St. Joseph rallies past rival Hammonton
HAMMONTON—A few key baskets down the stretch allowed St. Joseph Academy’s boys basketball team to pull away and notch a 57-43 victory against rival Hammonton last week.
The host Blue Devils frustrated the undefeated Wildcats for much of the game, forcing turnovers and poor shots that kept the game within reach for Hammonton until late in the fourth quarter.
“They [Hammonton] always play us tough. We saw it a few weeks ago in the first game [between the two teams] and again tonight. I told our kids that Hammonton would be ready,” St. Joseph coach Paul Rodio said.
Both teams played well early in the game. Five players scored in the first quarter for St. Joe as the Wildcats used a balanced offense to take a 16-13 lead. Hammonton was led by Owen Mauriello’s five points and four from Jaron Hill.
St. Joe worked to stretch its lead before halftime, as Arnaldo Rodriguez hit two 3-pointers, but Hammonton kept the game close, and trailed 29-22 at the break.
The third period saw the Blue Devils close the gap, as Mauriello and Hill hit 3-pointers and Gavin West connected on a pair of treys, including one late in the quarter that cut St. Joseph’s lead to 44-40 heading into the fourth quarter.
Hammonton faltered in the final period, however, as St. Joe upped the pace, began hitting shots and forcing the action. The Wildcats closed the game on a 13-3 run.
“They wore us down, much like the first game,” Hammonton coach Joe Martino said.
“I’m proud of our kids. They hustled and worked hard for four quarters against a very good team,” Martino said.
The win was St. Joseph’s eighth-straight.
“We came out with a win. We’ve struggled early in games recently, and Hammonton played us tough. That’s what we expect from them. Joe [Martino] and their staff do a great job preparing their kids and their players give a great effort. Every time we play them, we know we’re going to get their best effort and we saw that tonight,” Rodio said.
Four Wildcats scored in double figures, led by Marcus Pierce’s 15. Jordan Stafford added 12 and Rodriguez and Dom Thomas had 10 each.
Ja’son Prevard added five points and 11 rebounds in the win.
For Hammonton, Hill and Mauriello each had 12 points, while West added nine.