By Lauree Padgett Exclusive to Haddonfield[dot]Today
I was going to start off this last weekly wrap-up (I’ll do a short season overview next week that I’m hoping will include comments by Coach Paul Wiedeman, among others) by saying I’d never seen the Haddonfield boys basketball season end on a winning note, but then I remembered I had seen that once before: on March 17, 1973, when the team won its first state championship, upsetting Orange 76–67. Since this was in the pre-Tournament of Champions era, that last game was, indeed, a thrilling victory. In all the ensuing years—or should I cringe inwardly and type “decades”?—every game that has finished off a Dawgs’ season, even the ones that culminated in six more state titles that proceeded the inaugural one on St. Patrick’s Day, ended in defeat as the Dawgs lost in a Tournament of Champions matchup.
So, I have to tweak what is now not my lede to note that it has been 48 seasons since I last witnessed Haddonfield players walking off the court with a W and still having their season come to an end. But, the home game on Saturday, 3/6 against the Glassboro Bulldogs was the fourth game the team played in this last week of competition. So, let me back up and start with the first game on March 1 against the Red Devils of Rancocas Valley Regional High School.
The Red Devils blazed to a 4–0 lead at the outset of Monday night’s game on the Dawgs’ court before Matt Guveiyian got the offense rolling for Haddonfield with a 3, and after a Dawg steal, Justin Kasko showed nice hustle to pull down an offensive board. Matt Leming was fouled in his resulting shot attempt, and he made 1–2 from the line to tie the game at 4 all with 5:24 left in the first quarter. After few trips up and down the court with neither team able to break the tie, Leming hit his first 3 of the game to put the Dawgs up 7–4 with just over half the quarter remaining. Leming would pull down the defensive board at the other end, then with 3:19 on the clock, Kasko knocked down a 3 to make it 10–4, good buddy. (If you’re too young to get that reference, you can always Google it or ask Siri.)
Rancocas Valley got back in scoring mode with a trey to get to within 3, 10–7, with 2:01 left in the quarter, but Guveiyian swooshed in another 3 to push the Dawgs back in front by 6, 13–7 with a minute and change to go. After Haddonfield did not score in its next possession and Rancocas Valley turned over the ball, the Dawgs had one more shot to finish out the quarter. Of course, it was a 3, this time from Leming on a feed from Guveiyian 3.1 seconds ahead of the buzzer, to put the Dawgs up by 9, 16–7 going into quarter 2.
It would take more than 2 minutes for a point to go on the board in the second. This was due to a few missed shots by Haddonfield and Rancocas Valley’s difficulty in getting any shots off thanks to their opponent’s stifling defense. Finally, at the foul line with 5:44 showing on the scoreboard, Kasko got 1–2 to drop, giving his team a double-digit, 17–7 edge. That did not last long as the Red Devils finally got a shot off and into the net. At the other end Dante Del Duca hit one from behind the arc, making it 20–9 with 3:45 left in the half. The offense on both sides largely shut down for the next 3-plus minutes. The Red Devils would only get 1 more point from a foul shot, but the Dawgs only mustered 2 more points off a nice jumper by Tom Mooney a few seconds ahead of the half-time buzzer. This gave the Dawgs a 12-point, 22–10, advantage as the teams headed off the court.
As was mostly the case all season, it was quarter 3 when the Dawgs had their biggest offensive output. Thanks to Carson Wolfe, Haddonfield finally got their inside game going. Aside from the jumper by Mooney that finished off the first half, all of the Dawgs’ scoring in the first 2 quarters had come from 3’s or foul shots. Wolfe went up and in four times, including a nice cross-court maneuver that kicked off the Dawgs’ third quarter. Haddonfield did get two more baskets from behind the 3-point line from Leming as well, and he and Guveiyian also dropped in a pair of free throws. When the quarter was over, the Dawgs had double the points of the Red Devils and were in control 40–20 going into the 4th.
