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Review of Boys Basketball, 2019-20 (2)

Dawgs Hit the Heights

By Lauree Padgett for Haddonfield Today

Part 2 of 5: Dawgs Keep Streaking Along

Three games later, after easy victories over Ocean City High School in the Seagull Classic (the Dawgs won 46-29, and Ben Cerrato scored 24) and Audubon (the Dawgs won 66-33 and Andrew Gostovich scored 23, 21 off 3’s), Haddonfield had its first of two games versus its fellow Liberty division team, the Eagles of West Deptford. This initial meeting on January 8 was at the Dawgs’ pound.

Digging again into my Facebook posts, here is my recap:

It was a barn-burner game between the Haddonfield Dawgs and the Eagles of West Deptford tonight. Going into the 4th quarter, the Dawgs sported an 8-point lead on their home court … but couldn’t hold it. We went into OT tied at 36. It was a stressful period [4 minutes], but the Dawgs hung in there with tough defense and a big 2 from Andrew Gostovich and an equally big pair of foul shots from Conner Fell. [The final was 41-39.] The Dawgs are now 7-1 overall and 4-0 in the Colonial Conference. Ben Cerrato led the Dawgs with 19 points, and “Gos” finished with 16. Up next is a home game next Tuesday night versus Sterling.

Ah yes, Sterling. Sterling was allegedly another one of the “to-beat” teams in the Colonial Conference for the 2019-20 season. On January14, in the first of its pair of games versus the Silver Knights, Haddonfield again was playing host. Here is my game summary capsule:

The game was close throughout. After 1, the Dawgs were up by 3, 14-11; at half-time, they held a 5-point, 26-21, advantage. Going into the last quarter, they were ahead 37-33. But thanks to some stellar foul shooting by Tommy Mooney and four baskets under the bucket by Ben Cerrato, the Dawgs walked away with a 55-43 victory. Cerrato finished with 17 points, Andrew Gostovich with 15, and Mooney with 14. This was the Dawgs’ 7th W in a row, which improves their record to 8-1 overall and 5-0 in the Colonial Conference. Nice going, boys!

After thundering over the Herd at Woodbury on January 16, beating them by 38, 58-20, thanks in part to putting 28 on the board in the last quarter, Haddonfield played Gateway at home on January 23. This wasn’t a game in which anyone was expecting the Gators to give the Dawgs much trouble. And as expected, the Dawgs won easily, outscoring them by more than 40 points. But this was a noteworthy game for a few reasons. Here is how I described it in my Facebook post:

So, some history was made tonight at the Haddonfield boys basketball home game versus Gateway. First of all, we had a female ref for I believe the first time in a varsity game. She called a good four quarters.

And then, at some point in the third after senior Andrew Gostovich had drained another 3, I heard Dave Wiedeman in the stands behind me saying, “I wonder how many 3’s he has? He must be near the record.” So, I looked down in my scorebook and counted.

Me: Dave, he has 7. What’s the record?

Dave: 9

Me: Who has it?

Dave: One of your boys after Brian [Zoubek].

Me (after thinking for about 1 second): Greg? Greg Steinberger?

Dave: Yeah, that’s it, Greg Steinberger.

And then just to make things more exciting, Gos swooshed in #8. With that, the 3rd quarter ended with Andrew alone outscoring the poor Gators by 26-19, with eight treys and a 2-pointer, and the Dawgs overall up by 35.

Gos must have known he was closing in, as he hit #9 to tie Greg almost right after the clock started ticking in the 4th. With about 4:30 showing on the scoreboard, in went #10, and with that, the Dawgs record set by Greg in 2007 was eclipsed. [Upon further review, it was determined that Greg had shared this record with Blake Wilson, who first recorded nine 3’s in a game a few years ahead of Greg.]

Well done, Gos!! And speaking of well done, that’s pretty much sized up what the Gators were by the end of the night, well done, as the final score was 74-33, Haddonfield. The Dawgs remain undefeated, at 8-0, in the Colonial Conference, and are now 12-1 overall.

Saturday, January 23, it was time for the annual Jeff Cooney Classic. This year, Haddonfield was taking on Highland Regional. By the half, Highland hadn’t even broken into double digits and the Dawgs were up by 15, 21-6. The final score would be 63-41. Tommy Mooney had 19 points and Ben Cerrato had 21 along with eight boards.

To finish out the month of January and push their overall record to 15-1, the Dawgs would face the Red Raiders of Paulsboro at home and trek to Overbrook to take on the Rams. Although the Dawgs started out a little sluggish against the Rams, trailing by 3, 7-10, after 1, they were up by 3 at the half, 17-14, and ended up winning by 13, 46-33. Paulsboro, on the other hand, was a test of the team’s tenacity that I alluded to earlier. Here is my FB wrap-up:

