Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to footer

Schools

HMHS Boys Basketball: Onward!

Camden County Tournament Rounds 3 and 4

To mix my sports metaphors again, playing in the third and fourth rounds of the Camden County tournament resulted in a split decision for the Haddonfield boys basketball team last week. Both games, one versus Cherry Hill West, the other a rematch against Camden Catholic, were close, competitive matches, with the victor only pulling away in the final minutes of each contest. The upside was that two players whose statuses had been in question for the Dawgs, seniors Sam Narducci and Nate Rohlfing, contributed significant minutes out of a combined eight quarters of action. The downside was that the intense schedule of three, and sometimes four, games per week with starters not always in the lineup or able to play full throttle, seemed to catch up with the team in their second bout versus the  Irish.

Cherry Hill West vs. Haddonfield: February 12, 2024, at Eastern Regional High School

After taking care of the Winslow Eagles from the Patriot division of the Olympic conference rather easily with a 67–31 win in round one of the Camden County Tournament the previous week, the Dawgs would go up against another Patriot team, the Lions of Cherry Hill West. The Lions would give the Dawgs one of their toughest battles of the season from end to end.

Off the tip-off, the Lions got the basket but did not score. Patrick Ryan pulled down the defensive board, and Dawgs would get their first bucket off a feed from Phil McFillin to Nate Rohlfing that took its sweet time rolling off the rim into the basket. It took the Lions three tries (and two offensive boards) to tie it at 2 all with 6:48 on the clock. Neither team would score for almost 2 minutes until McFillin dropped in a 3 to make it 5–2, Dawgs, at the 4:52 mark. The Lions answered with a 3 to even it at 5 all and would go ahead by 2 after taking advantage of a turnover by Haddonfield.

Daire Roddy’s drive in the paint evened the score again, and after Ryan helped corral a loose ball, McFillin went up and in to put the Dawgs in front by 2, 9–7, with 2:44 left in the first. Another mini scoring draught ensued, and this time Cherry Hill West would break it with a 3 to retake the lead by 1, 10–9, with 1:27 to go. A Rohlfing-to-Narducci pass set Narducci up for a 3. This seemed a positive sign that Narducci was at close to full power after a reinjured ankle had kept him on the bench for the Dawgs’ previous three games. Now it was 12–10, Dawgs, with :49 on the clock. The Lions made 1–2 from the line, but Rohlfing’s 2 would finish out the quarter’s scoring and put the Dawgs ahead by 3, 14–11 going into the second.  

Haddonfield inbounded but failed to score, and at the other end, the Lions hit a 3 to bring the game to yet another tie, 14 all, with about 30 seconds having ticked off the clock. After a shooting attempt that left Roddy on the floor (with no foul called), Rohlfing made a huge block—Rohlfing, who had been averaging about 2.1 blocks per game would put on a defensive display and end up with 11 total—but a play later, a Haddonfield foul sent Cherry Hill West to the line, making 1–2. A jumper by Narducci switched the l-point lead back to the Dawgs’ favor. A block by Rohlfing, a defensive board by Ryan, and then an offensive board by Matt Morris set up a Mike Douglas-to-Ryan score, making it 18–15, Dawgs, with just under 6 minutes until the half.

The Lions responded with a 2, keeping it a 1-point game. The Dawgs had two scoring attempts that did not go in, Ryan stole the ball, but the Dawgs again could not get the ball in the net. Good “D” by the Dawgs ended with a Rohlfing block and saw the ball go out of bounds off the Lions. Still, the Dawgs’ shots were not dropping, but a pickoff by Narducci kept the Lions from going ahead. Finally, Douglas drove into the paint, scored, and was fouled in the process. His foul shot went in, and with 4:17 on the clock, the Dawgs were up by 4, 21–17.

More pressure defense by the Dawgs produced a backcourt violation by the Lions, but a bad pass gave the Lions back the ball. Rohlfing blocked a shot, the Lions got called for a foul, and the Dawgs were moving the ball, looking for an opening. From waaaay out, Narducci found it and nailed a 3, giving the Dawgs’ a 7-point, 24–17, lead with 2:49 to go until the half. After Douglas blocked a shot, Cherry Hill West called a timeout. The Lions would get a trip to the foul line after Rohlfing was assessed a foul from what looked like a clean block and would hit 1–2, making it a 6-point, 24–18, game with about 2:30 left on the clock.

The Dawgs lost the ball again on bad passing—a portend of what was to come two days later with more deleterious overall results—Douglas picked up his second block, but the ball went out of bounds off Haddonfield. Rohlfing’s defense led to a rebound by Douglas and somehow even though he was way off-balance, Narducci got the ball to go in the net, giving the Dawgs’ their biggest lead, 8 points, with about 90 seconds until the half.

A foul sent the Lions to line yet again, but this time, both shots went in, making it 26–20, Haddonfield. At the other end, Zack Langan went down but no foul was called (this would also be part of the story in Haddonfield’s game against Camden Catholic). When the Dawgs got the ball back with 16.8 on the clock, the plan seemed to be to hold the ball until the last shot, but a misfired pass enabled Cherry Hill West to get the last basket of the half, and when the teams left the court, the Dawgs were only up by 4, 26–22.

Cherry Hill West had the inbounds to start the second half and wasted no time in scoring, but just as quickly, the Dawgs scored on a Roddy-to-Rohlfing setup. However, the Lions would get back to within 2, 28–26 at the 7:26 mark. A jumper by Roddy pushed the lead back to 4, 30–26, but a 3 by the Lions at the other end tightened it to 30–29, Dawgs, with 5:42 on the clock A hard drive in the lane by Rohlfing gave the Dawgs some breathing room, and his blocked shot gave the Dawgs back the ball, which McFillin sailed into the net behind the 3-point arc, making it 35–29 with 4:29 to go in the third.

Back-to-back baskets by the Lions, with the second basket including a made shot from the line, deflated the cushion down to 1 point, 35–34. After the Dawgs couldn’t connect ball to net, the Lions had the chance to go ahead, but a block by Rohlfing prevented that. The Lions picked the ball off, but also did not score. At the Dawgs’ end, Narducci found a wide open McFillin, who hit a 3 and was fouled. Although his foul shot did not go in, it still meant that the Dawgs were up by 4, 38–34, with 3:02 on the clock.

The Lions were not going away, however, and after both teams did not score for a few possessions, made 2 from the foul line to get back to within 2, 38–36, with 1:29 to go in the quarter. The Dawgs turned the ball over, but the Lions also did not score. This time, the Dawgs made a shot but it did not go in. With 8.1 on the clock Cherry Hill West was called for an offensive foul, giving the Dawgs the last possession of the quarter, but their shot did not go in. So, with 8 minutes left in the game, the Dawgs were only up by 2.

Haddonfield inbounded the ball to start the fourth, but did not come away with a basket. Cherry Hill West was also unsuccessful. Douglas, who has shown a lot of poise when he comes into games, got a 2 on a jumper, and after Rohlfing blocked another shot and secured the rebound, scored at the other end. In a blink, the Dawgs got the ball back, and Rohlfing scored again. With 6:26 left in the game, the Dawgs had gone back up by 6, 42–36.

That lead went back down to 4 on a basket by the Lions. Douglas got fouled and made his first but not second shot, so with 5:56 remaining, the Dawgs were ahead by 5, 43–38. The Dawgs didn’t score, the Lions did, being fouled in the process. The foul shot did not go in, but the Lions got the rebound and the basket, and suddenly, it was only a 1-point Dawg advantage, 43–42, with 5:26 on the clock. Rohlfing got fouled, missed the first shot, but made the second. At the other end, the Dawgs fouled off a 3-point attempt, which meant the Lions had three chances at the line. Although the first shot missed, the second two went in, and with 4:55 left in the game, it was knotted at 44.

A nice setup in which Rohlfing passed the ball to Ryan broke the tie, and with the Dawgs up a basket, 46–44, Haddonfield called a timeout. A non-shooting foul by Haddonfield gave Cherry Hill West another scoring opportunity, but Rohlfing took care of that with a block, and down at the Dawgs’ basket, Ryan fed Narducci the ball, and he knocked down a 3. With 3:03 left in the game, the Dawgs had gotten back to a 5-point, 49–44, advantage. The Lions got 2 of those points back their next possession, and with 2:25 to go and a 3-point lead, Haddonfield called another timeout.

Rohlfing got another feed from Ryan, missed the shot, but got his own rebound and scored, making it 51–46, Haddonfield. Narducci grabbed a defensive board under the Lion basket, and then set McFillin up for a 3, which gave the Dawgs an 8-point, 54–46 lead with only 1:31 left in the game. Cherry Hill West got 2 from the foul line, cutting that down to 54–48, but Haddonfield got the ball to Narducci, who was wide open under the Dawgs basket to make it an 8–point lead again, 56–48, with 1:02 on the clock. The last point for either team would come from the line after Morris was fouled and made 1–2. Narducci would get the last rebound of the game and bounce down the clock. When it hit 0:00, the Dawgs had prevailed 57–48, and Dawg fans heaved a collective sigh of relief. Sam Narducci led the Dawgs with 15, and McFillin added 14. In addition to his 11 blocks, Rohlfing scored 13.

Quarter scores:

1st: Haddonfield 14, Cherry Hill West 11

2nd: Haddonfield 12, Cherry Hill West 11

Halftime: Haddonfield 26, Cherry Hill West 22

3rd: Haddonfield 12, Cherry Hill West 14

4th: Haddonfield 19, Cherry Hill West 12

Player scores:

Sam Narducci 15

Phil McFillin 14

Nate Rohlfing 13

Mike Douglas 6

Patrick Ryan 4

Daire Roddy 4

Matt Morris 1

Record-Breaking Season for DePersia

I had to share this amazing stat with Dawg fans. This past Saturday, the men’s basketball game between the Le Moyne University Dolphins and the Stonehill Skyhawks was televised on the YES network, which is part of my cable sports package. I was quite excited to watch these two Division 1 teams from the NEC (Northeast Conference) because it meant I could root for my favorite Dolphin, Mike DePersia, who was a huge part of Haddonfield’s back-to-back state championships in 2018 and 2019. (In case you were wondering, because COVID-19 hit during Mike’s freshman year at IUPUI, he had 2 years of eligibility remaining when he enrolled at grad school at Le Moyne in 2022, and he was able to keep playing hoops.) Throughout the broadcast, the announcers were talking about Mike’s ball-handling skills and how he was able to take care of the basketball while setting up his teammates to score.. During one such rave, they said Mike was “shattering” the NEC’s all-time assist-to-turnover ratio. In fact, as they explained, no one in the history of the conference had come close to what he has been averaging this season: a 3.65 ratio. That means as of that game, he had only committed 23 turnovers, which translates into about one per game, while dishing out 73 assists. The previous record was a 2.95 assist-to-turnover ratio. Whoop, whoop, Mikey!!

Camden Catholic vs. Haddonfield: February 14, 2024, at Camden Eastside

Haddonfield’s fourth-round opponent in the Camden County Tournament would be a familiar one from early on in the season: Camden Catholic The two teams had met in the Dawgs’ second game of the season back on December 16 as part of the Jimmy V Classic at Cherokee High School. The Dawgs had led after every quarter and held off the Irish to win by 6, 48–42. Dawg fans were hoping for a similar outcome.

And at the outset, that prospect was looking promising. The Dawgs rattled off the first 6 points of the game. Daire Roddy got the offense going, then Nate Rohlfing got the next two baskets, the first off an offensive rebound and the second off a feed by Roddy. With about 90 seconds gone, the Dawgs were up 6–0. Camden Catholic’s first point came from the foul line, and a few plays later, Roddy added a pair from the line, making it 8–1, Haddonfield with 3:19 left in the game.

Before Dawg fans could start feeling too cocky, the Irish hit a 3 to make it 8–4, but after a timeout, Phil McFillin hit the first of his treys and put the Dawgs back up by 7, 11–4 with 2:07 on the clock. The Irish got 2 back before Narducci’s jumper returned the Dawgs’ advantage to 7 points, 13–6, with 1:33 to go. The Dawgs had a few more chances to score in the remaining 90 seconds of the quarter, but sloppy play, which would plague them the whole game, kept them at 13 and enabled the Irish to get an easy bucket right ahead of the buzzer.

Haddonfield inbounded to start the second quarter up by 5, 13–8. They did not score, but a foul by Camden Catholic gave the Dawgs back the ball. This time, Rohlfing was fouled as he went up and in, and his shot from the line gave the Dawgs an 8-point, 16–8, advantage with less than a minute off the clock. Unfortunately, the Dawgs would only get 2 more points, again from Rohlfing on the foul line, the rest of the quarter. His shots with 2:31 remaining in the half temporarily put the Dawgs back in front 18–17. The Irish regained the lead a few possessions later from a 3, with 1:44 on the clock. Neither team could score after that, and when the halftime horn sounded, the Dawgs were trailing by 2, 18–20.

Certainly a 2-point deficit did not seem insurmountable as the third period began. When McFillin got the first basket of the second half to tie the game at 20, I think the Dawg fans who had made the 4 p.m. game at Camden Eastside (formerly Woodrow Wilson) thought, “OK, here we go.” But Camden Catholic would score the next two baskets to push their lead to 4, 24–20, at the 5:35 mark. A Ryan-to-Narducci pass made it a 2-point game with 4:55 left in the quarter. The Dawgs lost the ball on a travel, but after holding the Irish scoreless their next possession, failed to score again. An offensive board gave Camden Catholic another chance to score and they knocked down a 3 to go up by 5, their biggest lead of the game, 27–22, with 3:05 on the clock. Mike Douglas drove in the paint for a much-needed Dawg basket with 59 seconds left in the quarter. Camden Catholic then got fouled with 49 seconds to go. The two shots from the line were good, putting the Irish up by 5 once more, 29–24, which is how the quarter ended.

Douglas got the Dawgs’ first bucket of the 4th, but Camden Catholic answered with a 2 to keep their lead at 5, 31–26. Matt Morris made it 28–31 with 6:52 on the clock. The Irish would score the next 4 points, two from the line and a 2 from the field, and at the 5:55 mark, the Dawgs were behind by 7, 28–35. The two teams traded buckets twice, with Douglas and Narducci scoring for the Dawgs, but the second score by Camden Catholic earned them a trip to the line. That made foul shot put the Irish up by 8, 40–32, with 4:23 to go in the game.

Although they were playing hard, the Dawgs just weren’t able to get the ball in the basket. The effort was there, but fatigue was taking its toll, especially on the offensive end. Sure shooters were missing the mark. Narducci did get a ball to drop with 4:02 left, getting the Dawgs to within 6, 34–40, but the Irish got a point back from the line their next possession. Narducci attempted to score again but was knocked to the ground. When no foul was called, I joined the Dawg faithful in booing the fact that all three refs failed to see that Narducci didn’t fall down on his own. This might be a good time to note that many Dawgs fans were gripping rather loudly throughout the game about the fact that the three-ref team was calling fouls left, right, and center on the Dawgs but not making the same type of calls against the Irish. I would say they had some cause for complaint, but in the end, the Dawgs were hurt more by their own inability to put the ball in the net than they were by foul calls.

Of course, to add insult to (hopefully not) injury, after the no call on Narducci, the Irish scored and got a trip to the foul line, giving them a 3-point play that also gave Camden Catholic its first double-digit lead, 44–34, with 2:19 remaining in the game. A Dawg turnover on a travel call led to another basket by the Irish, and with less than 2 minutes to go, the Dawgs were now down by 12, 34–46. A 3 by McFillin got the Dawg fans cheering, and after 2 by Camden Catholic, McFillin launched another 3. (He would be the only Dawg to score behind the arc this game, making four treys.) That 3 got the Dawgs to within 8, but there were only 50 seconds left on the clock. After the teams went 1–2 from the line (Narducci got the basket for Haddonfield), McFillin hit his third 3 in about 70 seconds. The Dawgs were now down 5, 44–49, but time was not on their side. The scoring ending with Camden Catholic making 2 from the line. When the buzzer sounded, the Dawgs had been defeated for only the second time in 27 games, losing by 7, 44–51.

Quarter scores:

1st: Haddonfield 13, Camden Catholic 8

2nd: Haddonfield 5, Camden Catholic 12

Halftime: Haddonfield 18, Camden Catholic 20

3rd: Haddonfield 6, Camden Catholic 9

4th: Haddonfield 20, Camden Catholic 22

Final: Haddonfield 44, Camden Catholic 51

Player scores:

Phil McFillin 14

Sam Narducci 9

Nate Rohlfing

Mike Douglas 6

Daire Roddy 4

Matt Morris 2

Patrick Ryan 2

NJISAA Tournament

The Dawgs, seeded fourth behind Middle Township, Camden, and Cinnaminson in that order, will take to the court this Wednesday night in a 5 p.m. home game that starts the South Jersey Group 2 playoffs. Their opponent will be Manchester Township, seeded 13, with an overall record of 10–15. Those in the know, however, say the Hawks will be a tougher opponent than their record indicates. Hopefully, with 7 days between games, the Dawgs will have had time to recuperate from nagging injuries and full up their tank again. After the boys game, stay on to root for the Lady Dawgs, who will be playing a Colonial Conference opponent, the Gloucester City Lions, at 7 p.m.

Let’s go DAWGS!            

HMHS Boys Basketball: Senior Dawgs: The Elite 8

When trying to come up with a term to describe the senior Dawgs—Mike Feinstein, Zach Langan, Phil McFillin, Matt Morris, Sam Narducci, Daire Roddy, Nate Rohlfing, and Patrick Ryan—I wanted something to reflect both their number and their value. It took some time and some pondering, but finally “the Elite Eight” came into my head. This is what the teams from the NCAA basketball tournament are called that have made it through the earlier rounds to get to the quarter-finals. These teams are the cream of the crop. For many reasons, several which I’ll mention, this nomenclature seemed to fit.

I had the fun job of interviewing these eight young men during halftime of the JV’s game versus Paulsboro on 2/6. When I reached out to their coach Paul Wiedeman about the prospect, he quickly replied that he would set it up for us to meet in the cafeteria. As I saw the boys, who had been sitting up in the bleachers behind the Haddonfield bench, start to head down and out, I did the same. We met up a few minutes later and gathered around a big round table. In years’ past, I had the chance to get to interact with the players a bit, greeting and congratulating them on the court after games, so by the end of a season,  we knew each other a little. COVID, as it did for many things, changed all that, and those on-court meetups stopped. That meant this was literally the first time I had talked to any of them. It seemed fair that if they were going to share some info about themselves and each other, I should give them a bit of my backstory. I told them that I’d been coming to games since I was about 6 and that I had started covering the games, first for local town paper, The Haddon Gazette, which morphed into The Suburban, By the time the name changed again (to what I can’t recall),  I was back to just being a fan in the stands. During the mid-2000’s, while Haddonfield was winning back-to-back-to-back Group 2 state titles, David Hunter, publisher of What’s on in Haddonfield, had me write up some NJISAA tournament games,and then I migrated to Haddonfield Online. In those days, I often came home from games, wrote up the summary, and it was posted the next morning. Now, as you know if you are reading this, I do a mostly weekly recap for Haddonfield Today.

