HADDON TOWNSHIP – The Haddon Township girls basketball team is still three wins short of achieving any team’s ultimate goal – winning a state championship.
However, no matter how it all turns out, few would doubt that the Hawks already have enjoyed a productive season.
Led Friday by a 3-point barrage that involved a number players, the Hawks advanced to the South Jersey Group 1 championship with a 47-17 win over Palmyra.
“We moved the ball really well where we got the open looks,” said Haddon Township coach Tom Mulligan. “Our guards tonight moved it a little bit quicker. We’ve improved on that.”
When Palmyra came out trying to defend against the `three’ things only got worse.
“Before you know it, we were able to get stuff inside and we spread the floor a little bit more,” Mulligan said. “They play a really good zone, and we were well prepared for it.”
The victory set up a showdown for the sectional title on Monday against Colonial Conference Patriot Division rival Woodbury – a team the Hawks (24-4) have already beaten twice.
The No. 1 seed in the section, the Hawks left little room for No. 4 Palmyra to record an upset.
They blitzed the Panthers with a 19-2 first quarter run that featured five 3-point goals, including two from senior Karlee Hart.
“I said to the girls we have a target on our back, so we have to be a hungry dog,” Hart said. “We’re chasing that title, so we just have to be hungry every game, no matter who we’re playing.”
Hart ended up hitting three of the Hawks’ eight 3-point goals for the game, and she scored nine points as Mulligan emptied his bench in the second half.
“Karlee is not really an unsung hero because she does a lot of things for us,” Mulligan said. “She’s been part of a lot of wins and a lot of championships here.
Madison Bradley added nine points, and Grace Marshall, who usually leads the Hawks in scoring, chipped in with eight, with two 3-point goals.
Grayson Maroney added two 3-pointers and Lindsay Gretzinger chipped in with one, each hitting long-range shots in the decisive first quarter.
Marshall set the tone when she scored the Hawks’ first 3-point goal in the opening seconds.
“We know we have to find a way to score, whether it’s a 3-pointer or going inside,” Marshall said. “They were in a zone and whenever we were open we just shot the ball.
“We practice a lot and we shot the ball well tonight. It was because all of the practice we do at the 3-point shot.”
Mulligan takes pride in the fact that his team can score from both inside and outside.
When the Hawks want to go in the paint, they usually play a deliberate style and they call on Marshall to set up the inside players for baskets.
But when the outside bombs are falling, Mulligan has no problem with turning his shooters loose.
“When you look at our really big wins, we get a lot of points in the paint,” he said. “But when we can shoot the `three’ which a lot of people know and, when we do, we’re tough to beat on our court.”
Not only did the Hawks bury the Panthers offensively, but they all but shut them down on defense.
The Panthers scored only two points in the first half and were shut out in the second quarter.
With a 33-2 lead at the half, the Hawks had little else to do but wait for the clock to run out.
SJ Girls Group 1
Palmyra 2 0 3 12-17
Haddon Township 19 14 11 3-47
P: Taylor 2, Hawkins 1, Singleton 5, Shover 4, Livingston 1.
HT: Lindsey Gretzinger 4, Karlee Hart 9, Grayson Maroney 6, Madison Bradley 9, Peyton Maroney 1, Grace Marshall, Lindsay Roche 6, Karta Mulligan 2..