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HMHS Boys Basketball: 2023–24 Season in Review

By Lauree Padgett / Exclusive to Haddonfield[dot]Today

In a 30-game season in which the Dawgs won 90% of their games, with a 27–3 overall record, a 12–0 record in the Liberty division of the Colonial Conference, and a total sweep of the Colonial at large, not to mention the Dawgs defeating their first 21 opponents, there are going to be a lot of highlights! Here are the ones (“wons”) that stand out for me in (mostly) chronological order.

• December 14: In the first game of the season, the host Dawgs beat nemesis Haddon Heights but only by 5 points, 51–46. The Dawgs were trailing at the half by a point, but took a 3-point, 33–30, lead into the fourth and hung on to start the season 1–0. Senior Sam Narducci poured in 20 points, and his two first-quarter 3’s kept the Garnets from having a bigger halftime lead. In the Colonial rematch at Heights on January 25, the game was never in question. The Dawgs were up by double digits, 19–8, after 1, 44–21 at the half, and really stifled the Garnet student section with a blowout 83–32 win. Eleven Dawgs contributed to those 83 points, and the top-scoring Dawgs, seniors Phil McFillin (21), Matt Morris (19), and Narducci (13), finished with more points collectively than the Garnets.

• December 16: In the Jimmy V Classic at Cherokee versus Camden Catholic, the Dawgs led in all four quarters against the Irish, but the second half got a bit close. The Dawgs went into the third quarter up by 9, but the Irish cut that to 6 by the end of the third. With 3:30 left in the game, Camden Catholic got to within 3, 38–35, but Matt Morris helped to keep the Irish at bey, scoring a basket after Patrick Ryan had gotten a point back from the foul line. That made it a 6-point game again. The Irish would get within 4 with 39.4 seconds on the clock, but Sam Narducci made 2 foul shots, Daire Roddy made 1, and Morris closed out the scoring with a pair at the line as well, as the Dawgs held on to win 48–42. Unfortunately, the Irish would have more luck against the Dawgs in the Camden County tournament in February.

• December 19, 21, and 22: In their next three games, the Dawgs beat their opponents (Haddon Township, West Deptford, and Atlantic City Institute of Technology) by 48, 59, and 58 points, respectively. In the latter two games, the Dawgs scored 95 and 96 points. Amazingly, their 59-point thrashing of the Eagles of West Deptford would not be the most points tallied or the widest margin of victory of their 27 wins.

• January 3 and 5: In the new year, the Dawgs kept streaking along against Colonial rivals. Paulsboro is almost always a tough matchup on the Red Raiders’ home turf. However, the only time the Red Raiders were ahead this game was after a bucket on their first possession put them in front by 2. From there on in, it was all Haddonfield. The Dawgs got the next 7 points, and were up by 8, 12–4, at the 3:20 mark. The Red Raiders’ 3 at the end of the quarter got them to within 4, 14–10, and they got the first basket of the second to make it a 1-point game before the Dawgs started pulling away. They won by 18, 43–25. A few nights later, the Silver Knights of Sterling galloped into Haddonfield, but it was the Dawgs who rode to a 28-point, 67–39, win. Matt Morris and Sam Narducci each put 20 on the board.

• January 8: The Lindenwold Lions would become part of history, but end up on the wrong end of it, at Haddonfield. This night, the Dawgs broke a school record previously held by the 1989 squad, coached by Dave Wiedeman and led on the court by son Paul. The 1989 team had put up 108 points to Haddon Township’s 63, winning by 45 points. With both Zach Langan and Nate Rohlfing on the bench from the outset, every other varsity and JV player—12 total—saw playing time. Nine of them helped the Dawgs rack up 121 points to Lindenwold’s 50. So not only did the Dawgs break that 1989 record for points scored, surpassing the previous winning amount by 13, they also held the Lions to 26 fewer points than what Haddon Township put up against the ’89 team. The Dawgs put 38 points on the board in the first, were leading by 34, 62–28, at the half, and had 99 points going into the fourth, so a 100-plus total was inevitable. Still, seeing 121 on the scoreboard when the final buzzer sounded was pretty amazing. Sam Narducci and Matt Morris outscored the Lions by themselves, 52–50. Fifteen of Narducci’s 30 points came off of 3’s, and Morris had four treys of his own to finish with 22. Patrick Ryan and Phil McFillin also hit double figures, scoring 19 and 17 points, respectively.

• January 20: The Dawgs were the “home” team against the Pitman Tigers at Paul VI’s Winter Classic. This game is noteworthy not just because of its outcome but because Pitman would go on to win the Group 1 South Jersey title before losing in the state semifinals and finishing with a 23–8 record. On this occasion, the Tigers would not play at their highest level, thanks to tough D by their opponents and Sam Narducci’s tremendous first-half offense. Thanks to his 12 points in the first and 10 more in the second, Narducci and Pitman were tied at the half, but the Dawgs were up by 24, 46–24. In the second half, Patrick Ryan took over where Narducci left off, scoring eight baskets in the paint. The Dawgs would bury the Tigers by a score of 88–50. Narducci finished with 32, Ryan added 20, and Matt Morris knocked in 13.