I told the seniors that I’d been to every state final game since 1973 and told them a funny story (well, the story itself isn’t funny, as it still sticks in my crawl 35 years later) about how Haddonfield had gone 31–0 en route to the state title Paul Wiedeman’s senior year only to lose in the first round of the inaugural Tournament of Champions game due to outrageous (I told you I’m still bitter) refereeing in the final minutes. They listened and responded appropriately to the parts about a technical and an offensive charge, both being called against Haddonfield, that cost us the game. Then I said, “Enough about me.”

All eight seniors have been playing together since their days in the HBYA (Haddonfield Youth Basketball Association), which starts in middle school, i.e., 6th grade. I first asked if that seemed like 7 years ago or not. Just like it would take them a while to warm up on the court a little while later, it took a few minutes for them to give me more some nods and smiles. As he often does on the court, Daire got the ball rolling, so to speak, acknowledging how cool it was that they had all stuck with the game and were still playing together as seniors.

My next question got them going and really illustrated how comfortable they are with each other on and off the court. I wanted them to describe their teammates with a word or phrase, and the answers I got made us all laugh, as often the terms they gave me could have been taken an entirely different way and resulted in me writing a different kind of story that could have piqued the interest of the Haddonfield PD.

For example, Matt was called “shifty” and “elusive,” as well as “goofy and fun.” What his friends meant by the first two words was that Matt has the ability to change direction on a dime and avoid the opposition so he can drive in, pass the ball, or, as he did a few games later, stop short and drop in a 3. Nate labeled many of his teammates “shooters,” which is quite true. (Looking at stats in the 2/11 edition of NJ.com, which reflected games up through 2/8, Haddonfield has three players, with Sam number 1 despite all his missed games, in the top 10 for 3’s made. Together, their numbers add up to more than 160. Daire, Zach, Nate, and Mike have also hit their share of 3’s during the season.)

As for Nate, he got called “tall,” “strong,” “beast,” and “grizzly.” But my favorite word was given by Zach, who used his arms to emphasis what he meant by “Loooong.” At 6-8, Nate has quite a wingspan, which explains why he’s leading the Colonial Conference in blocked shots, averaging just under 2 per game. He is one of several Dawgs that have missed some games due to injury, and he confirmed that while he felt a bit out of shape his first few games, he is “back.” His ”strong” showing in the paint later that night echoed that statement.

While his teammates have all taken turns starting this year, I told Mike that I suspected he might love basketball more than anyone for sticking with basketball even though he does not get as much playing time. He gave me a big smile and said it is “always fun” to be a part of the team with his buddies. And when one of the adjectives shared for him was “underrated,” all seven of his mates nodded vigorously that this was an understatement. Their mutual appreciation of and respect for Mike came out during that night’s game, when they made sure everyone in the stands knew what he could do with a ball in his hand. Whenever he was on the court, they fed him so he could shoot. Thanks to their unselfishness, Mike finished with 14 points along with Nate.

Unselfishness is part of the Dawgs’ mantra, part of Coach Wiedeman’s core belief that every player wearing the Haddonfield uniform is part of the team, an important part. If you look at the Colonial Conference assists leaderboard, you wouldn’t likely be surprised that Daire is in the top spot. But proving how well they mesh on the court, several other Dawgs are in the top 20 for “dishes” per game. No one has to be, or seems to want to be, the “star.” Sam’s had a few monster games, but on any given night, three players will finish in double digits, usually only separated by a point or two.

“Unselfish” is also the word that when doled out for Daire, got his fellow senior Dawgs pounding the table in agreement. He was also called “talented” and “clutch.” “Clutch” was certainly the word to use when as a freshman and not the tallest Dawg on the court, Daire intercepted a pass with the Dawgs down 2 with about 2 seconds left in the game. Even then, he had the calmness on the court to plant his feet so he was centered before he let go a 3 that swooshed in and won the game (and an appearance on ESPN). I had noticed that in the past few weeks, Daire had started taking shots instead of just setting up his teammates to score. Was that intentional? Daire said that both he and Coach Wiedeman had decided he needed to take shots when open. It’s been paying off.

Patrick is “tough,” a “Dawg” (which I interpreted to mean he does not give up trying to get the rebound or score in the paint), and “physical.” But apparently this young man, who is among the Colonial Conference leaders in rebounds, also has a “silly” side. NJ.com’s Kevin Minnick has also ID’d Patrick as one of the conference’s unsung heroes. In the 2/11 online issue, he writes that Patrick “does all the dirty work and generally makes the paint his home.”

What did his teammates have to say about Zach? They cited his defense, that he has a hand in everything going on, and that he is “the glue guy.” He was also sidelined with a calf injury for quite a while, but also says he is feeling good again. His on-court play also indicates that this is the case.

Phil has a reputation among his teammates of being cool on the court, nonchalant, and sneaky. He is sneaky because you never know what he’s going to do: Drive hard into the paint to score, make a great pass, or knock down a 3 just when it’s needed. And no matter which of these actions he takes, he demeanor does remain cool as a cucumber. (Although, I have to admit that after sinking a few of his trademark corner 3’s, he was playing to the crowd—the Sterling student section specifically—a few nights later. But, to quote a line in the Drama Club’s upcoming spring musical, Chicago [check out the drama club page, https://hmhsdrama.com, for the March dates], “they had it coming.”)

Sam had been sitting directly across from me—with his right ankle and foot in a boot—during our interview session. He has very intense eyes. It’s probably one of many reasons the senior squad had a lot of superlatives for him: “basket,” “sniper,” “that guy,” “consistent,” and  “leader.” Even when he’s been sidelined, now for the second time, Sam still conveys that leadership quality. The good news is that the MRI he had the next day enabled Sam to get out of the boot. According to his dad Gary, Sam really wants to be on the court for today’s 4 p.m. Camden County tourney game versus Cherry Hill West, because he knows his teammates will need him. But whether he is on the court or not, Sam is a big part of the heart and soul of the team.

How, I asked, have all their years together, made them better on the court? Sam spoke up first, saying it has given them trust in each other. It’s also helped them almost instinctively know each other’s moves on the court. “We’re good friends on and off the court,” Phil added, saying that is why their chemistry is so natural. Daire expanded on Sam’s comment about trust, explaining that they can speak to each other freely during a game if a situation arises and no one gets upset. I saw a perfect example of this during the Winslow Township game on Saturday when Nate got called for a foul he didn’t commit and got a bit riled, since it was his fourth and he had to leave the game. A quick word from Daire and a pat on the back helped to calm Nate down.

Finally, I wanted to know what the Dawgs’ legacy means to them. Daire called it a “culture,” and being expected to win. Each team each year wants to keep that going. Phil also said there are different aspects. It’s about being on the court, but it’s also about what you do in the classroom and outside of it.

I can’t express how impressed I was by these eight young men. They were attentive, engaging, and polite, but above all, they were the definition of all the parts that make a team not just successful but special. As I made my way back to my seat in the stands, I was weaving in and out of a passel of current HYBA’ers. (It was also HYBA night at the high school.) While many of these boys may end up playing varsity hoops on this hallowed court and serve their team and school well, I suspect none will quite match the qualities exemplified by this elite group of eight.

HMHS Boys Basketball: Dawgs have a good bounce-back week

After their first loss of the season on 2/3 to Central Regional, the Haddonfield boys basketball team got back on the winning side with three victories this past week. Two finished off Colonial Conference play—the Dawgs were 15–0 overall and 10–0 in the Liberty division. The last was the start (for Haddonfield, who had a first-round bye) of the Camden County Tournament. In addition to looking at the three victories, which bring the Dawgs’ record to 24–1, I also have a separate post on the Dawgs who are nearing the end of their careers on the hardcourt, titled “Senior Dawgs: The Elite Eight.”

Paulsboro at Haddonfield: February 6. 2024

In their first game of the new year away against the Red Raiders, the Dawgs won by 18, 43–25. This game, which was also Senior Night, would not be that close.

As is tradition, Coach Paul Wiedeman started five seniors, and even with Sam Narducci out of the lineup as his ankle healed, that still meant two additional seniors were watching from the bench when the game tipped off. On the court at the outset were Patrick Ryan, Daire Roddy, Zach Langan, and Nate Rohlfing, all who had started many of the Dawgs’ previous 22 games, and Mike Feinstein, who got his first start of the season. He also got the biggest cheer when he was introduced by Dawgs’ announcer Mark Hershberger.

It would take the Dawgs a little time to really warm up offensively (or maybe shake off the game that ended their winning streak), but Paulsboro never got past lukewarm, so it didn’t really matter. Langan got the Dawgs on the board going 1–2 from the foul line with only 30 seconds gone in the first quarter. Then the crowd went wild as Feinstein, who has a pretty stroke, swooshed in a 3 to put the Dawgs up 4–0. Ryan would score in the paint to make it 6–0 with 4:15 on the clock. The Red Raiders’ first field goal came off a steal at the 3:40 mark.

Ryan hit a bank shot (off the backboard), the Dawgs pressed at the Raiders’ end keeping them from scoring, Rohlfing got a shot to roll around the rim and drop in, and after the Raiders failed to score again, Roddy also got a roll-in bucket. And with 2 and change left in the quarter, the Dawgs were up 14–2,  and that would be the final basket of the first 8 minutes.

In the second quarter, the Dawgs’ kicked it up a notch offensively. The Red Raiders got their second 2 points of the game from the foul line, and senior Phil McFillin sent in a basket from behind the arc, making 17–4, Haddonfield, with less than a minute having ticked off the clock. Paulsboro got 2 and Langan followed with his first basket from the field, pushing the Dawgs’ lead up to 13, 19–6, with about 5 minutes until halftime.

Paulsboro got another point on the board from the foul line and after some missed scoring opportunities on both sides, McFillin nailed another 3. After neither team scored a few more times, McFillin hit his third trey of the quarter, making it 25–7, Dawgs, with about 2 minutes left in the half. In those 2 minutes, senior Matt Morris would get a basket off an offensive rebound. At the other end, Rohlfing would pull down a defensive board, and back under the Dawgs’ basket would score off a feed from Morris. The last basket came with about .05 seconds showing on the scoreboard as sophomore Mike Douglas found nothing but net from outside. As the teams left the court, the Dawgs were stealing the game from the Raiders, up 23, 32–9.

In quarter 3, the Dawgs put up 4 times as many points as the Raiders, outscoring them 20­–5. To the credit of his teammates and to the delight of the fans (both young and old), Mike Feinstein showed why his fellow seniors described him as “underrated”: He netted another two 3’s and also got a 2 on a floater. This also emphasized why, in the first week of February (after 21 games), Haddonfield had three players—Roddy, who was, and still is, on top, Narducci, and Ryan—in the Colonial Conference list of top 10 assist-makers. In these 8 minutes, Morris and Ryan contributed a pair of buckets each, and Roddy and Rohlfing both scored once more.

So, doing the math for you (and remember, math is not my strongest suit), that meant that as the fourth quarter commenced, the Dawgs were rolling, ahead by 37 points. And while their opponents would score 14 in the fourth—a point shy of their total points in the first three quarters, that differential would only widen for the Raiders in the last 8 minutes of the game. Feinstein, Langan, and Douglas added to the Dawgs’ trey count. (The Dawgs would finish with 10.) Rohlfing, who looked strong in the paint, scored three more times, and sophomore Jack McKeever came in and got a pair of buckets as well. When the horn sounded, the Dawgs had probably made the Raiders see red, beating them by 44 points, 73–29. Mike Feinstein and Nate Rohlfing shared the scoring honors with 14 points apiece.

Quarter scores:

1st: Haddonfield 14, Paulsboro 2

2nd: Haddonfield 18, Paulsboro 8

Halftime score: Haddonfield 32, Paulsboro 10

3rd: Haddonfield 20, Paulsboro 15

4th: Haddonfield 73, Paulsboro 29

Player scores:

Mike Feinstein 14

Nate Rohlfing 14

Phil McFillin 9

Patrick Ryan 8

Zach Langan 8

Matt Morris 6

Mike Douglas 6

Jack McKeever 4

Haddonfield at Sterling: February 8, 2024

Two nights later, the Dawgs headed down Warwick Road to Stratford to finish out the regular season and finish off the Silver Knights of Sterling. At least that was the plan, but the Silver Knights had other ideas, at least for the first 10 minutes of the half.

For the initial few trips up and down the court, neither team got the ball into the basket. However, Haddonfield did pick up two quick fouls. Matt Morris got the Dawgs on board first with a 2, but Sterling answered with a basket. After losing the ball on a traveling call, the Dawgs got assessed foul number 3, which was number 2 on Phil McFillin, at the 5:24 mark and people who don’t usually complain out loud (including me) started to do so. (I must have been out of earshot of the usual suspects who are vocal about perceived bad ref calls.) Mike Feinstein entered the game for McFillin and instead of what looked like a great pass to Nate Rohlfing, he was issued a traveling violation.

At the other end, Daire Roddy got a defensive board and Morris connected for a 3 to put the Dawgs up by that many with 3:51 left in the quarter. Sterling scored and got to go to the line when Haddonfield picked up foul #4. The made foul shot tied the game at 5.

Haddonfield failed to score, as did Sterling, and after another missed shot by the Dawgs, the Silver Knights hit a 3 to go up 8–5 with 2:18 on the clock. Rohlfing scored on a feed from Patrick Ryan to get the Dawgs to within 1, but Sterling got another bucket to go back up by 3, 10–7. Ryan got fouled and dropped in both shots to again whittle Sterling’s lead down to 1 with 1:13 showing on the scoreboard. A pickoff by Ryan and then a nifty bounce pass to Rohlfing gave the Dawgs back the lead, 11–10, with 50 seconds to go. Neither team scored ahead of the quarter-ending buzzer.

The second quarter started with yet another foul being called on Haddonfield. (This was one game when I appreciated the new rule of 5 fouls per quarter, not 7 per half, before the 1+1 foul opportunity comes into play.) Sterling sank both to retake a 1-point, 12–11, lead with not even 15 seconds gone. Haddonfield couldn’t blame the score all on some iffy foul calls, though. They were making some bad passes and losing the ball out of bounds. One such bad pass set up a 2-point Silver Knights’ basket, which gave them a 3-point, 14–11, advantage, with 6:35 left in the half. After the “shifty” Morris got his second 3 of the game to bring it even, Sterling got a 2 to pull back out in front 16–14.

Zach Langan earned a trip to the foul line after pulling down an offensive board, and his shots tied the game at 16 with 5:14 on the clock. A few plays later, Langan recovered a loose ball and scored to switch the edge back to the Dawgs, 18–16. But almost immediately, Sterling hit a 3. After a missed shot, the Dawgs stole the ball back only to lose it—an event that happened more than once this game. Sterling got fouled but this time did not get any points from the foul line. Langan, who wasn’t kidding when he said he felt good after recovering from his injury, knocked down a 3 to seesaw the lead back to the Dawgs, 21–19. Sterling was called for 5 seconds so did not get a chance to score and then got a foul called (to the cheers of the Dawgs’ fans). The Dawgs missed a shot, got the board, missed again, got the board, and on the third try, Rohlfing got the ball in the net, putting the Dawgs up by 4, 23–19, with 1:38 to go.

After a timeout with 1:21 left in the half, Rohlfing brought down another board, setting up Langan for his second 3 of the quarter, and the Dawgs were now up by 7, 26–19, with about 49 seconds remaining. Sterling scored and got to the line for a chance to make it a 3-point play, but the foul shot didn’t drop. But Morris’ trey attempt just ahead of the buzzer did, so when the Dawgs headed off the court at the half, they had built up, in the final few minutes, an 8-point, 29–21, lead.

After the break, the Dawgs came back energized. Haddonfield inbounded and McFillin used the backboard to knock in a 2 to give the Dawgs their first double-digit, 31–21, lead. Haddonfield got charged with a shooting foul, but Sterling could not take advantage from the line, keeping it a 10-point differential. A Roddy dish to Rohlfing made it 33–21, and a trey from McFillin put the Dawgs up by 15, 36–21, barely a minute into the third. Not surprisingly, Sterling called a timeout.

That didn’t do too much to help the Knights, as Ryan got a defensive board and McFillin scored on an easy layup.  A blocked shot by Ryan was called a foul by the refs, and Sterling’s 2 from the line broke their scoreless drought, but the Knights were still trailing by 15, 38–23. That turned into 20 points on a 2 by Rohlfing and a 3 by Morris, and with 4:51 on the clock, the Dawgs had put up 17 points in less than 4 minutes and were now in control, up 43–23.

Sterling didn’t score, Morris pulled down the board, and McFillin, who was feeling the magic, rained down another 3 and gave the Sterling high school fans a bit of a salute as he upped the lead to 23 points, 46–43. (If you had seen the clip Sterling played off their admittedly cool video screen before the game, a video that included fans storming the court after an upset win at Haddonfield, you would have understood where some of that attitude was coming from.) Although the Dawgs scored 5 more points, on 2’s by Roddy and Ryan and foul shot from Rohlfing, in the quarter, they also got a bit sloppy again, or they likely would have been ahead by more than 51–29 when the third came to an end.

In the last 8 minutes, the Dawgs put up 16 more points. Morris added 5, three from the foul line; McFillin made a final 3; Rohlfing and Langan each added one more bucket; and Mike Douglas and Chris Beane also hit 2’s. When the clock wound down to 0:00, the Dawgs had defeated the Silver Knights by a score of 67–38. The Dawgs had four players in double digits. Morris led the way with 20; McFillin and Rohlfing had 13 each; and Langan, who got 10 points in the second to help the Dawgs take control of the game, finished with 12.

Quarter scores:

1st: Haddonfield 11, Sterling 10

2nd: Haddonfield 18, Sterling 11

Halftime: Haddonfield 29, Sterling 21

3rd: Haddonfield 22, Sterling 8

4th: Haddonfield 16, Sterling 8

Player scores:

Matt Morris 20

Phil McFillin 13

Nate Rohlfing 13

Zach Langan 12

Patrick Ryan 4

Daire Roddy 2

Mike Douglas 2

Chris Beane 2

Camden County Tournament—Winslow Township at Haddonfield: February 10, 2024

Haddonfield’s first opponent in the Camden County Tournament was Winslow Township—another flock of Eagles. This game was pretty much over from the first period thanks to Nate Rohlfing, who scored three times in the paint and made 3 foul shots, and Patrick Ryan, who scored twice under the basket and once from the line. Matt Morris and Daire Roddy hit 3’s and all total, put the Dawgs up by 14, 20–6 by the quarter’s end.

Super soph Mike Douglas came into the game in the second quarter and connected on a pair of treys and also made 2 from the line. (He may have been the only Dawg who didn’t have to take extra shots from the foul line if there was practice Sunday.) Rohlfing barreled up and in two more times, and Morris and Ryan each scored again. At the half, the Dawgs were tar and feathering the Eagles, ahead by 23, 36–23.

