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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!