• Dan Russoman

Blue Devils rally to beat Seneca


Shamaya Simola (3) looks to pass around Seneca’s Sophia Cooper during last week’s win. (THG/Dan Russoman.To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

HAMMONTON—A strong second-half surge helped Hammonton High School’s girls basketball team win a back-and-forth non-conference matchup last week as the Blue Devils snapped a two-game losing skid with a 45-41 win against Seneca.


Hammonton fell behind early in the game and trailed at the half by four points, 18-14. In the third quarter, the Blue Devils began to fight back, as Ava Divello scored six points to fuel a 14-7 run that gave Hammonton the lead.


In the final period, Emma Peretti scored 11 of her game-high 19 points to help the Blue Devils close out the win.


“It’s kind of been the same story for us every night,” Hammonton coach Mike Velardi said.


“We dig ourselves a hole early in the game and then it’s just a matter of ‘can we come all the way back?’ Today we were able to get things going in the second half. We made some adjustments at halftime and the girls never gave up,” Velardi said.


Hammonton had trouble finding good shots in the first half as Seneca limited Peretti to just four points. Divello and Giada Palmieri provided much of the offense in the first two quarters with solid perimeter shooting.


“They [Seneca] took that big lead early, but even though they were outplaying us, we were only down four at the half, so we were pretty confident that we could come back,” Velardi said.


Peretti began to assert herself in the third quarter with two baskets, then dominated inside in the final eight minutes of the game.


“Emma [Peretti] is playing so well for us. We lean on her a lot and today she showed why she’s one of the best players in the state,” Velardi said.


Peretti finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds, her third-straight double-double.


Divello added 14 points in the win, while Palmieri finished with 12.


Earlier in the week, Hammonton dropped games at Middle Twp. and Wildwood Catholic.


Opening the season on the road at Middle Twp., a slow start doomed the Blue Devils as they never recovered from a 12-3 first-quarter deficit in a 52-38 loss.


Peretti provided most of the offense for Hammonton with 21 points to go along with 14 rebounds.


Two nights later, the Devils traveled for another Cape Atlantic League matchup, this time losing at Wildwood Catholic 69-43.


Once again, Hammonton struggled early in the game, falling behind 24-7 in the opening quarter.


“Wildwood Catholic is very good. We didn’t play well early and we’re just never able to get back into the game,” Velardi said.


Peretti finished with 18 points and 22 rebounds, while Divello added 14 points in the loss.


Hammonton was idle this week and the Blue Devils return to action on January 4 when they host Buena at 5:30 p.m.