DELRAN--- At this point in the basketball season, every little detail is analyzed with eyes on the postseason.
Although Burlington City didn’t play the prettiest game of basketball on Saturday, it came away with a valuable boost in the form of a 38-37 win over Haddon Heights at Holy Cross Prep.
The Blue Devils dealt with a poor shooting day by locking down on defense and giving themselves an opportunity to come out on top.
“I’ve been preaching defense all year, but particularly since the Bordentown game, where we gave up 85 points,” Burlington City head coach Paul Collins said. “That leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
“We have to play better defensively to win a game like this. We’ve been digging in on defense the last 7-8-9 practices and it shows. We play defense. If we play enough defense in a game like this, we’re going to have a shot in the end of winning a basketball game.”
Mike Green was the standout defender for the Blue Devils, as he played lock-down defense on Haddon Heights’ TeSean Pressley, who had 11 points at halftime.
“I came in the locker room and took it upon myself,” Green said. “I told myself that he wasn’t going to score again. I did it.”
By holding off whatever the Garnets threw at them, the Blue Devils had a chance to win in the final minute.
D.J. Woodbury, who admittedly didn’t have the best shooting day, knocked down a three-pointer with 29 seconds left to cut Haddon Heights’ lead to one point.
“Coach just kept me calm and told me it’s going to come so he drew a play up, gave me the ball and I followed through and made it,” Woodbury said.
With 10 seconds left on the clock, Woodbury cut through the lane and scored the game-winning layup after City forced a turnover with its defensive pressure.
“Words can’t explain DJ,” Green said. “He’s a great leader on and off the court. I love being around him in the locker room. He’s just a great person in general and I had trust in him making the shots.”
By dealing with offensive struggles and playing strong defense, the Blue Devils gained a valuable confidence boost as they prepare for the Central Jersey Group 1 playoffs.
“This is real big for state implications,” Green said. “Coach told us coming into this game it was going to be a dog fight. This is just preparing us to make a run in states.”
But Saturday’s game isn’t the final test for City, as it still has Sterling, Moorestown, Westampton Tech and Haddonfield on its schedule before the start of the postseason.
“We’re going to see teams of this caliber in the state tournament,” Collins said. “You have to be tested. In the last third of the season, we have four or five like this.”