• February 1: Haddonfield kept rolling along in the Colonial. The Dawgs’ game at West Deptford would be their 13th in the conference. Although this would not be quite the blowout as the teams’ first matchup in December, Haddonfield still won handily, 79–44. Nate Rohlfing was busy in the paint all night, scoring 11 times and ending up with 24. Matt Morris hit five 3’s and added 17, and Phil McFillin had 13. The biggest story of this game, however, was that it marked Haddonfield’s 21st straight victory of the season without a loss.

• February 6: This game versus Paulsboro came on the heels of the Dawgs’ first defeat of the year, a 35–52 loss to Central Regional High School during the Holy Cross Academy Showdown. It was also Senior Night at Haddonfield, so if there had been any doubt how the Dawgs would respond, the “elite eight,” as I christened the seniors, erased them. Along with their 14 first-quarter points, the Dawgs held the Red Raiders to 2 points on the defensive end. By the half, the Dawgs had more than tripled the Raiders’ total and were up by 32–10. The final score would be 73–29. Senior Mike Feinstein, who saw playing time during all four quarters, swooshed in four treys and shared the scoring lead with Nate Rohlfing at 14.   

• February 8: This was the last Colonial Conference contest of the year and it was at Sterling. The Silver Knight student section, always admirably out in full force supporting their team, whether home or away, thought the Knights were going to put it to the Dawgs. In”steed,” the Dawgs would eventually have another easy win. That being said, most of the first half was a seesaw ride. After the Dawgs started out in front, Sterling went on a run and had a 5–8 and then a 7–10 lead. Haddonfield came back to put up the last 4 points, 2 from the foul line by Patrick Ryan and 2 from the floor by Nate Rohlfing, to go up 11–10. The Knights returned the favor at the start of the second, scoring 4 in a row to retake the lead 14–11. A Matt Morris 3 tied it, the Dawgs would fall behind again, tie it, go ahead, then have a 3 by the Knights put them up again by 1, 18–19. Zach Langan’s 3 would give the Dawgs a 21–19 edge with 2:26 on the clock, and they never gave up the lead after that. The final score was 67–38. Morris had 20, Rohlfing and Phil McFillin (who had a bit of interaction with the Sterling student section after some big third quarter 3’s) added 13 each, and Langan put up 12. This win gave the Dawgs not only a clean, 10–0, sweep of the Liberty division, they finished 15–0 in overall conference play.

• February 10, 12, and 14: The Dawgs went 2–3 in the Camden County tournament this year. After getting a first-round bye, the Dawgs hosted the Winslow Township Eagles in the second round. This was a pretty typical game for the Dawgs. They outscored the Eagles 9–1 to start the game and were up by 16, 20–4, after 1 period. The halftime score was Haddonfield 36, Winslow Township 13. At the end of the third, the Dawgs had more than doubled the Eagles, ahead by 28, 51–23, and won by 36, 67–31. Sophomore Mike Douglas scored 16 points and Nate Rohlfing put up 15. Two days later, in the third round versus the Cherry Hill West Lions at Eastern Regional High School, Rohlfing would put on a defensive show of force. It was a good thing, too, because this match would be a much closer one. There were a lot of ties in the first 8 minutes. The Lions even pulled ahead twice. About halfway through the quarter, they went up 5–7, and after baskets by Daire Roddy and Patrick Ryan put the Dawgs back in front 10–9,  the Lions recaptured the lead off a 3, 10–9, with 1:27 on the clock. A response 3 by Sam Narducci and a 2 by Rohlfing in between a Lion foul shot put the Dawgs up 14–11, which is how the quarter ended. The second 8 minutes also went back and forth. The Lions got the first 5 points to go up by 1, 15–14, but a bucket by Narducci gave the Dawgs back the lead. Just when it looked like the Dawgs were taking control of the game, going up by 7, 24–17 on a waaaay out there 3 by Narducci with 2:49 left, the Lions got 5 of the last 7 points and were within 4, 26–44, at the half. The third quarter was even tighter. Although the Lions never went ahead, they got to within 1 twice and a pair of foul shots brought them to within 2, 38–36, going into the final 8 minutes. The Lions kept pawing away in the fourth. A basket with 5:26 on the clock got them to within 1, 43–42, and they had a chance to tie it at the foul line, but failed. However, after Rohlfing hit 1–2 at the line, the Lions got another chance there and hit both, tying the game at 44 with just under 5 minutes left in the game. A drive in the paint from Ryan and a 3 from Narducci made it 49–44, but a 2 from the Lions got them to within 3, 49–46, with 2:49 on the clock. That was as close as they would get, as the Dawgs were able to pull away in the final minutes to win by 9, 57–48. Narducci led the Dawgs with 15, and Phil McFillin contributed 14. Along with his 11 blocked shots, Rohlfing scored 13. Round four, the semifinals of the Camden County Tournament, pitted Haddonfield against Camden Catholic again, this time at Camden Eastside. The Dawgs looked sharp at the outset, jumping to an 8–1 lead off 2 foul shots by Roddy, at the 3:19 mark of the first quarter. After the Irish hit a 3, McFillin answered the call, making it 11–4, Dawgs with 2:07 left in the quarter. The teams then exchanged 2’s, Haddonfield’s coming from Narducci, to keep it a 7-point game in favor of the Dawgs with 1:33 on the clock. The Irish got an easy 2 with 7.3 seconds to go, cutting the Dawgs’ lead to 5, 13–8, as the quarter ended. The Dawgs would not be ahead at the end of a quarter again, as fatigue seemed to set in, causing uncharacteristic bad passes, missed shots, and general disjointed play. At the half, they were trailing by 2, 18–20, and going into the fourth, the Irish were up by 5, 29–24. The final score was 46–47, Camden Catholic. McFillin was the only Dawg in double digits, finishing with 14.

