Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to footer

HMHS Boys Basketball: NJISAA Group 2 playoffs: Round 1

By Lauree Padgett / Exclusive to Haddonfield[dot]Today

Dawgs Hang on to Clip Hawks

Manchester Township at Haddonfield: February 21, 2024

Not that readers of my wrap-ups cling on every word I write, but you may recall that in my NJISAA preview last week, I said that the 10-15 overall record of Haddonfield’s first opponent, the Hawks of Manchester Township, should not make Dawg fans overconfident of the game’s outcome. That ended up being one of my more accurate predictions for the season thus far. Although the Dawgs prevailed, it by no means proved to be an easy W.

The game started out as well as possible. Phil McFillin swooshed in a 3 pointer and got fouled in the process. His foul shot put the Dawgs in front 4–0 with only 4 seconds gone in the game. That was quicky followed by a 2 from the Hawks. Nate Rohlfing got fouled in the paint and made 1–2 from the line with 6:29 on the clock. After getting surrounded by three Dawgs, the Hawks’ ball carrier committed a travel during Manchester Township’s next possession. The Dawgs took full advantage of the turnover as Sam Narducci knocked down a 3, putting the Dawgs up by 6, 8–2.

At the other end, Rohlfing’s defensive rebound set up Narducci’s second trey in less than a minute, and in less than 2 minutes, the Dawgs had jumped out to a 11–2 edge. Patrick Ryan pulled down his first defensive board of the game, and the Hawgs picked up their third foul of the quarter. Haddonfield put up four shot attempts and none dropped, however, and after a pickoff by Ryan, the Dawgs missed another shot, before the Hawks ended their 3-minute drought with another 2.

In the Dawgs’ next possession, somehow a very open Ryan was missed under the basket. Instead, Daire Roddy got fouled attempting to score. He made the first foul shot but not the second, which Rohlfing rebounded. The Dawgs missed two more scoring chances, but the Hawks were robbed of their next attempt by Roddy’s steal. While the Dawgs’ defense was looking solid, the offense was having trouble getting the ball in the net, and again failed two times to score this time down the floor. Finally after a defensive rebound by Rohlfing, Narducci got the ball and went cross court and up and in to make it 14–4, Haddonfield with 1:35 left in the quarter. The last points of the quarter came on foul shots. Manchester Township made 1–2 at the 1:29 mark, and Narducci dropped in both shots with 3.7 on the clock. As the horn sounded, the Dawgs were on top by double digits, 16­­–5.

The Hawks got to the foul line after the Dawgs did not score when they inbounded the ball to start the second quarter. Not only were both foul shots good, the Hawks then got the next two field goals, and with 6:09 left in the half, the Dawgs’ 11-point lead had been whittled down to 5, 16–11. Matt Morris’ ball on a hard drive in the paint did everything but drop in, but after Narducci secured the defensive board under the Hawks’ basket, Morris’ next shot from behind the arc hit nothing but net, pushing the Dawgs’ lead to 8, 19–11.

Rohlfing pulled down another defensive board and then brought down the house at the other end, slamming the ball through the basket off a feed from Mike Douglas. That gave the Dawgs’ back their double-digit lead, but not for long, as the Hawks got a 2 under their basket, although it was not quite as exciting. The Dawgs did not score, the Hawks did, and with 2:41 on the clock, they were back to within 6, 21–16. The Dawgs lost the ball on a bad pass (this has been an uncharacteristic problem the past few games, and if the Dawgs hope to advance further into the playoffs, they will need to cut down on this type of turnover), but Narducci’s steal set up a Morris drive for 2 in the paint. Morris nearly picked off the ball, but instead, Manchester Township hit a 3 from way out, and with 1:33 on the clock, they were within 5, 23–18.

The Dawgs picked up a few fouls and then got called for a held ball with 42.3 remaining in the half. The Hawks’ bucket made it a 3-point game, but after running down the clock under their basket, the Dawgs got the last 2 ahead of the buzzer on a pass from Roddy to Ryan. Although the Dawgs left the court up by 5, 25­­–20, the Hawks had outscored them in the second 8 minutes by 6, 15–9. How would the Dawgs respond in the final two quarters?

