• Dan Russoman

Blue Devils comeback fall short


Hammonton’s Ta’Vonne Barber (14) sends a pass past Middle Twp. defender Michael Zarfati (2) early in last week’s game. (THG/Dan Russoman.To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

HAMMONTON—A strong second-half rally fell short as Hammonton High School’s boys basketball team lost a key Cape Atlantic League matchup to Middle Twp. 57-47 last week.


That loss, combined by a 60-40 defeat at Mainland later in the week, will likely keep the Blue Devils out of this week’s Cape Atlantic League playoffs.


Hammonton, which enters the week in fourth place in the CAL United Division, was hoping to earn a wild card berth in the league playoffs. A win against either Middle or Mainland would have gone far toward the Blue Devils earning one of those spots, but they now look to be out of the tournament.


“We were in good position, but we didn’t get the job done. I still believe we’re one of the best eight teams in the CAL, but we may not get a shot,” Hammonton coach Joe Martino said.


Bubba McNeil scored 10 of his team-high 21 points in the second quarter when Middle used a 16-7 run to take a 27-16 halftime lead.


That lead swelled to 24 points at the end of the third quarter, as Hammonton struggled to score and trailed 49-24 with eight minutes left in the game.


The Blue Devils fought back, as Jaron Hill led a 17-0 run to start the fourth quarter and Hammonton twice pulled to within four points late in the game before Middle Twp. was able to convert free throws in the final minute to close out the win.


“We were sloppy with the ball and let them go on that [7-0] run to close out the first half. Then, in the third quarter, we missed some shots. We dug too deep a hole,” Martino said.


Kenny Smith led Hammonton with 14 points in the loss and Hill added 11, including a pair of fourth-quarter 3-pointers.


Playing at Mainland later in the week, Hammonton fell behind early in the game and let the host Mustangs pull away in the second half of a 60-40 loss.


John Andaloro had 12 points to lead Hammonton.


Hammonton had opened the week with a 56-41 win against Cape May Tech. The Devils never trailed, cruising to the win.


Hill led a balanced scoring attack with 11 points, while Erik Pabon had nine and Andaloro, Smith and Michael Passarella each added eight.


Earlier this week, Hammonton hosted Ocean City, but that game ended too late for this edition. On February 17, Hammonton visits Absegami at 5:30 p.m.