then getting another basket off a feed from Bond. West Deptford again got the ball in the net ahead of the basket, but the Eagles were still trailing by 13, 36–23, as the quarter ended.

The Dawgs would outscore the Eagles by 5 in the last 8 minutes. Narducci got another 3 and Ryan got his 10th and 11th baskets of the game, adding 2 more from the foul line. The final score was 47–29, so at least West Deptford succeeded in losing by less than 20 points. Ryan and Narducci were the offensive sparks of the game for Haddonfield, finishing with 25 and 16, respectively.

Quarter Scores:

1st Quarter: Haddonfield, 6, West Deptford, 6

2nd Quarter: Haddonfield, 19, West Deptford, 11

3rd Quarter: Haddonfield, 36, West Deptford, 23

4th Quarter: Haddonfield, 47, West Deptford, 29

Player Scores:

Patrick Ryan: 25

Sam Narducci: 16

Zach Langan: 4

Joe Tedeschi: 2

NJSIAA South Jersey Group 2 Quarterfinal :

BCIT (aka Medford Tech) at Haddonfield, 2/23/23

While you might have been able to slip down to the concession stand during Tuesday’s first-round game to get a hotdog and pretzel without missing any action, the beginning of Thursday’s game against the Jaguars nearly gave me whiplash, as both teams were racing up and down the court as if you would get extra points the faster you got the ball in the bucket.

The Dawgs had scored two baskets before 10 seconds had ticked off the clock, one by Teddy Bond off a feed from Zach Langan, and one off an offensive rebound by Patrick Ryan after a steal by Daire Roddy. Medford Tech got a basket at the 6:24 mark, but a 3 by Bond made it 7–2, Haddonfield with 5:51 on the clock. After the Jags did not score, Ryan got fouled in the act of shooting and made 1–2 from the line.

Medford Tech got the next field goal with 3:51 left in the quarter to make it 8–4, Haddonfield. Ryan scored off an assist by Bond; a few plays later, Medford Tech scored off a pickoff, and then Bond got a 2 to make it 12–4, Dawgs, with 2:38 on the clock. About a minute later, after neither team had gotten a basket under their net, Ryan got a slam, elevating up in the air before dropping the ball in, which got a roar of approval from the Dawg fans. That made it 14–6, and with about 20 seconds to go, Bond finished the scoring with a 3, giving the Dawgs an 11-point, 17–6, lead to start the second quarter.

The Jags got more competitive in the next 8 minutes, scoring 12 to the Dawgs’ 14. Ryan was a beast under the basket all game long, and in the 2nd, he made five field goals off feeds from his teammates and offensive boards. In his second basket of the second quarter, I noted that he had to fight for room underneath to go up and in. This was an action he repeated all night long. Nate Rohlfing was responsible for Haddonfield’s other 2 baskets of the quarter and when the halftime buzzer sounded, the Dawgs were up by 13, 31–18.

In quarter number three, the Jags and the Dawgs put 14 points on the board apiece. The Dawgs got three baskets from Ryan, a pair from Bond, and two foul shots each by Sam Narducci and Zach Langan. All those 14 points did for Medford Tech, however, was keep them trailing by 13, 45–32, going into the final 8 minutes of the contest.

In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t a good sign that in the last 8 minutes, Medford Tech actually outscored the Dawgs by 2, who nonetheless won by 11, 65–54. But no one was thinking about that while watching the amazing end Patrick Ryan’s tremendous outing. In those 8 minutes, he made six field goals, and on two of them, followed the basket with a foul shot. He finished with 37 points: 17 came from field goals and 3 from the foul line. It’s not the most points scored in a game by a Haddonfield player (Pete Smith still holds that record with 44), but it was quite impressive to say the least. He also pulled down 11 rebounds. Teddy Bond finished with 16 points.

Quarter Scores:

1st Quarter: Haddonfield, 17, Medford Tech, 6

2nd Quarter: Haddonfield, 31, Medford Tech, 18

3rd Quarter: Haddonfield, 45, Medford Tech, 32

4th Quarter: Haddonfield, 65, Medford Tech, 54

Player Scores:

Patrick Ryan: 37

Teddy Bond: 16

Nate Rohlfing: 6

Sam Narducci: 4

Zack Langan: 2

NJSIAA South Jersey Group 2 Semifinal:

Sterling at Haddonfield, 2/25/23

As I was sitting in the stands before this game started, I texted Mark Hershberger with a “Whaddya think?” He replied, “If they key on Ryan [alluding to Patrick Ryan’s last two games, when he’d scored 25 and then 39], Teddy [Bond] and Sam [Narducci] need to light it up.” And when the Dawgs’ first basket of the game was a 3 by Narducci, Hershberger was looking pretty smart.

However, Sterling got the next four baskets on a bad combination of Haddonfield turnovers and missed shots, and with 1:41 to go in the quarter, the Silver Knights were up by 6, 9–3. The Dawgs’ only other basket of the quarter was, in fact, a 3, by Daire Roddy, and when the first quarter buzzer sounded, the Dawgs were trailing by 3, 6–9.