Jan 28

It was a real nail-biter at Haddonfield tonight, where the Dawgs hosted the Red Raiders of Paulsboro. The two teams were in a tight game through the first 3 quarters. In fact, they were tied at 12 after the first 8 minutes and tied at 21 going into the half. But Paulsboro went on a run in the 3rd and had a 6-point lead with 1:46 to left in the period. That’s when Steve McClane hit a 3 to make it 34-37, and then after Connor Fell, who is a Bulldawg in every way on the court, picked off the ball, McClane went in for 2 to make it 36-37. But Paulsboro would get the last basket to take a 3-point lead into the final quarter. Luckily, Andrew Gostovich wasted no time in swooshing in a 3 to tie it at 39, and after another Fell pick-off, Gos followed with another 3 to put the Dawgs back on top, 42-39. And amazingly, Paulsboro would only put 5 points on the board in those last 8 minutes. The Dawgs had a pair of 3’s by McClane to help seal the deal. When the buzzer sounded, the Dawgs remained undefeated in the Colonial Conference, with a come-from-behind 52-44 win. They are now 9-0 in the conference, 14-1 overall, and haven’t lost in over a month. Gos led all scorers with 19. McClane scored all 11 of his points in the second half. Next up is a road trip to Overbrook for an early (5:30) game on Thursday.

The Dawgs were riding a 14-0 streak when they met up with Moorestown, the team that had knocked them out of first round of last year’s Tournament of Champions, beating Haddonfield by 1, 60-59, and giving our guys only their second, and final, loss of the season. Needless to say, the Dawgs and their fans were looking for a little payback when the two teams met up again on February 1 at the Holy Cross Academy Shootout. Well, after 32 minutes, two things had been proven: It sure hadn’t been redemption — Haddonfield lost again — and it most certainly hadn’t been a shootout – the final score was 27-25, Moorestown. I was not able to make the game, although several friends kept me updated. So, I’ll borrow a bit from the Inquirer’s recap, written by Chris Melchiorre and titled, “Quakers Out-Defend Dawgs in a Grinding Battle.” After putting 4 on the board and keeping the Quakers off it after 1, both teams managed 7 in the second quarter, giving the Dawgs an 11-7 lead going into the half. In the third, the Quakers outscored the Dawgs by 3, 9-6, so going into the last quarter, they were only down by 1, and not for long. As Melchiorre put it, Moorestown led, 27-22, with just over a minute left before a three-pointer by Andrew Gostovich set up a tense final minute in which Haddonfield rimmed out on two would-be game winners.” Crud! Ben Cerrato put up 16 of his team’s 25 points.

Now 15-2, the Dawgs showed their mettle by coming out strong the next two games versus Colonial opponents: their only matchup against Lindenwold and round two against Collingswood. Both were at home.

Here is part of my summary of the Lindenwold game:

Feb 4

The Lindenwold Lions came to the Dawgs’ den tonight for a Colonial Conference match. And it took a while for the Dawgs to tame them. …

The Dawgs [up 30–24 at the half] started to wear down the Lions a little more in the third. Cerrato got three buckets, Tommy Mooney went up and in twice, and Kasko got another 2 and another 3, so going into the 4th quarter, Haddonfield was up by double digits, 48-33. … When the horn sounded, the Dawgs had won 63-49 to remain undefeated (11-0) in the conference. It was a good way to rebound off a tough, defense-oriented 25-27 loss to Moorestown on Saturday. Gos finished with 17, Cerrato with 15, and Kasko with 12.

The February 6 game against Collingswood was Senior Night. As I noted in part on FB:

We honored six Haddonfield players: Aiden Bell, Ben Cerrato, Connor Fell, Andrew Gostovich, Alex Kadar, and Steve McClane. All six played significant minutes and contributed to the Dawgs’ pounding of the Panthers. But no one contributed as much to the 62-31 final score as Cerrato, who knocked in 27 points and pulled down lots of boards at both ends. Sophomore Tommy Mooney finished with 13, swooshing in 9 on treys and 4 on a few nice layups. … The Dawgs are now 12-0 in conference play (with four conference games remaining) and 17-2 overall.

Then it was time for another Saturday nonleague game. Here is some of my FB recap:

Feb 8

The Dawgs had probably the shortest road trip of the year, heading down the highway to Paul VI for the Showcase tournament. The game was at 11:30 a.m., which is not the team’s favorite time to take to the court. Their opponents were the Red Devils of Rancocas Valley Regional High School. Out on the court the Red Devils looked big and athletic. And even though the Dawgs got possession off the tip-off, the Dawgs did not score. After the Devils did not either, Ben Cerrato secured the rebound, but the Devils picked off the ball and scored. They would not get another point off a field goal the rest of the quarter. … [When] the first quarter ended, the Dawgs were up 14-4.

The second quarter was even worse if you were a Red Devils’ fan. The Dawgs’ stifling defense held them to one made basket – a 3. Meanwhile, the Dawgs just kept scoring. Mooney hit his third 3; Andrew Gostovich got his first, as well as a 2-pointer; Justin Kasko scored two buckets on a pair of nice backdoor feeds, the first from Connor Fell, and the second from Mooney; and Cerrato also had two buckets in the paint. At halftime, the Dawgs were in control, up 30-7. … When the buzzer sounded to end the game, the Dawgs had still won by 18, 53-35 to improve their record to 18-2. Ben Cerrato finished with 14; Tommy Mooney, 13; and Andrew Gostovich, 12. And sophomore Mattew Guveiyian got the first basket of his varsity career, a 3 from the left side. My nostalgic sidebar below explains Matthew’s Dawg genealogy, tells you just how long I have been going to Haddonfield boys basketball games.

For Part 1, click HERE.

PART 3 of 5 will be published on Wednesday, August 5.