While McFillin’s pair of treys with a 2-pointer in between fueled the Dawgs’ third quarter offense, that was marred by what happened with 3:08 on the clock. Rohlfing was rammed going after a rebound and left the court clutching his left shoulder and in visible pain. As he was being attended to on the bench, I’m sure the collective thought in the crowd was, “Oh no! Not Nate again too!” I did get some good intel after the game that while Nate had injured that shoulder during football season (he played tackle), the word from the Haddonfield trainer was that it looked as if Nate was going to be OK. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow if he’s in the starting lineup or not … For his sake and Haddonfield’s, I sure hope this “beast” is ready to go against the Cherry Hill West Lions.

The Dawgs got 16 points to finish out the game. Douglas got three more baskets, Morris had one more, and Langan knocked down a 3. Chris Beane, who always plays hard when he gets into the game, scored 5 quick points to close out the offense for Haddonfield, who won the game handily 67–31. Mike Douglas led the Dawgs with 16. He edged out Nate Rohlfing, who only scored 2 from the line in the third before having to exit the game and finished with 15.

Quarter scores:

1st: Haddonfield 20, Winslow Township 6

2nd: Haddonfield 16, Winslow Township 7

Halftime score: Haddonfield 36, Winslow Township 14

3rd quarter: Haddonfield 15, Winslow Township 10

4th quarter: Haddonfield 16, Winslow Township 8

Player scores:

Mike Douglas 16

Nate Rohlfing 15

Phil McFillin 8

Patrick Ryan 8

Matt Morris 7

Daire Roddy 5

Chris Beane 5

Zach Langan 3

The Week Ahead

It’s playoff time, so all that’s known for certain is that Haddonfield squares off against Cherry Hill West today at 4 p.m. at Eastern Regional High School. If they advance, the next game would be Wednesday at (but not against) Camden East Side. Stay tuned.

Next week, the NJISAA tournament begins, and while we are waiting for the brackets, it’s at least a safe assumption that the first game, slated now for Wednesday, Feb. 21, would be at home.

HMHS Boys Basketball: Streak comes to an end at 21–0

January 30–February 3

The Haddonfield boys basketball team played three games this past week, two versus Colonial Conference rivals and one against a nonleague opponent. The first two saw the Dawgs extend their unbeaten streak to 21. The last resulted in the Dawgs’ first loss of the season. I was at the matchups against Haddon Township and West Deptford, but was unable to attend the Holy Cross Academy Showcase contest against Central Regional High School. However, I will share some comments from two of my on-site reporters.

Haddon Township at Haddonfield: January 30, 2024

The Dawgs and the Hawks first took to the court on Dec. 19. That game the Dawgs won by nearly 50 points, 67–19. While the point spread wouldn’t be quite that much in round two, the result was still the same.

That was partly due to the sluggish start the Dawgs had in the first 8 minutes of the game. While senior Phil McFillin hit a 3 with a little more than a minute gone, it would take more than 2 minutes for senior Matt Morris to add to the Dawgs’ tally with a 2. Since the Hawks had only managed a 2 (that would be their only basket of the quarter), it wasn’t cause for alarm. In fact, most fans in the Dawgs’ section no doubt realized the team had played four games the previous week and were just a bit worn down. Senior Sam Narducci followed Morris’ 2 with a 3, at the 2:40 mark, and that was actually the last basket for the home team before the first buzzer sounded.

Quarter two, the Dawgs shook off that hint of lethargy and began taking better shots that consequently began to drop. Senior Nate Rohlfing, although he did not start, saw some minutes in the first quarter and was on the floor at the outset of quarter 2. And he immediately scored. After McFillin grabbed a defensive rebound, sophomore Mike Douglas sunk a 3 off a feed from senior Patrick Ryan, and with barely a minute gone, the Dawgs had already put 5 on the board and were now up 13–2.

With 5:45 on the clock, a cheer went up in the crowd as senior Zach Langan, who had not played since the Sterling game at home on Jan. 5, came onto the court for Ryan. Langan, who had been sidelined for almost a month with a calf injury, would score the Dawgs’ next basket off a feed from Narducci and then at the other end, contributed to a traveling violation being called on the Hawks. Rohlfing went into the paint for another 2 with McFillin picking up the assist. Under the Hawks’ basket, Douglas’ blocked a shot and the ball went out of bounds off Haddonfield. Rohlfing got the defensive rebound and Douglas did a sideways drive to the hoop, putting the Dawgs ahead by 17, 19–2, with just under 4 minutes to go in the half.

After a timeout by Haddon Township, Morris picked off the ball, threaded it to McFillin, whose basket made it 21–2, Haddonfield. At the other end, McFillin picked up a foul and then a rebound, which led to another basket by Rohlfing. The Hawks broke their close to 9-minute scoring drought with a 3-pointer and then scored a 2 less than a minute later. Even so, when Rohlfing got his fourth bucket of the quarter after pulling down an offensive board, the Dawgs still had an 18-point, 25–7, lead with 1:31 left in the half. Narducci would collect the Dawgs’ last two baskets, the first off a feed from Rohlfing, the second off his own steal. When the halftime horn sounded, the Hawks were trailing by 22, 29–7.

The second quarter would prove to be the Dawgs’ best offensively. In the second half, they recorded 14 points in both the third and fourth periods, while the Hawks put up 10 and 7, respectively. For the Dawgs in the third, Ryan went up and in three times, Narducci hit a 3 and 2 foul shots, Douglas made 1 from the line, and Rohlfing had another 2. Speaking of 3’s, perhaps one other sign that the Dawgs were not quite going at full throttle was their below-average number of 3’s. While the team usually combines for close to double digits in the trey department, this night, they only hit 4: Narducci’s two, and one each from McFillin and Douglas.

In the fourth, Rohlfing kept finding the basket, making two from the field and one from the foul line. Narducci got one more from the line, and Douglas got another from the floor. Senior Mike Feinstein and sophomore Chris Beane came in and each scored a basket, and sophomore Chase Stadler added a pair from the foul line. When all was shot and done, the Dawgs had beaten the Hawks by 27, 58–28. In this lower-scoring game, only two Dawgs reached double digits: Nate Rohlfing put up 15 and Sam Narducci finished with 13.  

Quarter scores:

1st: Haddonfield 8, Haddon Township 2

2nd: Haddonfield 21, Haddon Township 5

Halftime score: Haddonfield 29, Haddon Township 7

3rd: Haddonfield 14, Haddon Township 10

4th: Haddonfield 14, Haddon Township 7

Final score: Haddonfield 57, Haddon Township 28

Player scores:

Nate Rohlfing 15

Sam Narducci 13

Mike Douglas 8

Patrick Ryan 6

Phil McFillin 5

Matt Morris 2

Zack Langan 2

Mike Feinstein 2

Chris Beane 2

Chase Stadler 2

Haddonfield at West Deptford: February 1, 2024

While the Dawgs should have been enjoying their 79–44 victory over the Eagles that notched them win number 21, something that happened early on in the game left players and fans feeling more apprehensive than celebratory.

The game started out well enough, with the Dawgs seeming more energized than they had appeared two nights earlier. Sam Narducci’s 3 put the Dawgs on the board and after a blocked shot by Patrick Ryan off an Eagles’ offensive rebound, Narducci hit another 3. The Eagles missed another shot, Daire Roddy got the rebound, and this time Narducci drove into the paint off a pass from Patrick Ryan. With 2 minutes gone, it was Narducci 8, West Deptford 0.

The Eagles’ first points came at the 5:42 mark from the foul line. After the Dawgs did not score, Ryan got a defensive rebound, Narducci got the ball, was fouled, and hit the floor. With 5:09 on the clock, Narducci was helped off the floor, limping and in pain. Nate Rohlfing entered the game as Narducci left to shoot what should have been Narducci’s foul shots. He made 1–2 to make it 9–2, Dawgs. Because I happened to be sitting closer to the Haddonfield bench than I had been all year, I had a good view of Narducci and kept an eye on him for the rest of the game. (I’ll write more on him shortly.)

From where I was sitting, I could hear also hear a lot of Coach Paul Wiedeman’s comments, as well as the players who were watching from the sidelines. At this point, Wiedeman yelled out “Loose, loose” to make sure all the Dawgs knew no one had control of the ball. A scramble followed, and West Deptford came up with the ball. Their effort was to no avail, as they did not score, Rohlfing pulled down the rebound, and after he passed the ball to Matt Morris, Morris fed it back to Rohlfing, who slammed it home.

After another missed shot by the Eagles, Ryan secured the rebound and Phil McFillin hit a 3, making it 14–2, Dawgs. (With not quite 5 minutes gone in the game, the Dawgs already had three 3’s, compared to only four total from two nights earlier. They would finish with 11.) The Eagles answered with a 3 to make it a 14–5 game. A few plays later, Zach Langan entered the game for Ryan and immediately scored off a pass from Roddy. The Eagles again responded, keeping it a 9-point Haddonfield advantage. Roddy’s jumper pushed that to a double-digit, 11-point, 18–7 edge with 18 seconds on the clock and that was the score when the buzzer sounded.

West Deptford inbounded the ball to start the next 8 minutes and got a bucket. Haddonfield committed a turnover, but Mike Douglas, who was on the floor to start the second, pulled down a defensive board, and McFillin followed with his second trey of the game to make it 21–9 with about 67 seconds having ticked off the clock. The Eagles got a point from the line, the Dawgs didn’t score, but Matt Morris pilfered the basket and then after some nice passing set it up, he nailed a 3, boosting the Dawgs’ lead to 24–10 with 5:44 left in the half.

The Eagles scored, then Rohlfing scored. The Eagles scored again and Rohlfing scored again. With 4:23 to go in the half, the Dawgs were still up by 14, 28–14. Langan came in once more for Ryan and once again made his presence known, getting fouled after Rohlfing had pulled down a defensive rebound. He made 1–2, then at the other end, grabbed a rebound. He passed it to Douglas, who scored. West Deptford got the next 4 points of the game, 2 from a basket and 2 from a pair of foul shots, and with 2:08 on the clock, it was 31–18, Haddonfield.

After a missed shot by Haddonfield, Rohlfing got the offensive board and scored. He then blocked an Eagles’ shot, Langan got the rebound, and after pulling down an offensive board, McFillin was fouled. He made both his shots with 1:06 on the clock. About 10 second later, West Deptford made 2 from the line, making it 35–20. Morris knocked down a 3, West Deptford responded with a 3 at their end, and with 3 seconds left, Douglas swooshed in a 3, giving the Dawgs an 18-point, 41–23, lead as the teams exited the court.

While the game was going on, the West Deptford athletic trainer had been taking very good care of Narducci. First, she gave him an ice pack that he could wrap around his right ankle. (I would find out later that while it was the same ankle he’d hurt earlier in the season, the sprain was in a different place.) Then she wrapped it. Narducci sat sideways on the bench with his right leg bent and I’m guessing trying to put as little pressure on his foot as possible. Needless to say, he looked pretty downcast to have injured his ankle again, but his buddies on the team took turns checking in on him and trying to keep his spirits up. At the half, the trainer came back to check on him. She unwrapped the bandage, removed the ice pack, and Narducci put his shoe (not his sneaker) back on. He then got up and walked across the court, which seemed like a good sign. However, a short time later, he was back on the bench, and when I checked again, the bandage was back on minus the ice pack.

In the third quarter, Morris went on a scoring frenzy. He started the period off with a 3 and would hit another pair of treys as well as a 2-pointer for 11 points McFillin got his third 3 of the game, as well as another 2. Rohlfing scored two more buckets, and Ryan and Landan each scored in the paint. In case you weren’t just doing math in your head, that barrage added up to 24 points for the Dawgs, who held the Eagles to 10.

In the fourth, Rohlfing picked up where Morris left off. He could not be stopped in the paint, and went up and in five times. One of those baskets resulted in a 3-point play, as he was fouled and made the basket from the line. Douglas would get the Dawgs’ last 3 of the game, sandwiched between all Rohlfing’s 2’s. When the buzzer sounded, the Dawgs had landed the Eagles on the losing side again, beating them soundly, 79–44. Thanks to his fourth quarter efforts, Nate Rohlfing finished with 24 points. Matt Morris, with his five treys, had 17, and Phil McFillin added 13.

As for Narducci, he left the court on crutches and was headed for another X-ray. In an update from Coach Wiedeman today, he told me there was no timetable for Narducci’s return. I’m sure we are all hoping he can rest that ankle and be able to come back for the Dawgs’ Group 2 run, which begins in a few weeks.

Quarter scores:

1st: Haddonfield 18, West Deptford 7

2nd: Haddonfield 23, West Deptford 16

Halftime score: Haddonfield 41, West Deptford 23

3rd: Haddonfield 24, West Deptford 10

4th: Haddonfield 14, West Deptford 11

Final score: Haddonfield 79, West Deptford 44

Player scores:

Nate Rohlfing 24

Matt Morris 17

Phil McFillin 13

Sam Narducci 8 (in 2 minutes’ time)

Mike Douglas 8

Zach Langan 5

Patrick Ryan 2

Daire Roddy 2

Holy Cross Prep Showcase—Haddonfield vs. Central Regional: February 3, 2024

Well, it took 22 games before Haddonfield would come out on the losing end, to a very tough opponent who came into the game with a 17–3 overall record and a 6–0 record in their Shore B South Conference division. I was unable to attend the game due to a fun family event (the second birthday of my twin great-nieces Ana and Gwen), but I did have a few people, aka my on-site reporters, keeping me updated. Both said that this was the first team that Haddonfield played who had the same kind of defense. And both said the absence of Sam Narducci was felt.

In his halftime text, Reporter #1 also told me the Eagles (finally a team with wings that the Dawgs couldn’t clip) did not miss a 3 in the first 2 quarters, which is probably a big reason they were up by 6 at the half. Reporter #2 gave me some short texts during the game, but came home and texted me a much more thorough report. Here are some of the highlights Reporter #2 “passed” along:

In quarter 1, Daire Roddy got the Dawgs’ first basket on a 3, and Phil McFillin followed that with a 3 of his own. At the 4:43 mark, the Dawgs were looking pretty good, up 10–3. After a Roddy pickoff, Patrick Ryan was fouled and made 1-2. However, the Eagles came back with two quick 3’s. At one point toward the end of the first, Roddy was knocked out of bounds but no fouls were called. And I quote, “Defense by both teams intense.” At the end of the quarter, the Dawgs were up by 2, 15–13.

Before starting their second quarter summary, Reporter #2 stated, “First I would like to credit Patrick Ryan for getting to the right place for a large percentage of shot rebounds today.” (The box score on NJ.com confirmed that assessment, recording 12 rebounds for Ryan.) Unfortunately, in less than 2 minutes, the Eagles had pulled ahead by 2, 19–17, meaning they had outscored the Dawgs by 4. A foul shot and a 3 added 4 more points to Central Regional’s score before McFillin got his third 3. The Dawgs added 3 on foul shots by Ryan and Zach Langan. Ryan got the Dawgs’ last bucket of the half, pulling down three tough rebounds before he finally got the ball in the net.

From Reporter #2’s accounts, the first part of third quarter was pretty ugly all the way around. With just under 4 minutes left, it was 32–29 in favor of Central Regional, which meant the Dawgs had scored 5 points and the Eagles only 2. About 3 minutes later, the tide had turned: The Eagles had gone on a 7–0 run and were up by 10, 39–29. That was the score when the quarter came to an end.

In the fourth, Haddonfield would manage only two baskets, both in the first 4 minutes: a 3 by Matt Morris and a final 3 by McFillin. This was due to Central “keeping us … from getting in under the basket.” When the buzzer sounded, the Dawgs’ 21-game winning streak had been ended by a really tough, really good West Regional team, who won by 17, 52–35. Phil McFillin was the only player for Haddonfield in double digits, with 11. Patrick Ryan added 9 points to go with his 12 rebounds.

The Week Ahead

Haddonfield finishes out the regular season with a home game Tuesday, 2/6, versus Colonial Conference Liberty opponent Paulsboro. It is Senior Night, so come out at 7 p.m. to show your appreciation for our seven senior starters—in numerical order—Matt Morris (#2), Phil McFillin (#3), Patrick Ryan (#4), Sam Narducci (#10), Daire Roddy (#12), Zach Langan (#15), and Nate Rohlfing ($21)—and our great player off the bench, Mike Feinstein (#11). Thursday is an early (5:30) away game versus another Liberty rival, Sterling.

Saturday starts (for Haddonfield) the Camden County Tournament. Seeded third behind Camden and Eastern, the Dawgs had a bye in the first round and will host Winslow at home on Saturday, time to be determined. After the Camden County Tournament, now in its second year, the NJSIAA tournament starts. Haddonfield’s first game is currently scheduled at home on 2/28.

I want to close out with a big thanks to all my eyes in the stands from game to game, but especially Reporter #2, who did a top-notch job keeping track of the contest this past Saturday in my absence. But as always, my sources remain anonymous!

HMHS Boys Basketball: Four more games. Four more wins.

The Haddonfield boys basketball team had a long week, playing three conference games before competing once again in the Jeff Coney Classic at Rancocas Valley Regional High School (RVRHS) on Saturday. While each conference opponent—Woodbury, Audubon, and Haddon Heights—gave the Dawgs a bit of a challenge, the most competitive game would prove to be the nonconference match versus Nottingham High School, the game I did not get to stream or see live. (The RVRHS AD, who told me last week via email that the game would be streamed on the school’s YouTube channel has some “splainin’ to do, because it wasn’t.) So while I’ll give recaps from the Colonial contests I saw (two via live stream and one, Audubon, in person), I alas won’t have too much to tell you about the Nottingham game beyond what two “on-site” reporters passed along.

Haddonfield at Woodbury: January 22, 2024

The varsity game’s 4 p.m. start time on Monday made streaming it later a much better option for me. Plus, my recliner chair is a bit more comfy than seating in most schools’ gymnasiums.

From the outset, Woodbury, members of the Patriot division of the Colonial Conference, made their presence “Herd,” scoring the game’s first basket. While senior Sam Narducci’s trey put the Dawgs out in front on Haddonfield’s first possession, the Woodbury players made it clear the Herd was going to run with the Dawgs. After a 3 by senior Phil McFillin made it 6–2, Dawgs, with 5:45 on the clock, the Dawgs had a chance to add to their score after a combined pickoff by senior Daire Roddy and Narducci. Ensuing foul shots did not drop, however, and the Herd answered with a 2. Senior Patrick Ryan went in for a bucket off a feed from Narducci, putting the Dawgs up 8–4, and after Woodbury lost the ball, Ryan scored again, this time off a pass from senior Matt Morris.

The Dawgs’ 10–4 lead was short-lived, as the Herd hit a 3. Ryan, who was a scoring machine in the first 8 minutes, scored once more, with Roddy getting the assist, making it 12–7, Haddonfield, but Woodbury scored back-to-back 2’s. With 3:46 on the clock, the Herd were within 1, 12–11. Narducci, who would score 9 points on a trio of 3’s in the first, hit his second to push the Dawgs’ edge to 15–11, but Woodbury got a 2, and with 2:17 left in the quarter, they were hanging around, only down by 2, 17–15.

After pulling down an offensive board, Ryan’s shot made it 17–13 with about 90 seconds to go in quarter 1. Neither team scored their next possessions, but with 1:06 on the clock, Woodbury’s 2 got the Herd back to within 2, 17–15 before Narducci swooshed in his third trey of the quarter, making it 20–15, Haddonfield, which was the last basket for either side before the horn sounded.