• February 21, 26, and 28. The Dawgs were the fourth seed in the South Jersey Group 2 playoffs. Since I wrote up the recaps of these last three games of the season recently, I’m not going to go into much detail here. If you want more play-by-play, you can find it in my previous two Haddonfield.Today articles. The round 1 match against Manchester Township, which was the Dawgs’ only game of the week on 2/21, got its own article, and the second and third rounds are written up in the article prior to this one. The Manchester Hawks did not give the Dawgs too much of a fight. Although they did outscore Haddonfield in the second quarter by 6 to get to within 5, 25–20, at the half, the Dawgs were able to keep them from mounting anymore of a comeback and won by 11, 44–33. Nate Rohlfing and Sam Narducci were high scorers for the Dawgs, with 15 and 13, respectively. The round 2 contest against the Cape May Tigers would prove to be closer and a bit more exciting. One of the biggest sequence of events came in the first quarter with the Dawgs up by 3, 12–9. It started with a pickoff by Patrick Ryan, who passed the ball to Narducci. Narducci’s feed to Rohlfing brought down the house, as Rohlfing slammed it home. In the second quarter, with 2:16 on the clock, Daire Roddy handed the ball to Rohlfing under the basket. This time, Rohlfing’s hesitation move caught the Tigers off guard and his basket put the Dawgs up by 5, 24-19. In those last 2 minutes, the Tigers would put 4 on the board, holding the Dawgs scoreless, and at the half, it was a 1-point, 24–23 game. The Tigers took the lead twice early in the second half, but at the 4:28 mark, a pass from Ryan to Rohlfing put the Dawgs back on top 31–29. The Dawgs would never trail again and won 51–42. Rohlfing went up and in 9 times, adding 2 from the line, to finish with 21 points; Narducci had 14. Two nights later on their court, Middle Township would end the Dawgs’ spectacular season. But it took the highly favored Panthers overtime (and a lot of stall-ball tactics) to do it. The 38–46 defeat was hard to watch, especially since it meant the careers of the eight seniors, who had played together since middle school, had also come to an end, but it also proved that the Dawgs had not, as many had inferred, been overrated despite their 27–3 record.

Stat Toppers: For a complete rundown of player stats, from games played to baskets (3’s, 2’s, and foul shots) made and everything in between, including power points, go to this site off Note that you might need a subscription to view this page. But fear not: I’ll share a few of the best here. Not surprisingly, even with his two stints watching from the sidelines, Sam Narducci led the team with points scored (411). He was followed by Phil McFillin (328), Nate Rohlfing (294), and Patrick Ryan (216). All totaled, 14 players contributed to the Dawgs putting 1,977 points on the board over 30 games. Narducci (69) and McFillin (68) were neck-in-neck with 3-pointers made. The four Dawgs who made the most foul shots were Rohlfing (38), Matt Morris (31), Narducci (31), and Ryan (30). Morris was the most consistent from the line, making almost 89% of his shots. I think the assists stats are the most incredible and really are at the heart of why the Dawgs won 27 games. While Roddy was way ahead of the pack (157), look how many other Dawgs had 40 or more: sophomore Mike Douglas (45), McFillin (46), Morris (47), Narducci (55), and Ryan (73). Defensively, Ryan (244) and Rohlfing (201) led the team in rebounds. They also were tops in blocks: Rohlfing finished with 53 and Ryan with 45. Impressive as well were the steal leaders: Roddy (48), Narducci (46), and Ryan (46). Four seniors, McFillin, Morris, Roddy, and Ryan, played in all of Haddonfield’s 30 games.

My Personal Highlight: As much as I love being in the stands and cheering on the Dawgs, especially when they have a season like this one, what will be my favorite memory did not take place on the court this year. It happened in the HMHS cafeteria on February 6, Senior Night, when I had the chance to sit down with the eight seniors—Matt, Phil, Ryan, Sam, Mike, Daire, Zach, and Nate—and interview them. They were funny, engaging, polite, and through their answers showed how much they cared about each other on and off the court. They will be greatly missed in many ways next season, but they will be forever more a part of the Haddonfield boys basketball legacy. I wish them continued success in their post-high school years. And I have one request of them: Please come back and “visit”!