The next quarter went much better for the Dawgs, even though the Knights got the first basket to push their lead back to 5, 11–6. Another 3 by Narducci and a bucket in the paint by Nate Rohlfing tied it at 11 with 5:41 on the clock. After a near pickoff by Matt Morris and a blocked shot by Rohlfing that Morris retrieved, Ryan was fouled going in for a basket. His first shot dropped, to inch the Dawgs back in front 12–11, with about 5 minutes left in the half. The second shot did not go in, but Roddy got the rebound. Morris’ 3 went in and out (a later 3 attempt went so far in the net, I’m not sure how it didn’t keep going), but down the other end, Haddonfield got two more blocked shots. Working off that tough D, Narducci swooshed in another 3 to give the Dawgs a 4-point, 15–11, advantage with just under 3 to go

After a timeout, Sterling came back to get a 3 and after the Dawgs missed a very easy basket, Sterling got fouled and made both shots, giving them back the lead, 16–15, at the 3:18 mark. That edge didn’t last long thanks to Narducci’s third trey of the quarter, which was followed by another basket in the paint by Rohlfing off a feed from Morris. Zach Langan pulled down the rebound off a missed shot by Sterling, and Morris hit a jumper after the Dawgs worked hard to give the Dawgs two extra chances to score. With 1:30 and change to go, the Dawgs were looking to be in a pretty good rhythm and had a 6-point, 22–16, advantage.

Sterling had an answer, though, hitting a 3 in return, but Roddy’s field goal made it 24–19, Haddonfield with 49 seconds remaining in the half. Sterling got another basket to make it 24–21 with about 40 seconds to go. That would have been more than enough time for Haddonfield to set a play in motion and score, but instead, they got a traveling call. Sterling didn’t score, Roddy got another rebound, but with 15 seconds left, Haddonfield picked up an offensive foul, giving possession back to Sterling with 3.3 on the clock. Sterling’s last attempt did not go in, so as the half ended, the Dawgs were up by 3, 24–21.

Quarter 3 was a pretty frustrating one all the way around. It started out with Ryan stealing the ball from the Knights, who had inbounded. However, the steal did not result in a basket for the Dawgs. Sterling did not score, but the Dawgs turned the ball over. The Knights did score their next possession and also earned a trip to the foul line, where that shot also went in. So, with 6:29 on the clock, the game was tied at 24.

The two teams swapped 2-point plays: Haddonfield went back up by 2 on a basket by Rohlfing, but Sterling tied it again with 2 foul shots. Haddonfield had another turnover, but so did Sterling. Then neither team scored. Bond’s 3 broke the 2-minute-plus scoring drought by both sides, putting the Dawgs back on top 29–26 with 4:11 left in the quarter. The Knights got two more field goals and moved back ahead by 1, 30–29, with 2:31 to go. Although that would be Sterling’s last 2 points of the quarter, Haddonfield could not take advantage, so going into the final quarter, they were still down by 1.

Sterling once again had possession to start a quarter. Rohlfing got another blocked shot, but the ball went out of bounds off Haddonfield, giving Sterling the ball again. This time, they made a really easy layup to increase their lead to 3, 32–29, with 7:10 on the clock. Bond picked a great time for his second 3 to bring the match even at 32 with 6:36 left in the game.

The Silver Knights went back up by 2 at the other end, and after a missed shot by Haddonfield, Narducci showed great hustle to get the ball back. Sterling committed a foul with 5:26 to go, but a bad inbounds pass gave them back the ball. Their next shot did not go in, but they got a trip to the foul line, and made 1–2, giving the Knights a 3-point, 32–35, lead at the 5:21 mark.

Rohlfing grabbed the rebound after that second shot did not go in and Ryan’s field goal made it 34–35. Sterling went on an 8-point run after Ryan’s basket. The Dawgs weren’t just missing baskets, they were losing the ball and committing fouls. When that 8-0 run was over, Sterling was in apparent control of the game, up by 9, 43–34 with 3:23 remaining.

Haddonfield wasn’t going to just give up. Their players don’t know what that means. Bond got a point back from the foul line, and after an iffy call that looked like a foul on Sterling but went against the Dawgs, Sterling at least did not score. Narducci did, though, and with 1:42 left, the Dawgs were now down by 6, 37–43. Haddonfield picked up its 7th foul of the half, which meant Sterling headed to the line for a 1+1 but missed the front end. Narducci scored again, and now the Dawgs were back to within 4, 39–43, with 1:13 left.

About 14 seconds later, after a few more head-scratching calls by the three-ref team, Sterling was back on the foul line again. And again, the first shot did not drop. Bond got the ball with 29.6 left and the Dawgs still down by 4, 39–43. The Dawgs’ shot did not go in, Sterling was fouled and … you got it: They missed the first shot of a 1+1 for the third time in a row. Off the Haddonfield rebound Roddy drove in and scored, making it a 2-point, 41–43, game with 6.6 seconds to go.

