20/09/2021

Boyacachi-Sports

Boyacachi-Sports

Boys basketball: Haddon Township shocks Haddonfield for first win over rival in decades

With no state tournament on the horizon, and the threat of a shutdown always looming, basketball teams across New Jersey are hoping to find ways to create season-defining moments out of regular-season play.

Haddon Township got that moment Saturday.

It’s been decades since Haddon Township has pulled out a win against Colonial Conference rival Haddonfield, a perennial Group 2 powerhouse and winner of back-to-back state titles in 2018 and 2019. For the most part, games between the rival programs haven’t been all that competitive.

Haddon Township flipped that narrative on its head and rallied late for a 38-30 win over the visiting Haddonfield.

According to Haddon Township athletic director Tim George, the win was the first time Haddon Township defeated Haddonfield in 38 years. Haddonfield’s domination of the rivalry stretched back to the 1982-1983 season.

For fourth-year coach Paddy McNamara, getting that coveted win has been something of a white whale for the program.

“I grew up and played for Haddon Township, and I was an assistant for a long time,” said McNamara, a 2005 Haddon Township graduate and former player. “Obviously with them being next door, they’re our rival. But at the same time, even though we call them our rivals, we’ve never beaten them.

“It was always that one we wanted to get, the elusive one. To finally get it in a year that we’re not going to have a postseason is such a great feeling for our kids. I’m just happy for our seniors because without a postseason you look for big victories where you can, and I don’t know if it’ll get much bigger than this for us.”

Led by Brandon Mulligan, the key to the win was a timely late run. The Hawks’ transition offense helped the team turn a 19-13 deficit into a 21-19 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Tyler Levins scored a basket at the buzzer to finish an 8-0 run and a steal by Mulligan late in the fourth helped set Levins up for another go-ahead bucket.

“Mulligan was huge down the stretch,” said McNamara. “He created a lot of points in transition by finding guys in the open court. He was the difference-maker in the second half.

“We had problems scoring for a little while and then we had a little run in the third quarter that gave us a boost. We needed to keep our energy up and make as many transition points as possible because in the half court Haddonfield’s zone is really difficult. (My players) really lived up to the moment.”

Mulligan finished with eight points, while Levins scored a game-high 14 . Jackson Lutz recorded six points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

Tommy Mooney led Haddonfield (0-1) with 14 points, while Carson Wolff finished with 10 and two rebounds.

Despite being a young team, the history of the win wasn’t lost on Haddon Township’s players.

“It’s a small town and most of the kids’ parents are alumni, and we compete with them in every sport and particularly basketball,” said McNamara. “Basketball’s been the sport where it’s been a hard win to get, so our kids knew about it.

“In the week leading up, we kind of talked about how we’re gonna put all the eggs in a basket and treat it like a championship. Not just because it’s a short season, but also because you don’t know if and when you’re gonna get shut down. Our kids knew how big this was and they wanted it bad for sure.”