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

By Lauree Padgett / Exclusive to Haddonfield[dot]Today

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.