Mooney got hot in those last 8 minutes, knocking down a 2, a 3, and then 2 from the foul line. Matt Kouser, who as a freshman has seen quite a bit of court time, also hit a 3 and a 2, and at the end of the quarter, when Coach Wiedeman had taken all the regulars out, another freshman, Darragh Roddy, ended the Dawgs’ offense with a 3. When the final horn sounded, the Dawgs had bedeviled Rancocas Valley, beating them by 28 points, which was 1 point more than the Red Devils scored themselves. The final was Haddonfield, 55, Rancocas Valley, 27. With his four 3’s, Matt Leming led the Dawgs with 15 points. Although Leming was the only Dawg in double digits, eight players contributed to the team’s offense.
A night later, the Dawgs were at Collingswood. No matter what kind of team Collingswood has, I think longtime Haddonfield fans get an uneasy feeling when the Dawgs and Panthers meet up, especially when it’s on the Panthers’ turf. Even though the Dawgs had won their first matchup versus the Panthers by 16, I wasn’t expecting it to be that easy this go-round. And it definitely wasn’t.
The game started off well enough, with Matt Leming getting one of his trademark corner 3’s barely 15 seconds into the match. Messy passing and out-of-bounds calls resulted at both ends of the court before Collingswood got its first 2-pointer at the 4:37 mark to make it 3–2, Haddonfield. Leming pulled down an offensive board and sent the ball back up and in for 2, and it was 5–2, Dawgs. Good “D” caused a Panthers’ turnover, but the Dawgs were unable to score, and then with 3:19 left in the first, the Panthers knocked down a 3 to tie it at 5. A drive by Tom Mooney off a feed by Matthew Guveiyian pushed the Dawgs back in front 7–5 with 2:47 to go. After a missed shot by Collingswood, Carson Wolfe got a bucket in the paint also off a pass by Guveiyian to give the Dawgs a 9–5 lead. A Dawg foul sent the Panthers to the line. One shot dropped. Mooney was fouled under the Dawg basket, and he also made 1–2, so when the quarter ended 51.9 seconds (I’m all about the details) later, the Dawgs were still up by 4, 10–6.
The second quarter did not start off as well for the Dawgs, who had possession, as the Panthers notched a steal and a bucket, and with only 14 seconds gone, they were within 2, 10–8. Second verse, same as the first: 20 seconds later, the game was tied at 10. And while Collingswood’s third straight basket did not come off a steal, nevertheless, with 6:41 on the clock, the Panthers had gone ahead 12–10. Then, after another Dawg turnover, Collingswood hit a 3 to go up by 5, 15–10, at the 5:42 mark.
A pickoff by Haddonfield got the Dawgs the ball back after a bad pass temporarily gave possession to Collingswood. An offensive board by Guveiyian gave Leming a chance to nail a 3, making it a 2-point game, with the Panthers still on top 15–13 with 4:48 left in the half.
Play resumed after a timeout by Haddonfield. Unfortunately, Collingswood would get the next 4 points of the game, 2 from the foul line and one off a basket. With 2:45 remaining in the quarter and the Dawgs down by 4, Guveiyian launched a 3, and it was now a 1-point game, with the Dawgs trailing 18–19. Again, Collingswood got a basket, and the Dawgs found themselves in the hole 18–21 with 2:27 left. A scramble for the ball resulted in an out-of-bounds call against the Dawgs after a missed Dawg shot. After a few kick-ball calls (and Dy Heine nowhere to be seen), Guveiyian stole the ball, and a 3 from Leming tied the game at 21 with 1:10 left in the half. After another pickoff by Haddonfield, the Dawgs were going for the final shot, but waited a tad too long, and when the ball finally went up, it was off. So, the teams left the court with the game still tied at 21.
The second half made me glad I was not at the Collingswood gym, because I started getting very wound up, to put it mildly, from my seat in front of the computer screen. What had been somewhat annoying attempt in the first half of the game by Collingswood to slow its tempo became beyond exasperating in the second. After Haddonfield got a basket thanks to Leming after its first possession ended in a turnover, the Dawgs were back in front 23–21 with about 5:41 on the clock. A steal from Mooney and his subsequent 2 made it 25–23, Haddonfield, about 40 seconds later. When more than a minute ticked off the clock without Collingswood even attempting to make a shot, I wrote in all caps in my notepad, “SHOOT THE BALL!!!”
