• Dan Russoman

Hill leads Hammonton High School past Lower Cape May


Hammonton’s Kenny Smith (3) drives past Lower Cape May’s Kamuri Wright (2) for a basket early in last week’s victory. (THG/Dan Russoman. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

HAMMONTON—Jaron Hill sparked a late rally as Hammonton High School’s boys basketball team fought back to edge Lower Cape May 41-40 last week to improve its record to 5-2 this season.


Hill scored 13 of his team-high 18 points in the final period as the Blue Devils overcame an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter.


“He [Hill] really bailed us out,” Hammonton coach Joe Martino said.


“When Jaron [Hill] is on, he makes us tough to beat. He came through when we needed him,” Martino said.


Hill hit the first of his four 3-pointers early in the game as the teams ended the first quarter tied 10-10.


Turnovers hurt the Blue Devils in the second quarter, as the visiting Tigers took advantage of Hammonton miscues to go on a 10-1 run that helped them open up a 26-17 halftime lead.


Neither team managed much offense in the third quarter and entering the game’s final period, Lower Cape May clung to a 31-23 lead.


After Kenny Smith made a pair of free throws, Hill’s rebound and putback cut Hammonton’s deficit to 31-27. John Andaloro’s layup pulled the Blue Devils to within two with 5:55 left in the game and following a Lower Cape May turnover, Hill drilled a 3-pointer from the left side to give Hammonton a 32-31 lead.


The teams then traded the lead five times as Hill connected on two more 3-pointers, the last one coming with less than a minute left that gave Hammonton the lead for good at 40-38.


Andaloro’s free throw put the Blue Devils ahead by three with 25 seconds remaining and Lower Cape May was able to make a pair of foul shots to close the gap to one point before time ran out on the Tigers.


“It was a nice win for us, especially coming off a loss [at Egg Harbor Twp.]. Lower Cape May is a lot like us, they’re a really tough matchup for us and that’s why the game was so close. I thought once we went to a 1-3-1 [zone], it bothered them a little and gave us some room to come back and win,” Martino said.


In addition to Hill’s 18 points, Andaloro and Smith each scored nine in the victory for the Blue Devils.


Earlier in the week, Hammonton lost at Egg Harbor Twp. (EHT) 65-56.


Playing one of the Cape Atlantic League’s top teams on the road, the Blue Devils fell behind early as the host Eagles used an 8-0 run to take a 13-5 lead in the first quarter before ending the period with a 21-15 advantage.


Hammonton rallied in the second quarter, as Smith and Andrew Delaney hit 3-pointers as the Blue Devils cut EHT’s lead to 33-29 at the half.


The game stayed close until late in the third period when EHT used an 8-2 run to take control.


Hammonton played well in the final period, but EHT was able to hit a few key shots down the stretch to maintain its advantage and close out the win.


“I thought we played well against a very good team. We battled, but they were able to make shots late that kept us from coming all the way back,” Martino said.


Smith finished with 18 points to lead Hammonton, while Hill has 16 and Andaloro scored 14 in the loss.


Earlier this week, Hammonton took on rival St. Joseph Academy, but that game ended too late for this edition. On January 12, Hammonton plays at Cumberland Regional at 5:30 p.m. and on January 14, the Blue Devils visit Oakcrest for a 5:30 p.m. start.