In the second quarter, the offense cooled a bit under both baskets. After Woodbury got the first basket of the second quarter to make it 20–17, Haddonfield, with less than a minute gone, the Dawgs had some miscues and missed shots that resulted in no baskets. Woodbury found the net again and, with 5:52 left in the half, had gotten to within 1, 20–19. A possession later, after the Dawgs had once more failed to score, the Herd had a chance to tie the game or go up by 1 from the foul line. Neither shot dropped, and a few plays later, Narducci dropped in a 3, putting the Dawgs up by 4 again, 23–19.

Woodbury’s next shot attempt was blocked, and Ryan scored in the paint and was fouled. His shot from the line went in, and with 4:34 remaining in the second, the Dawgs were now in front 26–19. About a minute later, Narducci upped that lead to double digits, 29–19. After a much-needed Woodbury time out, the Herd came back and got a basket, but Narducci responded with yet another 3, which gave the Dawgs an 11-point, 32–21, advantage.

Woodbury would not score again in the half, but the Dawgs added 4 more points on baskets by Narducci and McFillin. As the teams headed to their locker rooms, the Dawgs had put some space between them and their hosts and were ahead by 15, 36–21.

Narducci, who scored 20 of Haddonfield’s 36 first-half points, stayed hot in the remaining two quarters. He made five 2’s in the third. Meanwhile, Woodbury as a team, which had done a good job of keeping the game close for a good part of the first half, only managed two baskets in the third, both coming after the midway point. For Haddonfield, sophomore Mike Douglas knocked down a 3, Ryan made another basket, Roddy scored twice, and senior Nate Rohlfing, who is playing significant minutes but not starting yet after returning from his injury, also added a bucket. When the third ended, the Dawgs had really pulled away from the Herd and were leading by 28, 57–25.

Narducci had himself quite a night, and even though Haddonfield coach Paul Wiedeman would sit all the starters (I count seven Dawgs’ players as starters this year, by the way) before the game ended, Narducci still managed to sink another 3, go up and in for a pair of 2’s, and drop in 2 from the foul line. A 3 from senior Mike Feinstein and two baskets from freshman Ryan Guveiyian accounted for the other 7 points of the fourth. When the game was over, the Dawgs had left the Herd in the dust, winning by a score of 73–38. Sam Narducci was responsible for more than half of Haddonfield’s points, besting Woodbury’s score by 1, with 39.

Quarter scores:

1st: Haddonfield 20, Woodbury 15

2nd: Haddonfield 16, Woodbury 6

Halftime: Haddonfield 36, Woodbury 21

3rd: Haddonfield 21, Woodbury 4

4th: Haddonfield 16, Woodbury 13

Final: Haddonfield 73, Woodbury 38

Players scores

Sam Narducci 39

Patrick Ryan 13

Phil McFillin 5

Daire Roddy 4

Ryan Guveiyian 4

Mike Feinstein 3

Mike Douglas 3

Nate Rohlfing 2

Haddonfield at Audubon: January 23, 2024

The Audubon Wave’s gym has gone through a transformation. In fact, if you so desire, you can buy a piece of the old floor, that is framed with its dates of 1958–2023, as a souvenir. (One set of Haddonfield parents, who met 33 years ago when the now husband and dad was scouting the game for Haddon Heights and the wife/mom was in attendance cheering for Haddonfield, purchased a piece to commemorate the start of their “court”ship.) The Wave motif, seen in a few locations in the gym, has been depicted artistically as a mascot that has a bit of a resemblance to the Flyers’ Gritty.

Audubon is also in the Patriot division of the Colonial Conference, so this would be Haddonfield’s only meeting with them. Patrick Ryan tipped the jump ball to Daire Roddy to begin the game, but the Dawgs could not score on their first attempt. After the Wave lost the ball out of bounds, Roddy hit a 3 to give Haddonfield an early 3–0 lead. A traveling violation was called against Audubon, and at the other end, Phil McFillin was fouled. His two shots from the line were good, making it 5–0, Dawgs, before Audubon scored its first basket of the game.

After a 3 from Narducci, Ryan grabbed a defensive rebound, and Audubon, applying good pressure, knocked the ball out of bounds. So, the Dawgs stepped behind the arc, with Narducci setting up Roddy for another 3, and with 4:46 on the clock, the Dawgs were up 11–2. Audubon answered with a 3, and then after the Dawgs did not score, made a 2 to get back to within 4, 11–7 with just under 4 minutes left in the quarter. Audubon blocked a shot, Matt Morris pulled down a defensive board, and at the Dawgs’ end, McFillin hit a 3 to make it 14–7, Haddonfield.

Neither team scored their next trips up and down the court, then the Wave made a bucket. Ryan got fouled pulling down an offensive rebound. After making the first shot, he missed the second, got his own rebound, but the Dawgs lost possession out of bounds. Morris collected the defensive rebound under the Wave basket, and Roddy nailed his third trey of the quarter, which doubled Audubon’s score, making it 18–9 with 1:35 left in the quarter. The last basket of the quarter would be a 3 by McFillin ahead of the buzzer after the Dawgs got an offensive board. This gave Haddonfield a 21–9 lead going into the second period.

Audubon chipped away at that 12-point deficit, scoring the first two baskets of the second quarter, a 2 and a 3, respectively, to get to within 7, 21–14, with 6:40 on the clock. McFillin got his third 3 of the half, and after Audubon lost the ball out of bounds, Narducci got 2 off an offensive board. A pair of foul shots from the Wave made it 26–16, Haddonfield with 5:21 to go in the half.  More than a minute ticked off the clock before another ball found the net. This time it was Audubon who scored from the field and followed with 1 from the line. With 4:01 remaining in the second, Audubon had taken away the Dawgs’ double-digit lead and were within 7, 26–19.

Unfortunately for the Wave, those 3 points would be their last of the quarter. The Dawgs went on a 16-point run that went like this: Narducci hit a 3, McFillin did the same, Ryan went in for a basket off a Roddy pass, then he scored again on another pass from Roddy, and Narducci ended the run with another 3. When the teams exited the court for halftime, the Dawgs had shored up their lead and were out in front of the Wave by 23, 42–19.

That lead grew in the third. Audubon only got two baskets, a 3 with 5:35 on the clock and a 2 with 3 and change left in the quarter. Haddonfield’s offense slowed a bit, and in fact, the third would be its lowest-scoring of the game, as they “only” put up 17. Morris, Narducci, and Roddy added 3’s, Morris and McFillin both scored a 2, and Ryan added a pair of buckets. Going into the final 8 minutes, the Dawgs were making quite a splash in the Wave’s new gym, up by 35, 59–24.

Rohlfing got some extra time on the court in the fourth and made the most of it, going up and in for four baskets in the paint. Morris got one more 3, and Roddy got his fifth bucket of the game—the only one that wasn’t a trey—but the rest of the scoring came from the bench. Mike Douglas scored three times, Mike Feinstein hit a 3,  and Ryan Guveiyian made 1–2 from the foul line. When the horn sounded, the Dawgs had sunk 10 3’s on the way to sinking the Wave 82–39. Four starters finished in double digits and nine Dawgs scored altogether: Phil McFillin led the Dawgs with 16, Sam Narducci and Daire Roddy both had 14, and Patrick Ryan had 12.

Quarter scores:

1st: Haddonfield 21, Audubon 9

2nd: Haddonfield 21, Audubon 10

Halftime: Haddonfield 42, Audubon 19

3rd: Haddonfield 17, Audubon 5

4th: Haddonfield 23, Audubon 13

Player scores:

Phil McFillin 16

Sam Narducci 14

Daire Roddy 14

Patrick Ryan 12

Matt Morris 8

Nate Rohlfing 8

Mike Douglas 6

Mike Feinstein 3

Ryan Guveiyian 1

Haddonfield at Haddon Heights: January 25, 2024

Thursday night was the first rematch for Haddonfield against the teams that are also in the Liberty division of the Colonial Conference. In the first game of the season back in December, the Dawgs had hosted the Garnets, winning by 5, 41–36 in what so far has been their second-closest final to date. This second meeting would have a slightly different outcome.

In the first few minutes of the game, the lead shifted back and forth. Matt Morris got the Dawgs on the board for the first basket of the quarter, but the Garnets responded with one of their own. Phil McFillin hit a 3 to make it 5–2, Dawgs, but Heights got a point back from the foul line, and with a little more than 2 minutes off the clock, it was briefly 5–3, Haddonfield, before Heights got its first 3 of the game to go up by 1, 6–5. Patrick Ryan snatched the lead back with 2, and at the other end, grabbed a defensive board after the Garnets’ shot did not go in.

Under the Dawgs’ basket, Ryan then pulled down another board, which set up another 3 from McFillin. A turnover by Heights turned into a basket by Narducci, and with 3:51 on the clock, the Dawgs’ mini run had put them up by 6, 12–6. McFillin got the defensive board when Heights again did not score and passed the ball to Daire Roddy, who drove into the paint for 2 to make it 14–6, Haddonfield, leading to a timeout called by Heights with 3:23 left in the first.

Neither Heights nor Haddonfield scored on their first possessions after play resumed. McFillin got a defensive board but again the Dawgs could not get the ball in the hoop. Ryan’s block of a Garnet shot sent the ball airborne, but the Dawgs still couldn’t score. Finally after Ryan hauled down one more defensive rebound, Narducci’s attempt at a 3 dropped in, giving the Dawgs a double-digit, 17–6, advantage with 1 minute and change to go. Heights’ several minute drought ended with 52 seconds left, but a drive into the paint by McFillin with 39 seconds remaining boosted the Dawgs’ lead back up to 11, 19–8. That would be the final basket of the quarter, as Heights let the clock run down to almost 0 before taking a shot that did not go in.

The next 8 minutes would produce the biggest offensive output for both teams. McFillin made five baskets: a pair of 3’s, a pair of 2’s, and was 1–1 from the line. Narducci got another 3 and another 2, in reverse order than in the first. Matt Morris had 2 field goals and was also 1–1 from the line. Ryan and Roddy each scored a basket, and so while Heights added 13 to its total, the Dawgs added 25 and had more than doubled the Garnets’ score by the half, ahead by 23, 44–21.

Morris went on quite a tear in the third, knocking down two 3’s and three 2’s, meaning he tripled the Garnets points, outscoring them on his own 12–4. Mike Douglas, Roddy, and Narducci all scored 2’s as well.

Then with about 4 minutes to go in the quarter, things got a bit rough-and-tumble on the court. With the Dawgs cruising along 56–23, Narducci, as he does at least a few times per game, stole the ball and was on his way to a cross-court basket when a Heights player pushed him into the student section under the basket. I was streaming the game, and there wasn’t much of an explanation. I couldn’t tell exactly what had happened from the angle I saw Narducci go down, but my on-the-scene pair of eyes told me later that Narducci was knocked into the stands, which was no doubt an (unsportsmanlike) act of frustration by the guilty Garnet. However, instead of Heights getting assessed with a technical, Ryan almost had one called on him for coming to Narducci’s rescue and pulling the offending Garnet off of him. When all was said and done, Heights was charged with a regular player foul. Narducci made 1–2 before limping off the court. (Luckily, Coach Paul Wiedeman confirmed later that night that Narducci, who had already missed several games due to a high ankle sprain, was OK.)

At that point, the Dawgs were up 57–23. The period ended with Morris getting his last 2 baskets, Douglas getting his, and Heights making one. When the clock hit 0:00, the Dawgs were tarnishing the Garnets, ahead by almost 40, 63–25.

In the 4th, McFillin got one more basket before heading to the bench, Nate Rohlfing got his first, and then JV squad took over. Mike Feinstein, Chris Beane, and Ryan Guveiyian came in back-to-back-to-back and promptly hit back-to-back-to-back 3’s. A few plays later, sophomore Chase Stadler came in and got in on the 3-point fun. Mike Douglas scored a 2, and Beane followed his trey with a 2 as well. When the final horn blasted, the Dawgs had blasted the Garnets out of the gym, beating them by 51, 83–32, which was a bit more than the 5-point differential of the first game. McFillin and Morris supplied much of the Dawgs’ offense, pouring in 21 and 19, respectively. Narducci finished with 13.

Quarter scores:

1st: Haddonfield 19, Haddon Heights 8

2nd: Haddonfield 25, Haddon Heights 13

Halftime score: Haddonfield 44, Haddon Heights 21

3rd: Haddonfield 19, Haddon Heights 4

4th: Haddonfield 20, Haddon Heights 7

Final score: Haddonfield 83, Haddon Heights 32

Player scores:

Phil McFillin 21

Matt Morris 19

Sam Narducci 13

Daire Roddy 6

Chris Beane 5

Patrick Ryan 4

Mike Douglas 4

Mike Feinstein 3

Chase Stadler 3

Ryan Guveiyian 3

Nate Rohlfing 2

Jeff Coney Classic—Haddonfield versus Nottingham: January 27, 2024

The Dawgs never trailed during a quarter in this game their fourth game in 6 days. Their opponent, from the Colonial Valley Conference, was 10–4 overall coming into the game. That being said, according Reporter #1, Haddonfield got off to a slow start, missing “a lot of shots early,” which is not the norm for the Dawgs’ high-octane offense. Reporter #1 credited sophomore Mike Douglas, who came in off bench and “turned the game around.” Reporter #2 confirmed this assessment, citing Douglas’ “exceptional rebounding and getting to the hoop.”  Their off shooting is no doubt one reason the Dawgs had only put up 25 points to Nottingham’s 14 at the half. 

In the second half, the Dawgs put a few more points on the board, finishing with 55 to Nottingham’s 43. This was only the sixth time all season that the Dawgs were held to less than 60 points. I didn’t have a Kevin Minnick NJ.com game wrap-up to get more details this time, but I can give you quarter scores and some individual stats for the Dawgs’ players.

Quarter scores:

1st: Haddonfield 11, Nottingham 8

2nd: Haddonfield 14, Nottingham 6

Halftime score: Haddonfield 25, Nottingham.14

3rd: Haddonfield 12, Nottingham 8

4th: Haddonfield 18, Nottingham 21

Final score: Haddonfield 55, Nottingham 43

Player stats:

Matt Morris scored 21 points, five from behind the arc. Phil McFillin finished with 14, making four treys and two steals. Patrick Ryan had another solid game at both ends, scoring 6 points, pulling down 11 rebounds, and dishing out four assists. Sam Narducci also had 6 points. Mike Douglas had 4 points, nine rebounds, and three assists. Nate Rohlfing had 4 points and two blocked shots. Floor general Daire Roddy also had three assists.

The Dawgs are now 19–0 overall and 11–0 in the Colonial Conference (6–0 in the Liberty division).

The Week Ahead

The Dawgs have a bit less of a frenetic schedule in the next seven days. Up first, they finally have a home game, their second Liberty rematch, versus the Haddon Township Hawks. Thursday is their away game versus the Eagles of West Deptford. Both games are at 7 p.m. Saturday, they have an 11 a.m. nonleague game versus Central Reginal High School at what is becoming a familiar setting: Holy Cross Academy in Riverside.

HMHS Boys Basketball: Dawgs 2, Snow 1

If you’ll excuse my mixing of sports metaphors, winter threw a curveball to South Jersey basketball this past week. The Dawgs’ basketball game at Woodbury scheduled for this past Monday, 1/15 at 4 has been rescheduled for this Monday, 1/22, at 4. They did get the game in Thursday at home versus Collingswood, and I was wondering what was going to happen Saturday, 1/20, with all the games scheduled at Paul VI for their Winter Classic, but happily, those games went on as scheduled. As the temperatures are supposed to start rising into the 40s and beyond, it’s likely that the three regularly scheduled games will take place this week, but more on them at the end.

Collingswood at Haddonfield: January 18, 2024

After watching the JV squad declaw the Panthers by 60 odd points, I wondered if the varsity game would be more of the same or a bit closer. It turned out to be a little bit of both.

The Panthers came out fighting in more ways than one. After neither team scored on their first possessions, Collingswood got the first basket of the game. Senior Daire Roddy tied it at 2, driving in and going down (no foul called) afterwards with about 1:20 gone in the game. Collingswood lost the ball out of bounds, Haddonfield did not score from the foul line, but the Panthers came back to get the next two baskets to go up 6–2. Senior Matt Morris’ trey cut that lead down to 1, 6–5, with 4:30 on the clock. Good pressure from the Panthers was keeping the Dawgs out of the paint, so senior Phil McFillin stepped behind the arc and swooshed in a 3 to put the Dawgs up by 2, 8–6 with a little less than 4 minutes left in the quarter. A Roddy pickoff led to a 2 by McFillin to put the Dawgs up by 4, 10–6.

Ryan pilfered the ball this time, but it did not result in a score. Collingswood did, to make it 10–8 with 2:42 on the clock. The Dawgs did not score, but Roddy got another steal and went up and in, putting the Dawgs back in front again by 4, 12–8.  He also went down again after apparently being poked in the eye by an opponent. As he came out, time was called on the floor, and Coach Paul Wiedeman did what he rarely ever does: He came out onto the court to voice his displeasure at the refs’ not calling fouls after this play and a few others that involved physical contact. As Roddy headed for the trainer’s table, Nate Rohlfing got a nice round of applause as he entered the game for the first time since the Sterling game on 1/5. He promptly picked off the ball, and after getting his own offensive board, McFillin hit his second trey of the quarter, pushing the Dawgs’ lead up to 7, 15–8 with 1:42 on the clock.

The next possession for each team led to points from the foul line. The Panthers got 1 and senior Sam Narducci got a pair, bolstering Haddonfield to an 8-point, 17-9, advantage with 90 seconds to go. Collingswood did not score its next trip up the court, but after Rohlfing pulled down two offensive boards, he scored on a feed from McFillin. Morris grabbed a defensive board under the Panthers’ basket and this time, Rohlfing was fouled. He made 1–2 with 10.8 left, and that was the last score of the quarter. When the buzzer sounded, Haddonfield was up 20–9.

In the second quarter, even though the Dawgs put up 24 to the Panthers’ 14, it felt like they were making Haddonfield work a little harder for their points. Haddonfield wasn’t just running down the court and shooting. They had to put a little more into setting up plays. The result was that Morris, McFillin, Narducci, and Ryan spread out the points, scoring 5, 4, 6, and 7, respectively, in those second 8 minutes. Sophomore Mike Douglas, who came in off the bench in the quarter, added 2 from the foul line ,and Rohlfing, showing no rustiness from having been out for a few games, got another basket in the paint. When the teams headed off the court at the half, the Dawgs were up 44–23.

The third quarter , which saw Roddy back on the floor, was the tightest of the four scoring wise. The Panthers got the first 4 points off two trips to the foul line. The Dawgs started out a little cold after failing to score in their first three attempts. Cue Roddy to turn into the Artful Dodger (you can Google it if you aren’t familiar with Oliver!) and make a pretty pass to Ryan for Haddonfield’s first 2 of the second half, making it 45–27 at the 6:20 mark. Neither team scored for more than a minute until Ryan turned an offensive board into another 2 points Another pickoff by Roddy meant another 2 for Ryan, and with the Dawgs up by 23, 50–27 with 4:21 on the clock, Collingswood called a full time-out.

