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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.