Before that happened, Collingswood got charged with a foul, but the Dawgs did not score, and a rebound attempt went out of bounds off the Dawgs. The Panthers didn’t eat up too much clock before attempting to score their next possession, but the shot did not go in. Leming got the board and Mooney took a shot. The contrary ball went up, rolled on the rim, and went in the wrong direction at the 2:34 mark. Collingswood went into ball hold mode for about 20 seconds and then caught the Dawgs napping, as they got 2 on a nicely set up shot with 2:14 on the clock to get back to within 2, 25–23. The Dawgs missed a chance at the foul line to get those points back, and even after getting the offensive rebound, could not get a shot to drop.
Wolfe had an aggressive steal, Collingswood got charged with its second foul of the half, a jump ball kept possession with the Dawgs, but again, nothing came of it on the scoreboard. With about a minute left, Collingswood tried something a little different—NOT—and held the ball, going for the last shot, and luckily, did not score either. So, going into the last quarter, it was still 25–23, the same score it had been at the 2:14 mark of the third quarter.
The game and the ball went back and forth for almost 2 minutes before Collingswood’s 2 tied it up at 25 apiece with 6:04 left in the game. A nice cut going into the paint by Justin Kasko gave the Dawgs back the lead 27–25 with 5:49 on the clock. At the Collingswood end of the court, the Panthers were lurking, lurking, lurking and not doing much else. When a shot was made, it did not go in the net, and Kasko and Mooney pulled down the rebound. Collingswood got charged with its fourth foul of the quarter with 4:17 to go. Guveiyian went up and in and did not score. No foul was called, but at least he stayed upright and in the game. (That comment will be expanded upon shortly.) With just under 4 minutes to play, the Panthers scored and tied the game at 27.
A Haddonfield turnover prompted Coach Wiedeman to call for a timeout with 2:30 remaining. After Collingswood inbounded the ball to resume play, Kasko picked off the ball after good overall D by he and his teammates. Haddonfield turned the tables on Collingswood and took some time off the clock by working for an open shot. Their patience paid off as Mooney drove in for a 2 off a feed from Wolfe, and with 1:37 left in regulation, the Dawgs had gone back up 29–27.
A near pickoff by the Dawgs turned into a 3 by the Panthers, who reclaimed the lead for the first time since the first quarter, even if by the slimmest of margins, 30–29, with 1:11 to go. Mooney made a good effort to put the Dawgs in front again. Even though his shot did not go in, he was fouled. He made 1–2 from the line to tie it at 30 with 56.6 seconds to go.
Haddonfield committed its third foul of the game with 41.0 on the clock; 13 seconds later, a jump ball call kept the Panthers holding onto the ball, but their coach called a timeout. I was expecting a play that would have Collingswood whittling down the clock, but instead, there were still 17.9 seconds showing when the Panthers attempted a shot that did not go in. Kasko secured a big defensive board and Wiedeman called a timeout. Haddonfield inbounded the ball, and since Collingswood still was under the limit, committed a foul to force Haddonfield to inbound the ball again with 12.6 seconds to go. The Dawgs and the ball were in motion, and when time was almost out, Guveiyian drove in under the basket. His shot did not go in, but everyone was expecting a foul call. Instead, the buzzer sounded rather than a whistle being blown. I wrote down on my pad. “No foul?? Paul [Wiedeman] is livid. Me too.” As the live stream focus cut to Wiedeman taking the refs to task, I didn’t notice how gingerly Guveiyian got up off the floor (the collision initiated by the Panther guarding him sent both players sprawling onto the hardwood). As it turned out, Guveiyian went back to the trainer, not the huddle.
When the game went into a 4-minute OT, Guveiyian was sitting with ice on his ankle and knee area, and Dante Del Duca was on the floor in his stead. Haddonfield had possession and inbounded the ball. Wiedeman called out his instructions, and with 3:33 on the clock, Kasko executed a nice reverse layup, making it 32–30, Dawgs. The Dawgs were riled up after the last play of regulation and seemed determined to make sure the game did not need a second OT. They pressed Collingswood at the other end and the Panthers lost the ball. Del Duca went up and in for 2 and the Dawgs were now leading 34–30 with 2:52 left in OT.