After some good defense under the Panther basket, McFillin got 2 under the Dawgs’ basket, and the Panthers answered with a basket. Ryan got fouled in the act of shooting and hit both from the line, and again Collingswood got a basket. With 3 and change left in the quarter, it was 54–31, Dawgs. Haddonfield finally got two baskets in a row, one by Morris, one by Roddy, without Collingswood scoring in between to go up by 27, 58–31 with just under 2 minutes on the clock. However, Collingswood turned the table and scored a pair of unanswered baskets, and with :37 to go in the third, it was 48–23. Rohlfing got the last point of the quarter from the foul line, and as the horn sounded, even though the Panthers had put up 12 to the Dawgs’ 15, the Dawgs were still comfortably in control, ahead by 24, 59–35.

Narducci wasted no time in making that 62–35 on a 3 pointer after Haddonfield inbounded to start the fourth. He would add a 2, along with Roddy and Rohlfing; Morris got his third trey of the day; and Douglas got another pair from the foul line, as did sophomore Chris Beane, in off the bench. Also seeing some playing time in the fourth was sophomore Jack McKeever, who pleased his teammates watching on the sidelines and the fans in the stands by scoring two baskets. When the final horn sounded, the Dawgs had won by the score of 79–48.

Quarter scores:

1st quarter: Haddonfield 20, Collingswood 9

2nd quarter: Haddonfield 24, Collingswood 14

Halftime score: Haddonfield 44, Collingswood 23

3rd quarter: Haddonfield 15, Collingswood 12

4th quarter: Haddonfield 20, Collingswood 13

Final score: Haddonfield 79, Collingswood 48

Player scores:

Phil McFillin: 14

Patrick Ryan: 14

Matt Morris: 13

Sam Narducci: 12

Daire Roddy: 8

Nat Rohlfing: 8

Mike Douglas: 4

Jack McKeever: 4

Chris Beane: 2

Paul the VI Winter Classic—Pitman vs. Haddonfield: January 20, 2024

I was a bit surprised that the snow did not derail this multi-team tournament. Haddonfield’s game against the Pitman Tigers, who were 10–3 overall, 4–0 in the Classic division of the Tri-County Conference coming into the game, was a later afternoon game. That’s why the parking lot was packed by the stands weren’t: People were next store going to Mass.

Just from the Tigers’ record, I was expecting a close game. My brother-in-law, Wayne Grear (HMHS class of 1970, who missed playing for Dave Wiedeman by a few seasons), came with my sister Carol to see the Dawgs for the first time so far this season. I was sharing the stats with him as the teams were warming up, and from what he saw, he predicted Haddonfield would win by 30.

Sure enough, it seemed Wayne was, ahem, on point, as the Dawgs raced out to a 11–0 lead. Sam Narducci got the first basket off a feed from Daire Roddy after Patrick Ryan sent the ball his way during the jump. A pickoff led to a 3 by Phil McFillin. In the next score, Roddy sent a cross-court pass to Narducci, who went up and in. That was followed by Roddy passing the ball not quite so far to Ryan, who got his first basket of the game. For the last basket of the run, Roddy, who was fully engaged from second 1, passed to Ryan, who flipped it to Narducci, who found the net. And just like that, with 4:51 on the clock, the Dawgs had put 11 on the board while the Pitman players must have gotten a bit of whiplash.

After the Tigers finally scored, Narducci hit his first 3 of the game ,and Morris got his first basket, also a 3. The Dawgs were also picking up a lot of fouls, and after the Tigers made 1–2 from the line, McFillin got his second trey of the quarter. With almost 3 minutes left in the quarter, the Dawgs were up by 17, 20–3. Pitman got another point from the line, and a few plays later, Narducci made a nice move to get to the rim. After a defensive board by Ryan (according to the box score on NJ.com, Ryan finished with 11 rebounds), Narducci got fouled and made 1–2. Pitman got another 2 from the floor, and after getting his own rebound off a missed shot, Nate Rohlfing scored the Dawgs’ last basket of the quarter. Pitman would get one more and as the quarter ended, the Dawgs were up 25­–8.

Narducci was on a tear in the first half. In the second quarter, he added two more 3’s and another pair of 2’s. On his own, he equaled Pitman’s halftime score of 22. Aiding and abetting Narducci were Mike Douglas, who got a 2 and a 3; Chris Beane and Ryan, who each got a 2; and in the most acrobatic score of the game, Morris almost lost his dribble, kept it alive, and then drove in for a basket. At the half, the Dawgs had more than doubled the Tigers and were up 46–22.

Quarter 3 belonged to Ryan and Morris. They combined for seven baskets, Ryan with four and Morris with 3. Narducci knocked back another 3 and another 2, and his 5 points, along with the 14 from Ryan and Morris, accounted for the Dawgs’ 19 points. Pitman scored 14, as they did in the second quarter and would in the fourth.

In the fourth, Ryan went up and in four more times in the last 8 minutes of the game. Narducci added one more 3 and one more 2. Douglas, who is proving to be steady at the line, got 2 there and one from the floor. Senior Mike Feinstein and junior Jake Dewedoff, who came into the game in the fourth along with the rest of the JV squad, both got baskets as well. When the horn sounded, the Dawgs had defeated the Tigers by 38, 88-50. (Hey Wayne, you were off by 8.)

Ryan and Narducci had monster games, finishing with 20 and 32 points, respectively. And worth noting as well, even though he did not score, NJ.com recorded that Roddy had seven assists.

Quarter scores:

1st quarter: Haddonfield 25, Pitman 8

2nd quarter: Haddonfield 21, Pitman 14

Halftime: Haddonfield 46, Pitman 22

3rd quarter: Haddonfield 19, Pitman 14

4th quarter: Haddonfield 23, Pitman 14

Final score: Haddonfield 88, Pitman 50

Player scores:

Sam Narducci: 32

Patrick Ryan: 20

Matt Morris: 11

Mike Douglas: 9

Phil McFillin: 6

Nate Rohlfing: 4

Mike Feinstein: 2

Jake Dewedoff: 2

The Week Ahead

The Dawgs, who are now 15–0 overall and 8–0 in the Colonial Conference, have a busy week on the road. Monday, 1/22, is the 4 p.m. makeup game at Woodbury. Tuesday, they go to visit the Audubon Wave, and Thursday, they have a rematch with the Garnets of Haddon Heights. Those last two games both start at 7 p.m. Finally, the Dawgs will be in another tournament on Saturday, 1/27, this time at Rancocas Valley High School, taking on Nottingham High School at 7:30.

HMHS Boys Basketball: Dawgs continue to roll along

The HMHS boys varsity basketball team had quite the week, playing three games between January 8 and the 13. Not only did they easily keep their winning streak alive, now 7–0 in the Colonial Conference and 13–0 overall, they did one leg of it in quite an historic fashion.

Lindenwold at Haddonfield: January 8, 2024

This was the game that would have left everyone who was rooting for Haddonfield a bit stunned in a good, but very unexpected, way. Even with two senior starters nursing minor injuries (forwards Nate Rohlfing and Zach Langan), to say that the Dawgs steamrolled the Lions would be a gross understatement.

In the first quarter, after the Dawgs got the first bucket on a 2 from senior forward Patrick Ryan, senior guard Sam Narducci knocked down a  3. The Lions got on the board with a basket to make it 5–2, Dawgs, with just under a minute gone. The Dawgs would put 17 unanswered points on the board (a 3 by senior guard Matt Morris; a 3 by Narducci; a 3 by senior guard Phil McFillin; a 2 by Ryan from Morris; a 2-point drive by Narducci followed by a foul shot; and another 3 from Morris). When the Lions got that second basket, 4:02 was showing on the scoreboard, and the Dawgs were up 22–4.

Lindenwold did not take nearly as long to get its third basket and finished the quarter with 10 points. But the Dawgs would finish with 38 points, with 21 coming off three-pointers: Morris hit 3 and Narducci and McFillin each made two.

The next 8 minutes were much more competitive. Lindenwold started making more baskets and added 18 to its total. Narducci swooshed in two more 3’s, McFillin got another, and sophomore guard Mike Douglas got his first trey of the game. Sophomore forward Chris Beane came in and made a trio of 2’s, including the last bucket of the half; Morris drove in for a pair; and Narducci made a 2 as well. At the half, the Dawgs were up by 34—more than Lindenwold had put on the board—62–28.

Five Dawgs combined for 16 baskets from the field and three foul shots in the third quarter on the way to scoring 37 points. Here’s how it broke down: Morris made 2 shots from the line, a 3, and a 2; McFillin had a trio of 2’s; Ryan kept driving into the paint, scoring five times, and added 1 from the foul line; Narducci nailed his fifth (and final) 3 and also scored three times from inside the arc; and senior point guard Daire Roddy, who is usually too busy directing traffic, actually took a shot and scored. While all this offense was going on, the Dawgs still held the Lions to 11 points, and with 8 minutes left in the game, were up by 60, 99–39.

As I’m sure most people in the stands were, I was sitting in my normal perch trying to remember what the biggest scoring game was Haddonfield had ever had. I knew one thing for sure: Never had the team started the fourth quarter a point away from 100. On those rare occasions when the Dawgs were getting close to the triple-digit mark, it was the end of the game and our coach, who would never run up the score just because he had the players who could do it, would be directing those on the court—who would most definitely not be his starters or even his first-off-the-bench players—to spread the ball and make a lot of passes before taking a shot. Usually this tactic worked and the Dawgs would exit the court without reaching 100. Monday night, this was not going to happen …

Seven players, all of whom played in the JV game beforehand, got into the last 8 minutes. Twenty-two points were scored. Mike Douglas got two more treys; freshman forward Ryan Guveiyian matched Douglas with a pair of 3’s; Beane got one more basket; and sophomore forward Jack McKeever made three 2’s. When the horn sounded to end this contest, the Dawgs had put 121 points on the board to Lindenwold’s 50, beating them by 71 points. Ironically, those 50 points are more (counting the two games that followed) than any other team has scored against Haddonfield this season.

Four Dawgs were in double digits: Sam Narducci led the way with 30; Matt Morris had 22; Patrick Ryan contributed 19; and Phil McFillin finished with 17. Before I list the quarter scores and list all of the players’ points, I want to address what the “old-timers” in the stands (including Dave and Vic Wiedeman, Tom Betley, and yours truly) were huddled together talking about afterwards: While we were 99.99% sure between us that no Haddonfield team had gotten 121 points in one game before, we were trying to remember what the biggest point total before that night had been. Dave and I were thinking around 104 or so.

When I got home, I made a beeline to my stack of Dawg scrapbooks (they go back to the 1973 state championship and go up through 2006, Brian Zoubek’s senior year; clearly, I am a bit behind, but I do have “archives” safely collected). I had a hunch that it would be the 1989 team, coached by one Wiedeman (Dave) and led on the floor by another (Paul) that would have scored more than 100 points over four quarters, and I knew I had, from the program of the year Dave went into the HMHS Athletic Hall of Fame (1999) a list of every game the team played en route to a 31–0 season that culminated with Haddonfield bringing home the school’s second boys basketball state title.

Sure enough, that year while blowing out most of their opponents by 20, 30, or more points, Haddonfield had three games (until I looked again just now, I missed the first one) in which they scored more than 100 points. First, they beat Woodbury 102–45 seven games into the season. In the last third, they put up 100-plus in back-to-back games. They outscored Eastern 104–68 (Eastern would get sweet revenge, eliminating Haddonfield in the first round of the inaugural Tournament of Champions several weeks later, but I still don’t like to talk about that game and two bad calls that cost us the win, not that I’m still bitter), and then put up 108 to Haddon Township’s 63. So, yes, Haddonfield fans, in their game versus Lindenwold, the Dawgs bested their previous best by 13 points. I think it is fairly safe to say that no other Haddonfield squad had reached 62 points by the half or 99 by the end of the third.

Well done, boys and coaches. I added “and coaches” because it isn’t a stretch to say that Haddonfield could have won by even more were our coaches the kind who like to run up the score at any cost with no regard to the opposing team.

Quarter scores:

1st Quarter: Haddonfield 38, Lindenwold, 10

2nd Quarter: Haddonfield 24 Lindenwold 18

Halftime: Haddonfield 62, Lindenwold 28

Third Quarter: Haddonfield 37, Lindenwold 11

Fourth Quarter: Haddonfield 22, Lindenwold 11

Final score: Haddonfield 121, Lindenwold 50

Player scores:

Sam Narducci: 30

Marr Morris: 22

Patrick Ryan: 19

Phil McFillin: 17

Mike Douglas: 9

Chris Beane: 8

Jack McKeever: 8

Ryan Guveiyian: 6

Daire Roddy: 2

Haddonfield at Gloucester City: January 10, 2024

Before I do a recap of this game, I want to apologize to any fans, like me, who did not go to the game and were trying to stream it off the Gloucester City’s Hudl page. Although it listed the game as upcoming, giving the impression it would air live, this was not the case. It took at least a day for a final score to appear, and a few days later, nothing was showing up when I would click the View button. Just now, I went to the page and finally it’s showing “highlights” of the game, and for some reason, they weren’t showing the Dawgs’ taking care of yet another group of Lions. What I discovered too late to watch it live was that Gloucester City has a YouTube channel and that’s where I was finally able to see the game a few days later.

I also want to take the time to talk about the depth of this Dawg squad. Sam Narducci missed a few games in a row, and for three games in a row, starting with the Lindenwold contest, Nate Rohlfing and Zach Langan have been on the bench nursing minor injuries. With no disrespect meant at all to these three young men, who all contribute offensively and defensively every game, I want to tip my hat to Matt Morris and Phil McFillin and the coaching staff. The two games that Narducci sat out, Morris and McFillin each took a turn starting. With both Rohlfing and Langan out, Morris and McFillin have both been in at the outset of the last three games. And there has been no downtick because these seven players, who also include Daire Roddy and Patrick Ryan, are all starter-worthy. These seniors, who have been on the court together since they were in elementary school, play hard at both ends of the court. They can score inside the paint or knock down a 3. They can cause a world of trouble defensively for their opponents. And they are unselfish. Although I haven’t gone back to verify this, I am pretty confident that a good chunk of the Dawgs’ points per game come off of assists.

The Dawgs’ coaching staff, led by head coach Paul Wiedeman, includes JV coaches Brian Stafford and Antony Parenti (another former Dawg); Scott Kupersmit, assistant JV coach; and Travis Murphy, the freshman coach. They not only work with the players on offense and defense, they teach them how to be a cohesive unit. That’s why these young men don’t just play together, they play for each other. Watch the bench sometimes during a game. Lately, I have seen Narducci, Rohlfing, and Langan engaged with what’s happening on the court, even when they haven’t been able to play. And at the end of the game, when a starter’s night is done, watch how much each one enjoys cheering on the up-and-coming players. If you want to know how and why Haddonfield has stayed a premier team in Camden County, not to mention the state, for decades, this will give you a big clue.

OK, now back to the Gloucester City game. While the Dawgs did not make it to 100, they still won handily. The first quarter begin with McFillin, Narducci, and Morris hitting three’s before Gloucester got on the board with a 2. Ryan’s offensive board led to the first 2 of the game for the Dawgs, and then on the Dawgs’ next possession, the second 2, which put the Dawgs up 13–2 with 4:32 on the clock. After another 2 by the Lions, Narducci launched back-to-back treys. McFillin then scored twice in a row, putting up a 2 off a steal and then hitting his second trey of the night. Narducci closed off the scoring for the quarter with his third 3 of the game, which put the Dawgs up 27–4.

The Dawgs’ output the second quarter dropped to three baskets, two by Morris and one by Mike Douglas. Even so, and even though the Lions put 14 on the board, going into the half, Haddonfield was still up by 15, 33–18.

And then the reverse happened in the third. Lindenwold managed 4 again, 2 from the foul line and one from the field, while the Dawgs’ offense kicked in again thanks to Morris and Ryan. The Dawgs’ first three buckets of the second half were treys by Morris. His next 5 points came from the foul line. Ryan scored four times, twice off offensive rebounds. Narducci’s 3 came in the middle of the quarter.

In the fourth, McFillin kept up the offensive pace. He hit two 3’s sandwiched in between a pair of 2’s. Chris Beane made 5 foul shots and a bucket, and Douglas hit 2 from the line and put two in the net from the field. Gloucester City had its best quarter, putting up 19, but Haddonfield still outscored them by 6 points and won 83–41..

Phil McFillin and Matt Morris combined for 43 points, scoring 22 and 21, respectively. Sam Narducci added 15.

Quarter scores:

1st Quarter: Haddonfield 27, Gloucester City, 4

2nd Quarter: Haddonfield 6, Gloucester City 14

Halftime score: Haddonfield 33, Gloucester City 18

3rd Quarter: Haddonfield 25, Gloucester City  4

4th Quarter: Haddonfield 25, Gloucester City 19

Final score: Haddonfield 83, Gloucester City 41

Player scores:

Phil McFillin: 22

Matt Morris: 21

Sam Narducci: 15

Patrick Ryan: 8

Mike Douglas: 8

Chris Beane: 7

Jake Dewedoff: 2

Delsea Regional High School at Haddonfield: January 13, 2024

Before I write about this game, I wanted to share a few facts from a short writeup from the NJ Advance Media boys basketball staff that Haddonfield’s topnotch play-by-play man Mark Hershberger shared in a Facebook post:

After beating Haddon Heights and Camden Catholic by single digits, 5 and 6 points, respectively, in the first two games of the season, in their next 10 games, Haddonfield has bested the opposition by an average of 36.6 points. Not only are the Dawgs averaging just under 70 points per game, they have only trailed after the first quarter twice: to Egg Harbor Township and Moorestown. Phil McFillin, Matt Morris, Sam Narducci, and Nate Rohlfing have double-figure averages. Rohlfing and Patrick Ryan have been combining for more than 20 rebounds per game.

Woof, woof, woof!!!

So, in the original schedule for the week, Williamstown was supposed to be playing at Haddonfield on Friday, January 12. I’m not sure what happened, but that game was cancelled and has not yet been rescheduled (and may not be). Instead, a replacement game was quickly set up, and on Saturday, January 13, the Crusaders of Delsea Regional High School came to the Haddons Pavilion for an afternoon game. The Crusaders are in the Liberty division of the Tri-County Conference, with a 2–1 conference record. The night before, Delsea won a non-conference game to extend their overall record to 9–3 as prepared to face Haddonfield.

For the first part of the game, it appeared as if the Dawgs’ week of wide margin victories was going to put to the test. The Crusaders got the first bucket of the game, a 3, which would be their first of many, to go up 3–0. Daire Roddy got the Dawgs on the board with a 2, but the Crusaders came right back with another 3 to go up 6–2 with 5:25 on the clock. Matt Morris and Sam Narducci responded with back-to-back 3’s to put Haddonfield up 8–6 at the 4:30 mark, but Delsea tied it on a basket and retook the lead from the foul line.