Offensively, the Dawgs wouldn’t light up the scoreboard in the third or fourth quarters, but their defense did keep the Hawks at bey. In the third, the Dawgs didn’t score off the inbound, but the Hawks’ quick response also failed. Rohlfing got the defensive board and Roddy drove in for a basket to make it 27–20, Dawgs. All that happened in the first 7 seconds! Two-plus minutes would go by before there was another basket. With 3:41 on the clock Dawg coach Paul Wiedeman called a 30-second timeout. The Lady Dawgs, who had been in the stands, began to make their way down to the girls’ locker room. That pause in action was all our clever announcer and music man Mark Hershberger needed to start playing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” a sly reference to the fact that the girls’ first-round opponent would be their Colonial rivals, the Gloucester City Lions. (Hershberger’s song selection foreshadowed the girls’ 61–21 pounding of the Lions later that night.)

But back to the boys’ game. After the quick timeout, the Dawgs came back on the court and set up another slam by Rohlfing, this one coming off a dish by Roddy. That upped the Dawgs’ lead to 9, 29–20, with 3:31 on the clock. Almost 60 more seconds would tick off the clock before another basket, this one by the Hawks, who also got a foul shot opportunity and made it. Rohlfing and Roddy combined again for another Rohlfing basket, and he also stepped to the foul line. His shot kept it a 9-point, 32–23, Haddonfield advantage. After a pilfer by McFillin, Narducci was fouled in the act of shooting. His first shot missed, but his second one dropped in with 1:03 on the clock and the Dawgs back to a 10-point edge.

The Hawks were trying to run down the clock to take the last shot, by Roddy foiled that plan, and fed the ball to Narducci, whose basket made it 35–23 with 13 seconds left. The Hawks last-second attempt at a 3 hit the backboard and dropped in, so as the buzzer sounded, Manchester Township had cut its deficit down to single digits and were trailing by 9, 35–26.

In the fourth quarter, the Dawgs maintained a safe lead throughout, so their fans weren’t holding their breaths after each possession. It helped that Haddonfield actually was able to score after inbounding the ball to start the quarter. It was off a pass from Ryan to Rohlfing and once again gave the Dawgs a double-digit, 37–26, lead. (While it was good to see Rohlfing strong under the basket throughout the game, Ryan needs to be getting in the paint and scoring, not just passing and rebounding, as the South Jersey playoffs progress.) After the Hawks scored, Rohlfing scored again, keeping the Dawgs lead at 11, 39-28, with 6:48 on the clock.

After a sideline scuffle a few plays later that gave the Hawks the ball, a Dawg foul sent them to the foul line. Both shots were good, making it 39–30, Dawgs.  Rohlfing was fouled at the Dawgs’ end. He made 1–2 at the 5:15 mark. In the next 50 seconds, the Dawg got fouled, lost a pass, got it back, missed a shot, but the ball went out of bounds off Manchester Township. Rohlfing got his last basket of the game off the inbounds, and with 4:15 left in the game, the Dawgs had their biggest lead, 12 points, up 42–30.

A drive by Roddy a few plays later made it 44–30. The Hawks got those 2 points back from the foul line, but were still down by 12, 44–32, with 3 minutes and change left in the game. Neither team would score for a good chunk of those 3 minutes until the Hawks got to the foul line with 33.9 seconds on the clock. One foul shot went in, making it 44–33, and that would be the final score. Nate Rohlfing finished with 15 and Sam Narducci added 13.

Quarter scores:

1st: Haddonfield 16, Manchester Township 5

2nd: Haddonfield 9, Manchester Township 16

Halftime: Haddonfield 25, Manchester Township 20

3rd: Haddonfield 10, Manchester Township 6

4th: Haddonfield 9, Manchester Township 7

Final score: Haddonfield 44, Manchester Township 33

South Jersey Group 2, Round 2 Monday, 2/26

The Dawgs will face an even tougher opponent in today’s round 2 game. The Tigers of Lower Cape May, in the United division of the Cape Atlantic Conference, sport a 21–6 overall record and are 12–0 in their division. They have won three out of their last five games compared to the Dawgs, who have gone 4–1. It should be another “paw” biter!

Fans who are planning to attend the game, take note: Although there were tickets still available at the door for last Wednesday’s contest, you might want to “play” it safe and order them in advance. (If not, make sure your cellphone has the capacity to order them online when you get to the Haddons Pavilion.) Here is the overall ticketing link: You will see options to buy tickets for both the boy’s 5 p.m. game and the 7 p.m. girls game versus Haddon Township. (It is rumored that this may be Hawk coach Tom Mulligan’s last game. If so, it will be against an opposing coach who just happens to be married to his assistant coach and brother!)