Kasko pulled down a defensive board but the Dawgs turned it over. This time, Kasko got the ball back to his team by taking an offensive charge with 1:47 on the clock. With 1:08 on the clock, Weideman called a timeout. Haddonfield did not score, and with 42.5 seconds left, Haddonfield was charged with its 7th foul of the half, sending Collingswood to the line for a 1-1 opportunity. The first shot did not drop in, and the Dawgs got the board, but with 20.5 seconds left, Collingswood stole it back. There was then a scramble for the loose ball, which Haddonfield won with 12.3 seconds left. Before a second even had time to tick off the scoreboard, Del Duca was fouled. He also stepped to the line with a 1+1 opportunity. His first shot swooshed in. So did his second, putting the Dawgs up by 6, 36–30.
Even though Collingswood had basically run out of time, a timeout was taken. After Haddonfield got charged with a foul, another timeout was called for with 10 seconds to go. The Panthers’ shot did not go in, not that it would have mattered. This time when the buzzer sounded, there was a winner: Haddonfield. In the 4-minute OT, the charged up Dawgs had put 6 points on the board when in the 8-minute 4th, they had only managed 5. And equally as important, they held the Panthers scoreless.
Matt Leming finished the game with 15 points. Thanks to the low score, no one else on the Haddonfield squad reached double digits. I had been getting updates about Matt Guveiyian while the game was still in action (it pays to be close friends with a player’s Nanny, aka Debbie Vermaat), so I knew he was headed for an X-ray. The good news came back that he had suffered a sprain and nothing more serious, but it still resulted in a deep bruise that kept him in the stands watching his teammates play the last two games of the season.
As if that were not enough excitement, word came Thursday afternoon (3/4) that the away Sterling game had been canceled. In fact, the frosh, JV, and varsity games had all been canceled. It turned out that the Silver Knights were shut down for the rest of the season due to COVID exposure. The rematch (Sterling had won round one 64–55) was supposed to determine the outcome of the Colonial Conference Liberty division. If Sterling had won, they would be the sole winner. Had the Dawgs come out on top, the teams would have shared the crown. Probably back in the day when snow was more likely to upend a would-be title game, rules were established that should this kind of cancelation occur without the game able to be rescheduled, the teams would still share the crown. I’m sure this upset Sterling more than Haddonfield, since the best outcome for the Dawgs would have a split, not sole possession of first place.
So, there was no game at all on Thursday. Instead, I was nearly simultaneously getting contradictory reports about the remainder of the Dawgs’ season—if there was even one left. One source was telling me the scheduled Saturday game had been canceled and the Dawgs’ season was over. However, my other source told me the Dawgs were going to now host Winslow Township at 4 on Friday afternoon (varsity only) and the game on Saturday was still at home but the opponent was going to be Glassboro not Bordentown. Source number 2 proved to be more reliable. The funniest part of all this was the two people who were providing me with conflicting information are related!
With the schedule seeming to be in constant upheaval, I decided if I wanted to make sure I saw one more home game, I’d better go to the Friday game in case the Saturday game was nixed at the last minute. The gym was even emptier than usual, as some parents were not able to get there because of the one-two punch of it not being set up until Thursday afternoon and the early start of 4 p.m. I did not know anything about the Winslow Township Eagles (who had very green unis). In the first quarter, it seemed that the teams might be fairly well-matched. After Carson Wolfe got the first point for Haddonfield from the foul line, Winslow got a bucket to go up 2–1 with just less than 2 minutes gone. And that’s how the score would stay for the next 3-plus minutes until Tom Mooney’s feed to Wolfe resulted in a bucket, putting the Dawgs—briefly—out in front 3–2 with 3:17 to go in the quarter. But a basket and a foul shot added 3 to the Eagles’ score, putting them on top 5–3 with 2:33 on the clock.
A jumper from Matt Leming tied it at 5 with 2:16 left. Justin Kasko stripped the Eagles of the ball about 12 seconds later, and after some nice ball movement under the Haddonfield basket, Wolfe scored off a twofold feed that went Kasko to Mooney to Wolfe. With 1:44 to go, the Dawgs were ahead again by 2, 7–5. But the Eagles landed a 3 with 47 seconds left to retake the lead by 1, 8–7. About 11 seconds later, the lead swung back to Haddonfield’s favor as Mooney went up and in to make it 9–8, Haddonfield, and that would be the final basket of the quarter for either side.