Narducci drove in for a bucket, and Roddy, who I am happy to see is taking some more shots again, hit a 3, and with 3:22 left in the quarter, the Dawgs were up by 4, 13–9. Delsea got its third trey of the quarter to get to within 1, 13–12, but a basket in the paint by Morris pushed the edge back to 3, 15–12 with 1:16 left. A 3-pointer by Phil McFillin increased the lead to 6, 18–12, with about 43 seconds showing on the scoreboard. After stealing the ball and being fouled, Narducci made both shots from the line to make it 20–12, Dawgs, but Delsea got the last basket of the game to get back to within 6, 20–14.

Even though the Crusaders got as close as 22–17 with 6:27 to go in the half, the endless barrage of baskets by Ryan and Narducci in 2nd quarter (both scored four times from the field, with Narducci hitting a pair of 3’s in between two 2’s) started to wear Delsea down. A Ryan basket off a feed from Roddy made it 24–17. It was followed by a nice jumper from Narducci to give the Dawgs’ their biggest lead of the game, 9 points, at 26–17, with 5:36 to go. Narducci got his first 3 of the quarter off a Haddonfield pickoff, making it 29–17 at the 4:36 mark. Delsea got 3 straight points on a foul shot and a 2-pointer, but those points were basically erased by a 3 by McFillin. After the Crusaders failed to score, Narducci got his second trey of the quarter, and with 2:14 showing on the scoreboard, the Dawgs had extended their lead to 35–20. After pulling down a defensive rebound at one end of the court, Ryan scored at the other end off a pass from Mike Douglas, and a few plays later, Ryan would finish out the quarter scoring as Roddy picked up another assist. As the half ended, the Dawgs had broken open what had begun as a close contest and were up by 21, 411–20.

The Crusaders had their biggest offensive quarter in the third, putting up 19 points, but the Dawgs would add 23. Morris had the hot hand, swooshing in two 3’s, a 2, and a pair from the foul line. Narducci scored 5 on a 3 and a 2, Ryan had two more buckets, and Roddy scored again. Going into the last 8 minutes, the Dawgs were in Crusader control, up by 25, 64–39.

In the fourth quarter, the players who had been in a 9:30 a.m. JV game, which they won 74–36, took over after Morris, Ryan, and Narducci got their last baskets of the game. Douglas, Ryan Guveiyian, and Jack McKeever each got a 2, and Mike Feinstein hit a 3. The final score was 79–45. Sam Narducci finished with 25, Matt Morris had 16, and Patrick Ryan added 14.

Quarter scores:

1st Quarter: Haddonfield 20, Delsea 14

2nd Quarter: Haddonfield 21, Delsea 6

Halftime score: Haddonfield 41, Delsea 20

3rd Quarter: Haddonfield 23, Delsea 19

4th Quarter: Haddonfield 15, Delsea 6

Final score: Haddonfield 79, Delsea 45

Player scores:

Sam Narducci: 25

Matt Morris: 16

Patrick Ryan: 14

Phil McFillin: 8

Daire Roddy: 7

Mike Feinstein: 3

Mike Douglas: 2

Ryan Guveiyian: 2

Jack McKeever: 2

The Week Ahead

The Dawgs have an early 4:00 p.m. away game versus the Thundering Herd of Woodbury on Tuesday, 1/16, and that game will be streaming on Woodbury’s YouTube channel. Another Colonial Conference matchup follows as the Dawgs host Collingswood on Thursday, 1/18, at 7 p.m.. Saturday is another non-conference game This one, against Pitman High School is part of  Paul the VI’s Winter Classic tournament. Game time is scheduled for 5:30 but keep in mind there will be games ahead of this one, so it is likely to start a bit later.

HMHS Boys Basketball: January week 1 wrap-up

The Dawgs were sporting a 7–0 (3–0 Colonial Conference) record as the season entered the new year. What would the first three games of 2024 hold?

Haddonfield at Paulsboro: January 3, 2024

The first game of the week had the Dawgs and their fans heading down 295 South, destination Paulsboro. No matter where the Red Raiders stand in the Patriot division of the Colonial Conference from year to year, it is never easy to beat them on their home turf. The Red Raiders went into this matchup with a 3–3 record. In the conference, they had beat Haddon Township and Woodbury and lost to Sterling, who the Dawgs would take on Friday.

While Sam Narducci took part in the pregame warmups, which was a promising sign, the senior guard, who sustained an ankle injury in the Dawgs’ 12/27 victory against Egg Harbor Township, did not see any action for a second straight game. In his absence, senior guard Matt Morris once again joined senior guard Daire Roddy and senior forwards Patrick Ryan, Zach Langan, and Nate Rohlfing on the court for the start of the first quarter.

Although the Dawgs got first possession off the jump ball, they did not score on a drive that seemed to have been thwarted by a foul. “Three refs and they all missed it!” a Dawg fan near me was heard to lament as the teams went back down the court, where Paulsboro got the game’s first 2-pointer. Rohlfing answered with 2 in the paint to tie it at 2 with 6:44 on the clock. After a defensive rebound by Ryan, Rohlfing added 2 more from the foul line to make it 4–2, Haddonfield about 70 seconds later. The Dawgs would hold and grow that lead for the next 29 minutes.

Rohlfing led the charge, adding two more buckets and 3 more from the line in the quarter. Morris added a 3 and senior guard Phil McFillin, in off the bench, added a 2 from the field. After the Dawgs went up 12–4 off the Morris trey, Paulsboro didn’t back down, though. The Red Raiders would score 6 of the last 8 points of the quarter and were only down by 4, 14–10, as the second quarter started.

Rohlfing continued to pound the paint in the next 8 minutes. He put up four more 2’s and added 5 from foul line, showing a toughness at both ends of the court, pulling down offensive and defensive boards. This time, Langan hit a 3 and Ryan scored a pair of 2’s. While increasing their tally by 18, the Dawgs held the Red Raiders to 7 points and headed to the locker room up by 15, 32–17. (In case you were wondering, the hot Rohlfing on his own was outscoring Paulsboro by 3, 20–17.)

Paulsboro came out determined to keep the Dawgs from getting easy baskets and began using one of Haddonfield Coach Paul Wiedeman’s favorite tactics: pressing. That worked, as the Dawgs could not set up plays either in the paint or on the perimeter the way they had in the first half. As a result, the Dawgs only made three baskets, another 3 from Morris, another 2 from Ryan, and a 2 from senior guard Phil McFillin. The Red Raiders had even less offensive output, only mustering 2 from the foul line late in the quarter, so the Dawgs were now up by 20, 39–19, with one quarter remaining.

This last quarter did not get any better offensively for the Dawgs, who only made one basket, by Ryan from the field and got 2, one each from McFillin and senior guard Mike Douglas, from the foul line. The Red Raiders got 6 points, 4 from the line and one from the field. When the rather slow second half came to an end, the Dawgs had won by 18, 43–25, even though they only got 11 points, off a trey, three 2’s, and 2 foul shots, in those second two quarters. That win pushed them to 8–0 overall and 4–0 in the conference.

Quarter scores:

1st: Haddonfield 14, Paulsboro 10

2nd: Haddonfield 18, Paulsboro 7

Halftime score: Haddonfield 32, Paulsboro 17

3rd: Haddonfield 5 Paulsboro 2

4th: Haddonfield 4, Paulsboro 6

Final score: Haddonfield 43, Paulsboro 25

Player scores:

Nate Rohlfing: 20

Patrick Ryan: 8

Matt Morris: 6

Phil McFillin: 5

Zach Langan: 3

Mike Douglas: 1

Sterling at Haddonfield: 1/5/24

It was odd going to a basketball game on a Friday night, but it did make the end of the week even better. I have been trying to get to the Haddons Pavilion (a new name for the Reynolds Building) in time to watch the JV games, although I don’t do stats. As I was watching the JV squad having their way with their Silver Knights counterparts and working my way through my dinner, which consisted of two soft pretzels and a hot dog (and although my dog was quite hot, I miss Chick-fil-A!), another fan in the stands, a former Lady Dawg who was paying closer attention than I was, joined me on my row to point out that the Sterling JV squad had two sets of players with the same number. That, another fan deduced, may have been why the refs were calling more fouls on the Dawgs: They weren’t sure who some of those Sterling players were!

The varsity Sterling Knights took to the court with a 4–2 overall record and a 3–1 conference record. Sterling has been one of the Dawgs’ toughest opponents in recent years, and both teams have stuck it to the other on their home courts. For that reason, it was very good to hear Sam Narducci’s name called as part of the Dawgs’ staring five, although Matt Morris did a standup job in Narducci’s absence from the lineup.

When the Silver Knights capitalized on a Dawgs’ first possession turnover and nailed a 3, the Dawg fans may have been wondering if this was going to be another down-to-the-wire contest, especially when Zach Langan’s 2 was immediately answered by a 2 from Sterling. With 6:29 on the clock, the Dawgs were down by 3, 2–5. The Dawgs lost the ball out of bounds on their next possession, but Patrick Ryan, who plays as hard as anyone when he’s out on the court, picked off the ball, which set up a 3 from Narducci to tie the game at 5 all with about 5:30 on the clock. Sterling responded with a 3, but as if to prove that he wasn’t going to need a game, or even a half, to get back in sync on the floor, Narducci got his second trey in less than a 30-second span to even it up at 8 all with 5:12 left in the quarter.

A travel call on Sterling gave the Dawgs the chance to take the lead, which they did , 10–8, thanks to a nice feed from Daire Roddy to Nate Rohlfing. Langan used his long arms to tap a ball off a missed Sterling shot to his teammates, but the Dawgs lost the ball on a bad pass. Rohlfing secured the defensive board under the Sterling basket and the Dawg contingency went a little nuts when Narducci swooshed in his third trey of the quarter, which put Haddonfield up 13–8 with 3 and change left in the first.

After Sterling did not score again, Rohlfing pulled down an offensive board under the Dawg basket and went up and in, making it 15–8, Haddonfield. With 2:45 on the clock, Sterling called at timeout. Neither team scored, although there was a mad scramble for a loose ball that surprisingly did not result in a foul called on either team.

Sterling hit a 3 with 1:35 on the clock, to get the Silver Knights back to within 4, 15–11, but Ryan made nice move under the basket to put the Dawgs up by 6, 17–11. Sterling hit another 3, with 52 seconds to go, but after a pretty set-up by Roddy, Narducci got his own 3, on a 2 and a foul shot with 23.4 on the clock. Morris, just in the game, scored off a steal, and the quarter ended with the Dawgs up by their biggest margin, 22–14.

Quarter 2 began with a 3 by Sterling, a jumper from Narducci that got a good roll, and another 3 by the Silver Knights at the 6:50 mark that pulled them to within 4, 24–20. Thanks to two quick baskets by Morris, the Dawgs were back up by 8, 28–20, with 5:01 to go in the half. A pair of foul shots by Morris gave the Dawgs a double-digit, 30–20, advantage with just less than 4 minutes in the quarter. An offensive board by the Silver Knights gave them a second-chance shot that went into the net.

The Dawgs got a bunch of chances on offensive boards their next possession but eventually lost the ball out of bounds. However, the hustling Ryan stole the ball and goaltending was called on the Silver Knights when his ball was touched on the rim. That made it 32–22 with less than 2 minutes remaining in the half. Sterling scored with :57 on the clock, then after the Dawgs did not, hit a 3, cutting their deficit to 7, 34–27, but just ahead of the buzzer, Roddy dished the ball the Narducci, who sent the ball up and in. At the half, the Dawgs were up by 9, 36–27.

Haddonfield inbounded the ball to start the second half but after some nice passing to set up a play under the basket, the shot didn’t fall. Sterling’s first shot of the half did, getting them to within 7 again, 36–29, with 35 seconds gone in the third. The Dawgs did not score until the 4:27 mark on a drive by Narducci that put the Dawgs ahead by 9, 38­–29. A few trips up and down the court later, Ryan blocked a shot and the ball went out of bounds off the Silver Knights.

Morris followed with a 3 to give the Dawgs a 41–29 lead with 4:02 on the clock. The Dawgs were called for a foul, but Rohlfing grabbed the defensive rebound only to have the Dawgs lose it out of bounds. Narducci got the defensive board this time and passed it to Morris, who drove cross-court for 2, making it 43–29, Dawgs, with 3:01 on the clock. A pickoff by Haddonfield resulted in Roddy knocking down a 3, and now Haddonfield was up by 17, 46–29, which got the Dawgs fans really whooping in the stands. Morris would add another bucket before Sterling ended its scoring drought and Haddonfield’s 10-point run by making 1–2 at the line. With 1:01 left in the quarter, the Dawgs were up by 18, 48–30, which is how the quarter ended.

The Dawgs just kept rolling along in the fourth quarter. After outscoring the Silver Knights by 9 in the third, 12–3, they did it 1 point better in the last 8 minutes, putting up 19 to Sterling’s 9. When the final horn had sounded, the Dawgs had taken care of business and then some, upending the Silver Knights 67–39. Matt Morris and Sam Narducci led the “slay,” each contributing 20 points to the Dawgs’ total.

Quarter scores:

1st: Haddonfield 22, Sterling 14

2nd: Haddonfield 14, Sterling 13

Halftime score: Haddonfield 36, Sterling 27

3rd: Haddonfield 12, Sterling 3

4th: Haddonfield 19, Sterling 9

Final score: Haddonfield 67–39

Player scores:

Matt Morris: 20

Sam Narducci: 20

Nate Rohlfing: 7

Phil McFillin: 5

Zach Langan: 4

Patrick Ryan: 4

Daire Roddy: 3

Mike Douglas: 3

Ryan Guveiyian: 1

Haddonfield at Moorestown: 1/6/24

At the end of the Sterling game, I asked one player’s father, “Are we good yet?” His reply was, “Wait until the Moorestown game.”

Unfortunately for me, I did not get to the 10:30 a.m. game that took place on the Quakers’ home court the next morning. I was hoping that I could stream it, but even after the game was over, my only option to view the game was to subscribe for a year to the NFHS Network for $79. Considering that would have put me $79 over my Haddonfield Today budget, I had to rely on a few texts from my travel buddy (aka TB) in the fourth quarter and then a recap by the longtime and always great South Jersey basketball writer Kevin Minnick on NJ.com to find out the specifics.

The Dawgs went into Saturday’s game boasting (well, at least the fans were boasting about it; I doubt the coaching staff lets the players come close to boasting) a 9–0 record, with wins over Paulsboro and Sterling having upped their Colonial Conference record to 5–0. The Quakers, who are in the Patriot division of the Olympic Conference and last year’s defending Group 3 South Jersey champs, were sitting at 5–2 overall coming into the game.

Unlike most of the previous nine matchups, this would not be a blowout or anything close to it for Haddonfield. After the first quarter, they were down by 1, 12–13. In the second, they gained a point on the Quakers, so at the half, the game was tied at 21.

In the third, the Quakers got the edge back and were leading by 3, 33–30, going into the fourth. Although I had texted my TB for an update earlier, I did not get a text back until there was 4:33 left in the game and the Dawgs were up by the slimmest of margins, 36–35. In what seemed much longer than 14 minutes, I got another text: “43–38 we win.” Phew!

I had to wait a while longer to read Minnick’s article. (At least there were some good “shots” of the game with the write-up.) Here’s my very short recap: There were seven ties and 10 lead changes. After trailing by 4, the Dawgs went on a 6–0 run, capped by Nate Rohlfing’s basket that put Haddonfield up for good, 41–39. Daire Roddy clinched it at the line off a loose-ball foul, sinking 2 shots with 6 seconds left, giving the Dawgs their closest win margin, 43–39, of their now 10-game winning streak.

I think we can now safely say that yes, the Dawgs are good this year.

Quarter scores:

1st: Haddonfield 12, Moorestown 13

2nd: Haddonfield 9, Moorestown 8

Halftime score: Haddonfield 21, Moorestown 21

3rd: Haddonfield 9, Moorestown 12

4th: Haddonfield 13, Moorestown 6

Final score: Haddonfield 43, Moorestown 39

Team stats:

Nat Rohlfing led the Dawgs with 13 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Matt Morris added 8 and Sam Narducci finished with 7. The Dawgs had seven steals, three by Patrick Ryan.

The week ahead

The Dawgs have another week of Monday (1/8), Wednesday (1/10) and, Friday (1/12) games. The Monday and Wednesday games are home at 7 p.m. versus Lindenwold and Williamstown. The Wednesday game is away at 5:30 versus Gloucester City. The good news is that if this is too early for you to get to in person, Gloucester City is part of the Hudl network, so you can either watch the contest live or stream it later.

HMHS Boys Basketball: Dawgs streak to impressive start

Begin 2023–24 season 7–0

The Haddonfield Memorial High School boys varsity basketball season started at home with a Colonial Conference Liberty division game. It marked the beginning of Paul Wiedeman’s 25th season (!!!) as head coach of the Dawgs. In the previous 24 seasons, Wiedeman-led teams have won five state championships and countless Colonial Conference titles. Had it not been for a few recent COVID-shortened seasons, Wiedeman would no double be on the cusp of his 600th victory with Haddonfield, but as the year began, his record stood at 557 wins to 136 losses. (And no, that’s not a typo; Wiedeman has an amazing 80% winning record.)

While the man pacing the sidelines will not be new this season for the Dawgs, high school basketball has had some rule changes across the board, so to speak, for all teams across the country. The rules were outlined at the end of May in a press release posted on the National Federation of State High School Associations’ website. The main changes center on free throws and how fouls are administered. No more will the one-and-one scenario, in which a player steps to the foul line, usually at the end of a half, be in effect. Instead of having to make his first shot in order to get a second shot, once the opposing team has committed five fouls in a quarter, the player will automatically be awarded two shots. Previously, the bonus was reached when one team had committed seven fouls in a half. Players will also be given two shots on all “common” fouls, according to the press release. A primary reason cited for the change was the chance to cut down injuries coming off rebounds and overall “rough play” that arose from one-and-one situations. While I’m all for reducing the chances for injuries on the court, I also will miss the excitement—the stress—of having a player step up to the line in a nail-bitingly close game to see if he could hit one and then another foul shot.

I asked Coach Wiedeman how he thought this rule change would impact games. “It will change strategy for sure. You might want to emphasize getting to the rim and drawing fouls sooner. Jump-shooting teams might need to change their style,” he opined. So far, in the Dawgs’ seven games, the updated rules have seemingly not affected game outcomes, but time will tell.

Haddon Heights at Haddonfield: 12/14/23

OK, back to that first game, which was against the Garnets of Haddon Heights. To highlight all of the December games I saw (six of the seven) without turning this first article into a tome, I’m going to recap each game without, in most cases, minute-by-minute descriptions. That being said, the Heights game and the one that followed versus Camden Catholic were the two closest contests of the month.

The Dawgs looked a bit discombobulated the first 16 minutes of this game, and part of that was due to the play of the Garnets. After senior forward Patrick Ryan scored the Dawgs’ first point of the game from the foul line, fellow senior forward Sam Narducci scored 2 off a steal. Heights would get the next 7, the last bucket off a Dawgs’ turnover, and were up 7–3 with just 3 minutes gone in the quarter. Thanks to a pair of 3’s from Narducci, the Dawgs went up 9–7, but a trey by the Garnets put them back in front 10–9. Another basket off a steal made it 12–9, Heights, with about 2 minutes left in the quarter. Senior forward Nate Rohlfing’s two foul shots got the Dawgs to within 1, 11–12, but the Garnets answered with a basket, and were up by 3, 14–13, as the first quarter ended.

