CHERRY HILL – Through three games of the South Jersey Group 2 Tournament, the Haddonfield boys’ basketball team had seen its share of quality guard play.
In the opener against Cape May Tech, the Bulldawgs held Josh Wright to just six points, then Haddon Heights came at Haddonfield with Jared Letane, who managed nine points and then, in the semifinals, in a hotly contested overtime affair with Camden, the Dawgs held Cory Greer to just five points.
While Lower Cape May isn’t as talented or deep as Camden, Haddonfield knew that the one thing the Tigers could do was shoot from range. That is especially true of senior Patrick Holden who entered the night with an average of 22.9 points per game.
“We knew they could shoot,” said junior guard Mike DePersia, who scored 10 points on the night. “Holden is a quality player and we needed to keep him in check. I think we did a pretty good job tonight.”
Haddonfield, the second seed in the bracket, jumped to an early 12-point lead and never looked back in a 63-45 win over the visiting Tigers to secure the first South Jersey title in 11 years.
“This one I may have a better perspective on,” Haddonfield head coach Paul Weideman said. “We won five in my first eight seasons. This is a good group of kids and tonight we came out strong and you know what, we had too.”
In front of a sold out gym at Cherry Hill East High School, Haddonfield’s gym is under renovation, the Bulldawgs jumped to an early 12-0 lead.
“it was loud,” DePersia said. “They brought a couple of busses and add on our crowd and it was one of the loudest atmosphere’s I’ve played in. We knew they could shoot from outside so we wanted to establish early on what we could do.”
It took Lower Cape May 6:17 to score its first points in large part due to strong defensive pressure in the half court and a size advantage inside that prevented any easy rebounds. With the lead, Haddonfield (27-3) dictated play as the combination of DePersia and Lewis Evans – who added seven points – contained Holden, who still finished with 19 points.
“He ended up with his points but those two made him work really hard,” Weideman said. “That’s the type of defense we expect and one we will have to keep playing if we hope to reach our biggest goals.”
“We worked really hard this week,” DePersia said. “That win over Camden was really big for us but we all knew that we weren’t done. It’s been a long time since we’ve been in this spot and we aren’t looking for a break or a letdown. We’ve already begun to prepare for the next round, we’ve already looked at tape. I’m guessing Rumson won (it did) because they were favored. We’ll be ready.”
Haddonfield junior Mike DePersia who had 10 points in Haddonfield's 63-45 win over Lower Cape May
Bulldawgs 63, Tigers 45
Lower Cape May 4--11--14--16----45
Lower Cape: Martin Angelov 3, Justin Cardeleria 7, Patrick Holden 19, Khamar Matthews 7, Pat Moore 9.
Haddonfield: Aiden Blake 16, Will Bond 14, Mike DePersia 10, Dan Fleming 9, Dylan Heine 7, Lewis Evans 7.