In the second quarter, Wolfe continued his nice driving into the lane for baskets. His first came off a Del Duca assist and put the Dawgs up by 3, 11–8, with 6:47 on the clock. A Haddonfield steal put the ball back into Wolfe’s hands, and this time, not only did he score, he got fouled. His shot from the line when it, and with 6:30 to go, the Dawgs were now up by 6, 14–8. The Dawgs got their third 2 of the quarter as Matt Kouser got into the act to push the Dawgs’ lead to 8, 16–8, with 5:11 left in the half. After a timeout, the Eagles still were having trouble finding the net, and the Dawgs went a bit cold as well thanks to a few turnovers that resulted from some passing miscues. Winslow Township got its first—and only—basket of the second quarter with less than 2 minutes remaining in the half. It was a 3 and make it 16–11, Haddonfield.
In the final 1:53 of the half, the Dawgs went on a mini run, putting 10 points on the board. Kouser got things started with a 3. After a traveling violation was called on the Eagles, Tom Mooney glided up and in for 2, and it was 21–11, Haddonfield, with 1:02 left. This time the Eagles lost the ball out of bounds and it was Kasko who drove into the lane for 2. He was fouled as well, and his free throw increased the Dawgs’ advantage to 24–11 with 48.2 seconds left. The Eagles didn’t turn the ball over their next possession, but their shot did not drop in, and Kasko secured the rebound. The Dawgs handed the ball back to the Eagles on a 5-second call, but it was still Haddonfield who got the last basket, this one by Del Duca, just ahead of the buzzer. As the teams left the court, the Dawgs were in command of the game, up by 15, 26–11.
After putting 17 on the board in the second quarter, the Dawgs upped it to 24 in the third. This was due in large part to the cluster of 3’s Haddonfield knocked down. Leming did a hat trick while Del Duca and Kouser each added one. Mooney contributed 7 on two buckets and three foul shots. So while the Eagles offense kicked in a bit, going from 3 in the 2nd to 13 in the third, the Dawgs had twice as many (and 1) on the board—50 to 24—when the third quarter came to an end.
Before Coach Wiedeman cleared the bench in the 4th, the Dawgs added 16 more points to their total. Mooney put up another 7, this time on a 3, a 2, and two foul shots. Kasko, Del Duca, and Jack Deegan each got a 2-point bucket, and Kouser got this third trey of the game. The final score was Haddonfield, 66, Winslow Township, 34. Four Dawgs hit double digits: Mooney led the way with 18; Leming and Kouser each had 11; Wolfe finished with 10 points, all coming in the first half.
About 18 hours later, the Dawgs were back on their home court for their final game of the shortened season. Their record was 11–3, and they had won 11 of their last 12 contests. Hoping to keep them from making it 12 out of their last 13 games were the Bulldogs of Glassboro. Worth noting was that Dawgs’ coach Paul Wiedeman had both his senior captains, Justin Kasko and Jack Deegan, starting the game.
For the first 8 minutes of the game, the Bulldogs were outpacing the Bulldawgs. They scored the first 5 points of the contest, starting with a 3 and the following it with a 2 at the 5:17 mark. After Justin Kasko pulled down an offensive board, Matt Leming began his 3-point shooting spree to make it 5–3, Glassboro. I say “spree” because about 30 seconds later, his second trey put the Dawgs up by a point, 6–5, with 4:14 on the clock.
The Dogs made 1-2 from the foul line to tie it at 6 with 3:44 to go in the first. Although Deegan pulled down an offensive board, the Dawgs lost the ball on a steal that resulted in a bucket for the Dogs, and with 3 and change in the quarter, Glassboro was back on top 8–6. This time Kasko pulled down an offensive rebound and then made a nice move to go up and in, tying the game again at 8 with 2:27 to go.
Kasko dove for a loose ball and got it, but the Dawgs were called for traveling. Tom (oh, heck, it’s the last game I’m writing up), Tommy Mooney got it right back on a steal. He passed it to Dante Del Duca, who had just come into the game. Dante Del Duca gave it back to Kasko, who scored, flipping the lead back to Haddonfield, 10–8, with 1:07 on the clock. The teams exchanged turnovers, then Haddonfield failed to score its next possession. A 3 by Glassboro put the Dogs in front by 1, 11–10, and Haddonfield’s shot ahead of the buzzer did not find the net.