The second quarter started off promisingly as senior guard Phil McFillin, just into the game, stole the ball, passed it to Narducci, who went up and in for 2, getting the Dawgs to within 1, 13–14. A few plays up and down the court later, Rohlfing made two more foul shots to give the Dawgs the lead 15–14 at the 6-minute mark. That lead was brief, as Heights hit a 3 to go back in front 17–15. Neither team scored for about 90 seconds until senior guard Matt Morris poached the ball and also set up Narducci, who drove in to tie the game at 17 with 4:30 left in the half. Foul shots by McFillin were followed by a field goal by the Garnets to keep the game knotted at 19. A trey by Morris made it 22–19 Dawgs, but Heights scored the last two field goals of the half and were up by 1, 23–22, as the teams headed to the locker rooms.

In the second half, the Dawgs began handling the ball better, which helped them at both ends of the court. Rohlfing scored the first 3 points of the third on a basket and then a few plays later a foul shot, but the Garnets’ basket tied the game at 25 all with 6 and change left in the quarter. Neither team was able to score from the field the next few possessions, instead adding a foul shot to their tallies and keeping the game knotted at 26 with 4:33 on the clock. It wasn’t until the 3-minute mark that the tie was broken on a 3 by Morris, making it 29–26, Haddonfield. Morris followed his trey with a 2, and Narducci’s 2 off a steal gave the Dawgs’ their biggest edge, at 33–26, with just under 2 minutes left in the third. However, the Garnets made 4 foul shots to finish off the quarter, so that 7-point lead had dwindled down to 3, 33–30, as the fourth quarter began.

In the fourth, helped by some timely 3’s, Haddon Heights would not let Haddonfield pull away. Just when the Dawgs had gone up 43–34 after two fouls by senior guard Daire Roddy, with 4:03 showing on the clock, and the Dawgs’ teenage contingency started the ever-popular “Start the buses” chant, the Garnets answered with a 3. After a 2 from Rohlfing off a feed by senior forward Zach Langan, Heights swooshed in another 3, and just that fast, it was a 5-point, two possession, 45–40 game, with 39.1 seconds left. After a 2 from Langan, Heights hit another 3 (all their threes were stunning a former Haddonfield coach in the stands, and not in a good way), and with 15.9 left, it was 47–43. Two foul shots from Roddy made it 49–43, and even though Narducci’s pickoff and basket sealed the deal, the Garnets got one last 3 in ahead of the buzzer, making the final score 51–46, Haddonfield.

Sam Narducci put in 20 for the Dawgs, and Nate Rohlfing added 11. All seven players who got int the game scored.

Camden Catholic vs. Haddonfield at Cherokee Regional High School: 12/16/23

This game was one of 13 hosted at Cherokee as part of the Jimmy V Showcase, named in honor of the great North Carolina State University men’s basketball coach and then ESPN broadcaster, Jim Valvano, who, in his final days of battling metastatic adenocarcinoma, established the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research. (If you have never seen his funny yet heart-wrenching, inspirational speech when accepting the ESPY Arthur Ashe Courage Award in 1993, in which he tells us all, “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up,” it’s more than worth a watch. It still gives me goosebumps.)  The V Foundation is one that Cherokee boys basketball head coach Eric Cassidy strongly supports in memory of his mother, who died in 2011 from breast cancer at the age of 48. Cassidy promised his mother he would do everything in his power to raise money for cancer research, and for the past 11 years, the tournament that Cherokee hosts has enabled Cassidy to do just that.

The Haddonfield–Camden Catholic game, the final one of the day, was considered the marquee matchup of the event, as preseason, both teams were ranked in the top 10, Haddonfield at #7 and Camden Catholic at #9. As longtime Haddonfield fans will know, these two teams also have a connection due to the coaching staff of the Fighting Irish, specifically head coach Matt Crawford, the son of Jim Crawford, who switched places on the bench with Matt in 2013. Although Jim (aka Skyman Crawford to 1970s’ LaSalle fans) did not play for Haddonfield, his younger brothers Mike and Dennis suited up for Haddonfield. Dennis in fact played for Dave Wiedeman, father of our current coach, and is a member of the HMHS Athletic Hall of Fame.

Although the Dawgs never trailed at the end of any of the quarters, the game in some ways was similar to the Heights’ contest. In the first quarter, the score seesawed back and forth. The Irish hit a 3 to start the game, and Sam Narducci answered. The Irish went up by 1 off the foul line, and Patrick Ryan’s foul shot tied it at 4. After a Narducci steal and basket, Camden Catholic hit another 3 to reclaim a 1-point, 7–6 ,lead with just under 5 minutes left in the first. Narducci, who would put 12 of the Dawgs’ 16 quarter points on the board, scored 4 from the line and hit another 3 before the Irish would score again with 2 and change to go, making it 13–9. Daire Roddy closed out the scoring for the first 8 minutes, giving the Dawgs a 7-point, 16–9, advantage going into the second quarter.

The next 8 minutes, the Dawgs’ points all came from the field, off a pair of 3’s from Zach Langan, another trey from Narducci, and 2’s from Narducci and Phil McFillin. At the half, the Dawgs had increased their lead to 9, up 29–20.

However, just like the Garnets wouldn’t go away, neither would, as their name implies, the Fighting Irish. By holding the Dawgs’ to 6 points, on a pair of field goals from Ryan and one from Langan, and adding 9 to their total, Camden Catholic had closed the gap to 6 points, 35–29, going into the last quarter.

Neither team scored the first few trips up and down the court until Ryan went up and in for 2 and got fouled. His foul shot put the Dawgs up again by 9, 38–29, with 6:35 remaining in the game. The Irish were not offput, as they scored 6 straight points, with a pair of field goals and a pair of foul shots, so with 3:30 on the clock, they were within 3, 38–35. Ryan hit 1–2 from the line and after nice defense by Nate Rohlfing, Matt Morris grabbed the defensive board and scored, giving the Dawgs a 41–35 edge with 2:20 to go.

After Camden Catholic made 1–2 from the line, Morris stepped to the line and hit both, upping the lead to 7, 43–36. The Irish got 1 point back on the foul line and after what looked like a horrible foul on Morris—he was standing still and a Camden Catholic player went into him—the Irish got the ball back and scored, cutting the lead to 4, 43–39 with 39.4 left. The last 5 points scored by the Dawgs came from the foul line: Narducci and Morris hit 2 and Roddy hit 1. Although the Irish got one more basket on a 3, the Dawgs, thanks to their 9 made foul shots in the quarter, hung on to win 48–42.

Sam Narducci led the Dawgs with 19 and was the only player for Haddonfield in double digits. Eighteen of Haddonfield’s 49 points came from 3’s, and all six treys came in the first half. Fourteen more were made at the foul line.

West Deptford at Haddonfield: 12/21/23

While I was enjoying the lights and Christmas magic at Longwood Gardens for a slightly belated birthday celebration on 12/19, the Dawgs were lights out at Haddon Township, where they defeated their Liberty Division rival Hawks 67–19, and all the Dawgs’ JV players got into the game. Although the Hawks certainly got pounded, the Haddon Township players might have taken some comfort when their 48-point loss ended up not being the worst conference defeat an opponent would face at the hands of Haddonfield that week. Two days later, another Liberty division member, the West Deptford Eagles, were “bald” over by the Dawgs by 59 points.

Here are the “de-tails”: In the first 8 minutes, the Dawgs outscored the Eagles by 12. Sam Narducci got 8 on a pair of treys and a field goal; Nate Rohlfing went up and in the paint three times; Patrick Ryan hit four foul shots; and Zach Langan added a bucket off an offensive board.

The second quarter got a bit uglier for the Eagles. The Dawgs poured 26 points into the basket while holding West Deptford to 8. Rohlfing continued to pound the paint, adding four more baskets. Matt Morris and Phil McFillin each contributed 9 points, and Narducci’s basket accounted for the final 2 points. Going into the half, the Dawgs were up by 31, 46–15.    

In the third quarter, the Eagles managed to put 10 on the board and the Dawgs “only” got 23 points. Narducci dominated with a pair of treys, two field goals, and a foul shot. Rohlfing could not be stopped in the paint, scoring three more times. Ryan, Roddy, and Langan each made a bucket.

In the fourth, the nonstarters came in to keep up the offensive attack, adding on 26 points. McFillin got three more baskets, and senior guard Mike Feinstein added 5 on a 3-pointer and a 2-pointer. Sophomore guard Mike Douglas hit a 3 and a pair of foul shots; sophomore forward Chris Beane made some pretty moves under the rim to add 6 points; and sophomore forward Jack McKeever hit a 2. I will fully admit that I got the most excited in the fourth quarter when freshman forward Ryan Guveiyian got his first varsity basket as a Dawg, as I have known Ryan since he was a baby, just like I have his older bro and former basketball player Matthew, and current senior Andrew, who just finished up an outstanding season on the soccer field.

When the final horn sounded, the Dawgs had soundly defeated the Eagles 95–36. Sam Narducci led the way with 21 points, Nate Rohlfing knocked in 20, and Phil McFillin added 15. The seven nonstarters who scored contributed 42 of those 95 points. In total, 12 Dawgs at least one basket.

Atlantic City Institute of Technology at Haddonfield: 12/22/23

Teams with bird mascots have not fared too well against the Dawgs so far this season, as the  Red Hawks of ACIT will attest. While the Red Hawks got the first 2 of the game, the 6:18 mark of the first quarter was the one and only time they would have the lead. Sam Narducci answered with a 3, and after a pickoff by Zach Langan, Nate Rohlfing followed with a 2. After another turnover by the Red Hawks, Narducci hit another 3 to make it 8­–2 Dawgs with 5:10 on the clock.

ACIT got its own 3, to get back to within 3, 8–5, but Rohlfing hit a jumper after a nice boxout and defensive rebound, and Daire Roddy’s steal and pass to Narducci pushed the lead back to 7, 12–5. Patrick Ryan got in on the scoring to make it 14–5 before the Red Hawks got another basket. Rohlfing went up and in for 2, and the Red Hawks’ 3 made it 16–10 with 1:59 to go in the quarter. That would be ACIT’s last basket of the quarter, but the Dawgs would put up 7 more points on a foul shot by Narducci, an offensive board and basket by Rohlfing, and another Roddy-to-Narducci play. As the quarter ended, the Dawgs were up by 13, 23–10.

The situation did not improve for the Red Hawks in the next 8 minutes. They managed to put 7 on the board to the Dawgs’ 18. Matt Morris, Phil McFillin, and Mike Douglas came into the game and accounted for 9 of those 18 points. Rohlfing and Narducci each made another field goal, and Langan got a 2 and 3. At the half, the Red Hawks were in the red by 24, down 41–17.

In the third quarter Narducci alone outshot the Red Hawks, going on a tear, knocking down five treys along with two 2’s. Langan added another 3, and Rohlfing got two more baskets in the paint. With a foul shot by Ryan, the Dawgs had poured in 27 points to ACIT’s 8 and were cruising going into the fourth, ahead by several touchdowns, 68–25.

The nonstarters came in for the last 8 minutes and once again, there was no offensive letup. Morris took over for Narducci, making a pair of 3’s, four foul shots, and a 2. McFillin got three baskets and a foul shot, and Douglas got another 2. Mike Feinstein and Chase Stadler each had a 2 and Ryan Guveiyian dropped in a 3. When the buzzer sounded, the Dawgs had won their fifth straight game, , winning by 58, 96–38.

Sam Narducci, who knocked down seven 3’s, finished with an impressive 32 points. Nate Rohlfing’s hard work in the paint got him 16 points. And coming off the bench for good minutes were Matt Morris, who knocked in 15, and Phil McFillin, who added in 11. This time, the nonstarters contributed 37 of the Dawgs’ total points, and 10 players scored at least one basket.

Haddons Invitational—Pemberton Township High School at Haddonfield: 12/27/23

Maybe any team with winged mascots, not just birds, will have a tough time against the Dawgs this year, as the Pemberton Township Hornets would feel the sting of Haddonfield’s offense next. At the onset, though, compared to the previous games, the Dawgs were not putting a lot of balls in the net. Instead, to the aggravation of the fans near me, including the coach and two members of the 1973 state championship basketball team, the Dawgs were turning the ball over more than turning on the offense. This was enabling the Hornets to stay close the first 8 minutes of the game. Even so, Nate Rohlfing’s three buckets under the basket and 2’s from Patrick Ryan and Sam Narducci had the Dawgs out in front by 2, 10–8, as the first quarter ended.

And then it was like a switch was flipped. While turnovers were still more than desired, the offense, spurred by the entry of Matt Morris and Phil McFillin onto the court, came on strong. Morris, often fed by McFillin, made five baskets. Mike Douglas was also a shot in the arm offensively and defensively, as he caused trouble for the Hornets at their end of the court and added a 2 and 3 into the quarter’s tally. McFillin and Narducci also nailed 3’s, and Rohlfing got another field goal in the paint. When the teams headed into the locker room at the half, the Dawgs’ 2-point lead had stretched into a 21-point lead, as the team held the Hornets to 4 points in the second quarter.

In the third, the Dawgs’ scoring barrage slowed a bit, as five players tallied 13 points, including treys from Narducci and Zack Langan. The biggest moment of the third came with 30.4 seconds remaining. That’s when Narducci went down hard after what I think was a pickoff attempt. He remained on the floor for a few minutes, and when he was able to rise, he had to be assisted over to the trainer’s table by two teammates, where he remained for the rest of the game. At last report from one of my inside sources, he had been diagnosed with a high ankle sprain and was sporting a boot. It is unlikely at this writing that Narducci will be back in the lineup before the upcoming weekend matchup versus Moorestown.

Because the Dawgs held the Hornets to 6 third-quarter points, they were still up by 28, 46–18, going into the final 8 minutes. The fourth was McFillin’s quarter, as he scored a pair of 2’s and made three foul shots for 7 of the Dawgs’ 18 points. The Hornets finally got buzzing offensively, putting 17 on the board, but it was a case of too little too late. When the clock hit 0:00, the Dawgs had won their sixth straight by a score of 64–35. Matt Morris led all Dawg scorers with 12. Phil McFillin had 11, and Sam Narducci and Nate Rohlfing each added 10.

Haddons Invitational—Egg Harbor Township at Haddonfield: 12/29/23

This was the first game I had to stream this season. And it took some effort because I was unaware that the HMHS athletic department had switched streaming services. While archived games from past seasons can still be accessed on the Dawgs’ YouTube channel, to watch this season’s home games live or after the fact requires the use of the Hudl app. Via your computer or smartphone, you can go directly to the Dawgs’ channel: https://fan.hudl.com/usa/nj/haddonfield/organization/17513/haddonfield-high-school/team/174962/Haddonfield-Boys–Varsity-Basketball/video. From your smart TV, it’s a bit more complicated (at least I haven’t found a shortcut yet): After you add the channel, you have to move to the top line toolbar, where you can choose high school. Then you have to scroll (left to right) to select a state. Once you have clicked on New Jersey, you can look for current (or upcoming within the next day) games by school or go to the second row, labeled Recent, and search for Haddonfield boys or girls. (I just noticed that the game versus Pemberton Township on Friday is mislabeled as being versus Clearview, but if you click on the arrow, it is the Hornets’ game.)

OK, now that those important instructions have been shared, remember what I said about teams with winged mascots?? This second game for the Dawgs in the Haddons Invitational (which consisted of two days of games, not just featuring the Haddonfield girls and boys varsity but teams from the area) was against the Eagles of Egg Harbor Township. The winged mascot “curse” did not come into play early on, as the Eagles got off to a 4–0 start before Phil McFillin, who made an earlier than usual entrance into the game, got the Dawgs on the board at the 3:23 mark. The Eagles landed another basket to go back up by 4, 6–2, before Patrick Ryan grabbed an offensive rebound and went up and in. McFillin would tie it at 6 with 1:46 left in the quarter, and then a few plays later, put the Dawgs up by 2, 8–6, from the foul line. The Eagles got the last shot off, a 3, and the quarter ended with Egg Harbor on top by 1, 9–8.

In the second, Matt Morris, who started in place of Sam Narducci, notched a 3 to give the Dawgs a 2-point, 11–9, lead with less than 30 seconds gone. After a 2 by Egg Harbor tied it with 7:01 on the clock, Mike Douglas nailed a 3 to make it 14–11, Dawgs, in Haddonfield’s next possession. McFillin stretched that advantage to 6 with a 3, but the Eagles responded with their own trey, making it 17–14, Dawgs, with 5:41 to go until the half.

About 30 seconds ticked off the clock before Nate Rohlfing went 1–2 from the line to make it 18–14, Haddonfield. Neither team could get a ball in the net for the next 2 minutes. Ryan broke the mini-scoring drought with a basket, but seconds later, the Eagles got a 2, getting back to within 4, 20–16, with 3:10 showing on the scoreboard. Douglas swooshed in his second 3 of the quarter to give the Dawgs their largest lead of the game, 23–16, with 2:39 left in the half. That would be the last basket of the quarter for Haddonfield, but Egg Harbor got 2 from the floor and 1 from the foul line to close the deficit to 4, 20–16, as the half came to a close.

That 4-point gap was reduced to 2 when Egg Harbor got the first basket of the third quarter at the 7:13 mark. Ryan was fouled after rebounding his own missed shot and made 1–2 from the line. Aftre traveling was called on Egg Harbor, Rohlfing scored on a feed from Ryan, and the Dawgs had edged their lead up to 5, 26–21, with 5:50 left in the quarter. After securing a defensive board, Ryan scored off a pass from Rohlfing to re-establish the Dawgs’ 7-point, putting them up 28–21.

The Eagles got 2 back from the foul line and 2 back from the floor and were back to within 3, 28–25, with just under 5 minutes left in the quarter. Another Rohlfing-to-Ryan play made it 30–23, Haddonfield, with 4 minutes and change left. The Eagles scored, then Morris scored, keeping it a 5-point, 32–27 Dawgs’ edge with 2:34 on the clock. A defensive board by Rohlfing led to another 2 by Morris, pushing the Dawgs back to a 7-point, 34–27, lead with 2:03 to go. A 3 by the Eagles followed McFillin’s 1–2 from the line would be the last point of the quarter, so going into the last 8 minutes of the game, the Dawgs had a lead, but not necessarily a comfortable one, at 35–30.

Although the Eagles would not go quietly, putting 13 more points on the board in the fourth, Morris and McFillin kept the Dawgs out in front. Morris knocked down a 3 and scored two other baskets. McFillin hit a 3 and a 2. Douglas added 3 on a bucket and a foul shot, and Langan also had 2. When the game was over, the Dawgs remained undefeated in the first month of the season, defeating the Egg Harbor Eagles by 11, 54–43. Phil McFillin finished with 15, Matt Morris was right behind him with 14, and Patrick Ryan added 11.

