• Dan Russoman

St. Joseph boys topple rival Hammonton


St. Joseph’s Ja’son Prevard (1) drives past Hammonton defenders Owen Mauriello (11) and Declan Roeder (3) early in last week’s game. (THG/Dan Russoman.To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

HAMMONTON—St. Joseph Academy’s boys basketball team overcame its second-straight slow start to defeat rival Hammonton last week, posting a 66-43 win that improved the Wildcats to 2-0.


“I’m not happy at all with how we played today. If our kids think they can come out like that and beat good teams, they’re going to be surprised down the road,” St. Joseph coach Paul Rodio said.


Hammonton frustrated St. Joe early in last week’s matchup, forcing turnovers and bad decisions with the ball that left Rodio seething and the Blue Devils in the lead at the end of the first quarter, 15-13.


Jaron Hill hit three 3-pointers in the quarter and John Andoloro scored six points as Hammonton outhustled and outshot their rivals for the first eight minutes of the game.


“I thought we did a great job early, we had them on the run a little bit. Our guys came out and did some good things,” Hammonton coach Joe Martino said.


St. Joseph was able to regroup in the second quarter, and the Wildcats athleticism and depth wore down a Hammonton team that had only practiced for a week prior to the game.


“They were able to wear us down. They have so many good athletes and with just one week to practice, we aren’t in game shape yet. I think we got tired and couldn’t substitute the way they did and it let them pull away,” Martino said.


Dom Thomas scored six points and Marcus Pierce added six in the second quarter, as St. Joe forced turnovers that powered their transition game and sparked a 21-6 run that allowed the Wildcats to pull away.


That momentum carried into the third quarter, where Hammonton’s shooting woes continued as St. Joe outscored the Blue Devils 17-3 to put the game away.


“We played with energy, but their transition game hurt us and we weren’t able to hit shots when we needed to. But I’m happy with the effort. Our kids played hard the whole game and never gave up. I think once we have some more practice time in, we’ll be much better,” Martino said.


While Hammonton’s coach was focused on the positives, St. Joe’s staff was concentrating on what went wrong during the game.


“It gets me angry,” Rodio said.


“We play selfishly at times and it hurts us. Give them [Hammonton] credit. Joe [Martino] does a great job and he had them ready to play. They had more energy than us and more intensity. I think they wanted it more than we did, I really do. We cannot play like that and expect to beat teams down the road,” Rodio said.


The Wildcats earned a lopsided win, but Rodio was upset that his team was outplayed to start the game.


“It’s the second game in-a-row we didn’t come out with any intensity. They gave us some trouble. You can be ranked all you want, but when you have selfish kids, that’s what happens. You can practice all you want, but if you don’t have heart and discipline, that’s what happens,” Rodio said.


Rodio criticized his team’s play and challenged it to get better.


“Today was one of the most embarrassing performances since I’ve been here. We didn’t play well. I notice little things. We don’t run back on defense. A guy is open in the corner and we don’t make that pass. We take it 1-on-3, just selfish things. In tense situations we don’t make good decisions. A lot of out kids say the right thing, but in the game I don’t see it. Actions speak louder than words. That’s my challenge to them,” Rodio said.


While Rodio was disappointed, Martino saw plenty to build on moving forward.


“We did a great job. I told our kids that we’ll get better. We have a really young team and I think once we get some experience, we’re going to be very, very good,” Martino said.


Pierce led all scorers in last week’s game with 26 points. Thomas added 14. Andoloro had 14 points for Hammonton and Hill finished with 10.


On February 3, Hammonton hosts Millville at 5:30 p.m. St. Joseph plays the same night at St. Augustine Prep at 6 p.m.