The second quarter began with the Dawgs and the Dogs exchanging 3-pointers. Leming got his third and then Glassboro hit a bomb from way behind the arc, keeping the Dawgs behind by 1, 13–14, with a little more than a minute gone. The Dawgs got called for a moving violation and the Dogs got a shot off that did not go in. Mooney’s shots from the foul line edged Haddonfield back to a 15–14 lead with 6:30 to go in the half, but a 2 by Glassboro put the Dawgs behind the Dogs 16–15 with just under 6 to go in the half.
After a missed Dawg basket and a Dog timeout and turnover, Leming hit his fourth 3 of the half, which was the result of some nice ball movement. That made it 18–16, Haddonfield. That was followed by a nice steal by Del Duca. He was fouled en route to the basket. He made 1–2, and with 4:21 on the clock until halftime, the Dawgs were up by 3, 19–16 … but not for long. The Dogs got a field goal to cut that lead down to 1, 19–18, and then retook the lead, 20–19, off a Dawg turnover.
Haddonfield failed to score, but Mooney got the offensive board and Del Duca nailed a 3, and with 3:07 left in the half, the Dawgs had once again seesawed back in front, 22–20, with 3 and change left in the 2nd. Neither Dog nor Dawg scored for a few trips up and down the court, but thanks to a pickoff by Matt Kouser, Carson Wolfe was able to go up and in, giving the Dawgs a 4-point, 24–20, lead at the 2:04 mark. That was fleeting, as the Dogs answered with a basket to pull to within 2, 24–22 and then with 1:20 on the clock, Glassboro pivoted back on top 25–24 on a 3.
Kouser answered with a trey of his own, and with exactly 60 seconds remaining in the half, the Dawgs had regained the edge, 27–25. After Haddonfield missed two chances to score, a non-shooting foul was called on Glassboro, giving possession back to the Dawgs. Just ahead of the buzzer, Mooney let the ball fly and it sailed into the net, putting the Dawgs up 29–25 as the teams left the court.
That tight, exciting game disappeared in the third quarter, as the Dawgs put up 18 points to the Dogs’ 9. Kasko led the way with 9 points: Four came from the foul line, one from behind the arc, and one in the paint. Leming got his 5th trey of the game, Kouser got his second, and Leming also hit one from the foul line. When quarter 3 came to an end, the Dawgs had added some space between them and their opponents and were ahead by 13, 47–34.
For the first time all season, I believe, the Dawgs really went to town in the last 8 minutes. They poured 29 points into the net, 18 of them coming off 3’s. Mooney had a pair, Kouser got his third of the game, and Del Duca got his second. Leming finished his trey-fecta by hitting his 6th and also got a 2-pointer. When Mooney’s second 3 of the quarter, which was waaaay out there, made it 68–39 with less than 3 minutes remaining in the game, Wiedeman started to clear the bench, but he left his two seniors, Kasko and Deegan, on the court. Deegan got fouled with 2:35 on the clock and stepped to the line with a 1+1 change. He sent both shots into the net, making it 70–39, Dawgs.
Even the substitutions kept the scoring going. Freshman Darragh Roddy sank 1–2 from the foul line, and junior Sean Beane went in the lane for a basket, making it 73–45, Haddonfield with 1:01 left in the game. After Kasko pulled down a defensive rebound, his coach called a timeout so he and Deegan could exit the game to a standing ovation as their careers as Haddonfield basketball players came to an end. It was a shame more fans weren’t in the gym, but those who were let Kasko and Deegan know how much their Dawg days on the court had been appreciated.
The last points of the game came, like the first points did, on a 3, this time by Beane. In between Leming’s first and Beane’s, there were 13 other baskets from behind the arc. The final score of the final game was 76–45. Nine players contributed to that tally. Leming, aided by his 6 3’s, led the way with 21 points. Mooney knocked in 14, and Kasko finished with 13.
I’ll write more about this unusual and shortened season next week, but for now, I’ll close by saying after losing their first two games, the Dawgs got into a groove and ended the season 12–3. Well done, Dawgs!