Looking Ahead

The boys start off the New Year with a 7 p.m. Wednesday away game at Paulsboro on 1/3, then host the Sterling at home on Friday, 1/5, at home. Saturday, they play Moorestown at 10:30 at Moorestown. (The original schedule said the game was versus Moorestown but at Holy Spirit, but that has been adjusted to indicate the game is at Moorestown High School.) Let’s hope the Dawgs keep up their winning ways against teams with and without winged mascots!

Haddonfield Memorial High School Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients 2023

James E. Smith

Jim Smith is a 1980 graduate of HMHS. He distinguished himself in high school as both a student and an athlete. By the time of his graduation, Jim had established nearly every distance record at HMHS in track and cross country. Among his most memorable achievements was Jim’s Meet of Champions victory in 1979, which has been called one of the greatest races in New Jersey cross-country history.

Jim’s high school achievements were the foreshadowing of an exceptional university experience at Stanford and the career achievements that were to follow. He earned his Bachelor of Science with distinction and Master of Science degrees in electrical engineering and a PhD in engineering-economic systems at Stanford University. He was inducted into the Tau Beta Pi and Phi Betta Kappa honor societies. During his undergraduate days, he was a scholarship athlete earning varsity letters ever year in cross-country and track and field. Jim was captain of the 1982 and 1983 cross-country teams and the 1984 track team. In 1984, he competed in the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials. Along the way Jim set the Stanford school record in the 1500 meter run and was named to the South Jersey Track and Field Hall of Fame.

Today, James E. Smith is the Jack Byrne Distinguished Professor in Decision Science, a position that falls within Dartmouth College’s Jack Byrne Academic Cluster in Mathematics and Decision Science. The Jack Byrne cluster focuses on developing and applying mathematical thinking to societal challenges in fields such as health care, transportation, and manufacturing.

Before moving to Dartmouth, Jim was the J.B. Fuqua Distinguished Professor in Decision Science at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University from 2009 to 2018. He served on Duke’s faculty from 1990-2018. During those nearly thirty years he has taught courses in probability and statistics, decision models, and decision analysis. He has been recognized repeatedly for his excellence as a teacher. Jim received the outstanding faculty award from Duke’s MBA classes in 1993 and 2000 and was a finalist for the award in 1992, 1995 and 1998. He was also twice cited for teaching awards for core courses in 2010 and 2014. He has been honored by Duke with the Bank of America Faculty Award in 2004. This award is Fuqua School’s highest faculty honor and is given for outstanding contributions to the school in terms of teaching, research, leadership, and service.

Professor Brian Tomlin, Jim’s colleague at Dartmouth observed, “I was ecstatic when we convinced Jim to leave Duke and join Dartmouth. I already knew Jim was an exceptional researcher. We also got an exceptional teacher. An MBA student at Dartmouth was asked by a reporter what her favorite course was. Her response: “Analytics with Professor Jim Smith. Analytics is a notoriously challenging first-year course, but Jim did an incredible job breaking down concepts and encouraging each of us to keep trying and keep supporting each other in our learning journeys.”

Professor Smith’s research interests center on decision analysis. He has published some thirty-nine papers in juried journals. In 2008, he received the Frank P. Ramsey Medal for distinguished contributions to the decision analysis field. He was named a William and Sue Gross Distinguished Research Scholar. On four occasions he has been recognized by INFORMS for the best publication on Decision Analysis (1995, 1997, 2000, 2013).

Jim has provided extensive external service to his profession. He currently serves on the editorial boards of Management Science, Operations Research, and Decision Analysis. He is active with INFORMS’ Decision Analysis Society and served as its president from 2008-10. He has served on numerous advisory panels, research councils and committees especially related to energy and energy efficiency. Similarly, Jim has served on over thirty university task forces, committees and panels at Duke and Dartmouth.

Professor David Brown who was recruited to Duke University by Jim and counts him as a mentor shared this thought, ”An Einstein quote that reminds me of Jim is, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. Jim’s career revolves around thinking deeply and clearly about highly complex problems, and he is exceptional at it. Learning to distill the complex into the simple is invaluable for educators and thought leaders. Jim’s mentorship has taught me that and so much more. He is a person of great accomplishment and integrity, who is remarkably down to earth. He is widely respected as a scholar, mentor, teacher and friend.”

Jim lives in Norwich Vermont with his wife Lori Carswell. Lori currently works at Vermont Adult Learning, helping people earn their high school diplomas or GED.

Jim and Lori have two daughters: Alison, 30, is a second-year medical resident in internal medicine at Duke University. Casey, 28, is a lawyer with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project and lives in Brooklyn.


Nancy Kirby

Nancy Kirby, a 1956 HMHS alumna touches our past in some unique ways. Born in Haddonfield, she attended an integrated kindergarten, and moved on to the still-segregated two-room Lincoln Avenue School. She attributes her excellence as a student to her tutelage under a revered Haddonfield educator, Mrs. Theresa Marvel Dansbury.

At HMHS, she surprised her high school guidance counselors by applying and being accepted with a full scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania. Her mother had other plans for Nancy, and she attended Bennett, an historically black women’s college, in Greensboro, NC. It was here that she took her first powerful steps as a civil rights advocate.

Nancy was a member of the NAACP chapter that was active at Bennett. When a group of four male students from North Carolina A and T were denied service at a local Woolworth’s lunch counter, the women from Bennett’s NAACP chapter organized the sit-in that followed. Despite her mother and grandmother’s directive to stay out of it, warning that, “We already have tickets to graduation”, Nancy followed her conscience, participated in the sit-in and was arrested for disorderly conduct, trespassing, and disturbing the peace.

She graduated from Bennett College in 1960 with a dual major in psychology and sociology. Nancy took her first position with the New Jersey Bureau of Child Services supporting families in crisis. Her work with parents helped many families avoid having children placed in the foster care system.

While working in that role, Nancy earned her Master in Social Science from the Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research in 1965. She moved on to Temple Hospital where she served five years as a social worker supporting maternal and infant care and was later promoted to Head Social Worker for Outpatient Services at Temple. Nancy was offered an opportunity in women’s reproductive health and moved on to serve as the Director of Social Services at Planned Parenthood Philadelphia for three years.

In the early 1970’s, Nancy began working at the college and university level. She accepted a faculty appointment in the Department of Sociology at Beaver College, now Arcadia University. She was the first African-American to be offered tenure at Beaver. In 1979, Bryn Mawr College beckoned and she spent the next thirty-one years at the college, teaching, supervising students in field placements, and as Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions at Bryn Mawr’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research until her retirement in 2010.

One example of Nancy’s advocacy for students was offered by Philadelphia’s Poet Laureate, Trapeta Mayson who delivered the commencement address for Bryn Mawr’s 2021 graduate degree recipients. In her speech, Ms. Mayson spoke of the grace and kindness she and her sister received as social work graduate students in the mid ’90s, and especially the grace offered by then-admissions director Nancy Kirby, who “looked at me and my sister and … didn’t see us as needy Black girls from a poor neighborhood with an ill mother,” but as “two smart young women who would add value to this College.”

Nancy Kirby has been taking care of people from womb to tomb her entire adult life. In addition to her fifty-year career in social work, she has engaged in extensive community service which reflects an ongoing involvement with advocacy and commitment to social justice issues. She has been a board member for several not-for-profit organizations including Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania and Spectrum Health Services Inc. She has been a trustee for Inglis House that enables people with disabilities and their caregivers to live life to the fullest. Similarly, she served the UUHouse Outreach Program that works on behalf of adults over 60 to achieve independence and dignity living at home. As a trustee with the Valentine Foundation, she and her fellow trustees identified and nurtured organizations that empowered young women and girls. Her commitment to these organizations has been longstanding including her nearly 29-year commitment to the Douty Foundation, where as a trustee she supports “an organization that fosters equitable opportunities for children and youth.”

Nancy resides in Haverford, PA and continues to serve as a docent for her church, Mother Bethel AME at 6 th and Lombard in Philadelphia which sits on the oldest parcel of land continuously owned by African Americans in the United States.


Dyann Waugh

Dr. Dyann Waugh is a 1964 graduate of Haddonfield Memorial High School. Her father, Dr. Bascom Waugh, was the first African-American doctor to join the medical staff at Cooper in 1950. A World War II Veteran, Dr. Waugh was a flight surgeon for the 332nd Fighter Group, the legendary Tuskegee Airmen. He practiced medicine in Camden for over forty years and his family settled in Haddonfield in 1952.

At HMHS Dyann flourished in her study of Latin, French, Biology and English. She acknowledged that Physics and Chemistry were the bane of her high school career, so much so that she “kinda gave up on that dream” of becoming a physician.

At American University, Dr. Waugh earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology and was admitted to a Ph.D. program in that field. Deferring her decision for graduate school, Dyann and her husband joined the Peace Corps in 1969. She was sent to a small rural village in Kenya, some fifty miles from the nearest city. She taught English for two years at a “harambe” school built by the villagers, supervised local census takers for the 1969 Kenya Census and administered immunizations in the smallpox eradication project. Dyann shared that, “This was a very formative experience for me, I had the opportunity to work in a different culture…and it gave me time to think about what I wanted to do when I got back.”

Her return led her to graduate school at the University of Maryland, College Park where she completed a Master of Science in Nutrition in 1973. She began consulting with physicians and crafting dietary improvement plans for young professionals. Although the work was gratifying, she sensed that she would be taken more seriously if she had a medical degree. Returning to school, Dr. Waugh earned her Doctor of Medicine degree in 1977 from Howard University. Six years later she would add to her impressive credentials with a second Master of Science in Occupational Health from Johns Hopkins.

Occupational and environmental medicine focuses on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of occupation and environment related illnesses. Dr. Waugh’s early career in occupational medicine involved work with local hospitals in Baltimore and with OSHA before moving to the United States Postal Service in 1987. Her career at USPS spanned some thirty-two years with Dyann assuming increasing responsibility moving from Medical Officer, Associate Area Medical Director, Senior Medical Director and Associate Medical Director responsible for several states including Florida, Mississippi and Alabama.

Her expertise in occupational and environmental medicine has led her to shoulder responsibilities associated with some major challenges that the nation has faced including terrorist threats, biohazard detection, and NARCAN distribution. In 2001, Dr. Waugh was recognized with the Vice President’s Award which recognizes “superior contributions or individual achievement deserving of system wide recognition” for her work related to the anthrax attack and the subsequent shut down, clean-up and reopening of the DC post office. Her colleague, Dr. Devesh Karjanpane, characterized this as a monumental undertaking. He wrote, “Dr. Waugh has the skills of a master stateswoman. She brought greatly differing parties to a collaborative agreement without compromising sound medical principles. Dr. Waugh’s compassion extended impartially, and winning the game was just not the primary objective. Doing right was.”

After her retirement from the USPS, Dr. Waugh continued to practice medicine including time as an Occupational Medicine Consultant for USPS during the pandemic.

Dyann remains very active in her community of Hyattsville, MD. She is a member of the Health Ministry and Gospel Choir at First United Methodist Church; performs with Rafiki na Dada, an a capella women’s group that sings songs of the African diaspora, serves as a board member for ECO City Farms and participates in the Bridging Cultural Gaps Book Club of Hyattsville. Dyann also serves her community as a member of the Hyattsville Health, Wellness and Recreation Committee, where she has organized presentations on the health effects of climate change, plant-based eating, indoor air pollution, and mental health first aid training for residents.

Through her long and distinguished career Dr. Waugh has made the time to be a nurturing mother to her now grown children and the life companion to her husband, the Honorable Mayor Robert Croslin, of Hyattsville, MD.


Jack O’Malley

Jack O’Malley ’81 was a multi-sport athlete at HMHS who earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Dickinson University in 1985. His career path took him into the business world where he has carved out a highly successful career in sales.

From 1985-1995, Jack rose to Sales Manager at Lever Brothers and was recognized as District Salesman of the Year, Unit Manager of the Year, and Acme Markets Vendor of the Year. Over the next several years, Jack was employed by a Colgate Palmolive subsidiary where he was an award-winning Business Development Manager and later Regional Sales Director.

Declining an opportunity to move with the company to Texas, he remained local working for Bayer in Sales Management. He earned several more awards for his work including the President’s Star Award as the top field sales manager in the US.

Jack is also co-owner of John F. O’Malley LLC, a fourth-generation transportation company that moves the luggage and equipment of the Phillies and visiting teams between the airport and stadium.

While all the above makes for a very successful busines career, there are few lifelong residents of Haddonfield, who have contributed as much service or volunteered as selflessly as Jack O’Malley. Since 1992, he has coached numerous youth sports teams, including those of his children, but also many teams on which his own children didn’t play, including Little League, Pigtail Softball, Youth Basketball, Youth Soccer, Youth Football and Haddonfield girls’ travel basketball teams.

While coaching, Jack has also been an active member of several athletics-based boards in town, including the HMHS Athletic Hall of Fame Committee (committee member since 2006 and President since 2011); Haddonfield Youth Soccer Board Vice President (1998 – 2013); Haddonfield Youth Basketball Association, HYBA (2001-present), Founding Member and was Vice President; Haddonfield Recreation Council (2000 – present) and finally board member for Haddonfield Youth Football and Cheerleading (2012 – 2014).

In addition to volunteering for sports-related organizations, Jack has served on numerous committees and boards including the BOE formed Community Budget Advisory Committee (CBAC) of which he was a member from 2008-2010 and helped create our Drexel Partnership and reinstitute Tuition Student Programs; the Turf Field Committee from 2010–2013, where he helped raise more than $600,000 for two turf fields at HMHS; the “One Haddonfield” committee in support of the Bancroft Referendum that was defeated by a narrow margin (2013), of which he was a founder and Chairman; The Haddonfield Civic Association (2014 – present); The Boxwood Hall Committee (2016-2017, a group of dedicated local citizens looking to create an Performing Arts Center at the current vacant property). Most recently Jack has served as a Board Member for The Haddonfield Foundation (2018 – Present), including assuming the role of President in 2020. Jack’s dedication and countless hours of service to civic causes was recognized by the Haddonfield Civic Association in 2014 who presented him with the Alfred E. Driscoll Community Service Award.

Jack also serves as a Deacon at The First Presbyterian Church of Haddonfield. In his work with the church, Jack has organized, chaperoned and helped fund the First Presbyterian Youth Mission trips annually since 2015. In 2023, Jack led the youth mission volunteers to rural central Appalachia where they spent a week repairing homes for low-income families. Lisa Wolschina, local businesswoman and past lifetime achievement award winner said, “Jack O’Malley has a special gift of finding some common ground/thread with anybody so all people can feel comfortable around him. I spent a week with him this past summer on a mission trip to Tennessee.  Thanks to Jack, I learned about ripping up floors, I cried for people in very difficult situations, and I laughed every day. This world needs more Jack O’Malley’s.“

Outside of local community service, Jack is also an ardent supporter of Autism Speaks, helping team “Rally for O’Malley” raise over $300,000 for autism research since 1999. He is also a long- time member at Tavistock Country Club and serves on both the Entertainment and Golf Committees.

Jack and his wife Ginger have 3 children: Paige, 30 (Philadelphia), Johnny, 29 (Haddonfield), and Patrick, 26 (Chicago). Fortunately for us, he continues to reside in Haddonfield.


Ari Palitz

Ari Palitz spent the first eleven years of his life growing up as a city kid. He lived on 86 th Street in Manhattan surrounded by four movie theaters that would leave a lasting impression on him. Growing up on Star Wars and Superman, he knew he wanted to be a storyteller.

Ari came to Haddonfield and spent six years of his middle and high school education in the Haddonfield Public Schools. He went on to the University of Pittsburgh graduating in 1996 with a major in film and communications.

With a group of his Pitt friends, he moved to New York intent on making his mark in the film industry. He attended the Robert Di Niro School of Film while trying to break into the business. Ari acknowledged that the biggest challenge was “getting in the loop”, meeting and connecting with other working film and production professionals, finding consistent work and learning on the job. “We were all willing to be the guy who just gets coffee, if that got our foot in the door”.

Much of his early work was as a production assistant and then later a producer and director of music videos and commercials. He also began to produce and direct short films such as “Another Day in the Life” for MTV, and Temple Street Blues.

In 2000, Ari moved to Hollywood. As an independent filmmaker, Ari produced a low-budget action thriller called Pit Fighter. Universal Studios liked his work and offered him a contract. He produced his first of thirteen feature films in 2002 at Universal Studios where he also directed Unbeatable Harold in 2005. Soon after Palitz teamed up with director, Zak Penn for the mockumentary, The Grand, starring Woody Harrelson.

In 2010, Ari returning to his music video roots, produced the live action elements for Arcade Fire’s “The Wilderness Downtown,” directed by Chris Milk.  This interactive video went on to win the Gran Prix at the 2011 Cannes advertising awards in the Cyber category as well as the FWA (favorite website of the year) Award.  It became a turning point for Ari, who turned his full creative energy to working with new technologies like virtual reality.

Some of his most powerful pieces of film have come from his work as a producer in Branded Documentary that encompass both strong story and high production value, including the Toyota film series that documented the journey of NASA’s Shuttle Endeavor through the streets of LA, which won four Golden Lion awards, Shaun White’s documentary “Road to Sochi” for NBC, Producer of Hank: Five Years From The Brink.

Ari made a significant mark in the world of Virtual Reality story-telling, working as a producer with Here Be Dragons, Clouds over Sidra, Waves of Grace, “The Possible” series, U2’s “Song for Someone”, New York Times “Take Flight”, and 30 episodes of TRVLR for Discovery VR and Google.

Ari is also the co-director of the virtual reality documentaries, “My Mother’s Wing”, “Ground Beneath Her”, “Listening to the Universe” and, “The Last Goodbye” which premiered at the Tribeca and Venice Film Festivals in 2017 and in 2018. The Last Goodbye’s concept was both simple and ambitious: to have a concentration camp survivor, Pinchas Gutter, guide the viewer in a tour of Madjanek Concentration Camp in Poland where Pinchas was interned over seven decades ago. This film won the Lumiere Award for Best VR Documentary Jury Prize, 2 Webbys and the AICP Next Award for Virtual Reality.

In February, 2020, the Time Warner film, The March had its debut at the DuSable Museum of African American History. Ari served as lead producer for this immersive virtual-reality project and museum exhibition, which offers audiences an unprecedented opportunity to experience the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. In partnership with the Estate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which granted development rights to TIME for the project, The March marks the first-ever virtual depiction of Dr. King.

Over the past two years Ari has served StoryFiles as its Chief Creative Officer. StoryFiles is the inventor of conversational video and has recently created interactive projects with Mother Fletcher and Mother Randle, the oldest surviving witnesses of the Tulsa Massacre, as well as with Andrew Young and Star Trek’s William Shatner.

Continuing to experiment with virtual reality, conversational video and AI, Ari directed “Lovebirds of the Twin Towers” (2021) and Tell Me Inge (2023) (an interactive conversation with a holocaust survivor).

He currently serves as the Founder and CEO of Narrator Studio. With his wife and two daughters, he currently resides in Tulsa, OK where he continues to do ground-breaking work.