HAMMONTON—Hammonton and St. Joseph’s boys basketball teams turned in one of the most memorable matchups of their long rivalry last week, with the Wildcats taking home a hard-fought 71-65 win in double overtime.
“This one was tough, but I give our kids a lot of credit. They fought back and beat a really good team tonight,” St. Joseph Academy coach Paul Rodio said.
Ja’son Prevard hit four free throws and Ian Harvey-Williams had four points to fuel a 10-4 run in the second overtime period to deliver a win for St. Joe in a game that saw several lead changes throughout 40 minutes of well-played action.
“It [the game] just went back and forth. It was a slugfest and we had our chances. We just didn’t capitalize when we needed to. It’s a little frustrating to come out on the wrong end of that,” Hammonton coach Joe Martino said.
The Blue Devils appeared in control to start the game, as freshman guard Kenny Smith hit a pair of 3-point shots to spark an 11-4 run for Hammonton.
St. Joe fought back in the second quarter, as Qiani Bowens nailed a 3-pointer and Harvey-Williams scored six points, including a pair of thunderous dunks, powering a 24-point outburst that put the Wildcats up 28-21 at the half.
“We started out pretty good and we set the tempo where we wanted it and then they had a nice little run. They’re tough to stop and they get going in transition. And if you turn the ball over against them, they’re out running quick and they finish well. They [St. Joe] had that little stretch in the first half when they gained the momentum back,” Martino said.
Hammonton picked up the pace in the third quarter, as three baskets by John Andaloro and 3-pointers from Smith and Jaron Hill helped the Blue Devils head into the fourth period tied 39-39 following an 18-11 run.
“We were a little sloppy with the ball and had too many turnovers. Give Hammonton credit, they took advantage of our mistakes,” Rodio said.
Hammonton continued to press its advantage in the fourth quarter, and with 35 seconds remaining in the game appeared in control with possession of the ball and a four-point lead, 56-52.
Following a Hammonton turnover, Prevard was fouled driving to the basket and converted two free throws to cut the Wildcats’ deficit to two points. Harvey-Williams then grabbed a loose ball and fed Bowens for a layup that tied the game 56-56 with 23 seconds left in regulation.
Hammonton had three shots on its last possession, but were off target and the game headed to overtime.
In the first extra period, Prevard’s basket put St. Joe ahead 58-56, and he hit two foul shots to give the Wildcats a four-point lead with 2:35 remaining. Andrew Delaney converted a pair of free throws for Hammonton, before Prevard’s free throw kept St. Joe in the lead 61-58.
With 40 seconds left in the period, Hill hit a 3-pointer from the left side to tie the game and force second overtime period.
Prevard opened the scoring for the Wildcats with a layup, and minutes later his steal and score along with a Harvey-Williams drive for a basket that put St. Joe up 67-61.
Hammonton had some open looks, but missed a few shots and was never able to get back into the game, as Prevard made four free throws down the stretch to close out the win.
“I think it’s a nice win for us. Coming off an overtime loss [a day before against Haddonfield], we could have come out and laid an egg tonight. Down four and Hammonton had the ball with around 30 seconds left and to come back and tie the game? That was incredible. We pressed and we get in the right spots and we didn’t quit,” Rodio said.
Rodio was pleased with his team’s resilience and was also quick to praise Hammonton.
“It was a collective team effort tonight, and Hammonton has to be feeling bad after they played so good. They are a very good basketball team and they are for real. I think they had us down, they were feeling it, and our kids responded,” Rodio said.
Prevard’s 26 points led all scorers, while Harvey-Williams added 16, and Bowens and Arnaldo Rodriguez each had 12 for the Wildcats.
Smith led Hammonton with 24 points and Andaloro added 18.