Haddonfield called a full (60-second) timeout. That meant Sterling had to inbound the ball and good defense by Haddonfield made them call timeout before they were charged with a 5-second violation. (The inbounding team has 5 seconds to get the ball over the line onto the court or else they lose possession.) So, when Sterling tried again to inbound the ball, there was still 6.6 left on the clock. Again, the Sterling player was struggling to find an open man on the court. When he finally did, it seemed like that more than 5 seconds had passed (I honestly don’t know how refs time inbound plays), but instead of Haddonfield getting the ball under its own basket with a chance to tie or go ahead, the refs called a foul on Haddonfield. (I went back to this part of the stream of the game and used the stopwatch feature on my phone. I did it twice—I thought if I kept doing it, I would just go crazy. The first time, I got 4.9 seconds. The second time, I got 5.1 seconds …)

Fourth time at the line for Sterling was the charm, and this time the first shot, but not the second, went in. Now the Dawgs were down by 3 with 5.3 seconds left in their season. The Dawg coaches called another full timeout to set up what was going to have to be a 3-point play. Before the Dawgs could attempt a shot, the Silver Knights intercepted the ball, got fouled once more, and once more made 1–2. With 2.9 seconds on the clock and down by 4, the Dawgs had run out of time. When the buzzer sounded, the Sterling players, coaches, and fans were the ones celebrating. And I have to admit, I did not see the ending of this game coming …

Quarter Scores:

1st Quarter: Haddonfield, 6, Sterling, 9

2nd Quarter: Haddonfield, 24,  Sterling, 21

3rd Quarter: Haddonfield, 29, Sterling, 30

4th Quarter: Haddonfield, 41, Sterling, 45

Player Scores:

Sam Narducci: 16

Teddy Bond: 7

Daire Roddy: 7

Nate Rohlfing: 6

Patrick Ryan: 3

Matt Morris: 2

Final Game Thoughts

When I consulted with Tom Betley and Mark Hershberger about why the game didn’t go Haddonfield’s way, both had similar thoughts. Betley noted that “turnovers were the biggest part of the story.” He added that eight of Haddonfield’s turnovers resulted in baskets for Sterling. Yet even though the Dawgs forced three straight turnovers in one stretch, they got only 1 point—off a foul shot.

Hershberger saw it this way: “Sterling kept us from doing what we’ve been doing most of the year, which is start fast, get a 10- to 12-point lead on a good team, then play tough defense and hold that lead.” He felt that we just could not get a real run going in the second half: “Seemed like every opportunity we had ended in missed layups or not protecting the ball.”

I also thought that problem as the game got into the final minutes was the Dawgs’ hesitancy to shoot the ball. When you’re ahead, the clock is your friend. But when you’re down by more than one possession, there needs to be a combination of not making bad shot choices but also not wasting too many seconds. The Dawgs didn’t seem able to find that balance when the game was on the line.

Season Highlights

I’m going to close out with the words Dawg coach Paul Wiedeman shared with me about the season, interspersing, in some cases, specific examples to go along with his commentary:

“Even though we were disappointed with how the season concluded, there were many positives to take away this year. We won the Colonial Conference Liberty division outright with a 9–1 record.”

            • The Dawgs were 14–1 overall, losing only once (to Sterling) between Liberty and Patriot league play.

“We finished with an overall record of 25 wins and six defeats. The 25 wins were second most in all of South Jersey. We defeated the SJ Group 1 champion, Woodbury …”

            • The final score was 47–42

“as well as the SJ Group 3 sectional champion Moorestown.”

            • Moorestown was ranked #20 in the state going into this game (and weren’t after it), which the Dawgs won 37–31.

“On the defensive side of the ball, we gave up the fewest points per game in all of South Jersey, only allowing 37.5 points per game.

            • In 16 of those 25 wins, the Dawgs held their opponents to less than 40 points. In eight of them, they were held to less than 30. That was due to what Teddy Bond and Daire Roddy christened “Haddonfield Havoc.”

“This was one of the most selfless, connected teams in my 24 years of coaching at Haddonfield. They were a pleasure to coach in games and in practice. They really enjoyed playing for one another.”

            • I don’t have stats to back this up, but I would guess that at least one-third of the points scored by Haddonfield per game were off feeds. This wasn’t a team where players hogged the ball. They thrived on setting their teammates up to put the ball in the basket. But I do have a quote from Teddy Bond after he tied the boys’ record for 3’s in one game (10) that I think is worth repeating: “I was nervous toward the end when I started to get close, but thanks to my teammates, I was able to tie it. It was a surreal feeling being able to do something special with that group of guys. If it wasn’t for my teammates, coaches, parents, and everyone involved, I don’t think I would have been able to do it. It’s not my record, it’s our record.” If that’s not the definition of “selfless,” I don’t know what is.

“We look forward to big things next year as we return four starters and our first two substitutes off the bench. We will miss our only senior on the team, Ted Bond. He provided leadership, skill, and great passion for playing basketball. Teddy will be missed.

“I want to thank all the players, coaches, parents, booster club, managers, administration, and the community for making 2022–2023 a successful season.”

And we all know how lucky the players and the school and its fans have been with Paul Wiedeman at the helm for 24 seasons. I, for one, can’t wait to see what happens with season 25.

See everybody then!