Got there about 6:10 pm…. My Bro, Gene Lett came through! He made sure I had a ticket for the game… You had to have a plan or a hook up… Couldn’t show up and buy a ticket… Naaah…Not that night…
The South Jersey Group 2 title game between Camden and Haddonfield on Monday night at Cherry Hill East High School was HUGE!
The line to enter the game was a couple hundred deep over an an hour before tip-off… Keep in mind, these were people with tickets in their hand…
There were ABSOLUTELY no tickets available for purchase… Every square inch of the gym was accounted for… Here is a quick pan of the energetic and considerably swollen crowd…
Literally, this was the hottest ticket in town…
The meager number allotted to the respective schools were swallowed within minutes of release. And then… Shit got a lil’ weird.
At Haddonfield High School, you had to present a driver’s license with a Haddonfield address to purchase a ticket to a basketball game… If you had an acceptable address, you were allowed to purchase exactly one ticket…
RULES… Conceived, drafted and implemented in a day… Intended to advantage some and disadvantage others…
Some complained… strongly… Haddonfield, clearly, wanted to ensure that it’s fans were taken care of… I don’t blame them… With a suitable venue, between the two schools, they could have easily sold in excess of 4,000 tickets for this contest.
The Camden and Haddonfield communities support their basketball programs in a very big way!
Haddonfield also has a Championship team. Now… Here is where you say predictable things about a predominantly white basketball team… Shit like, they are well coached and unselfish… They play a structured, disciplined and patient brand of basketball. They avoid turnovers.
All true… The team possesses those characteristics… and more. They can really fuckin’ play…
They entered the game with a record of 28-1. They defeated Camden last year for South Jersey Group 2 title… Haddonfield ain’t new to this.
As Camden faithful perform the autopsies, various causes of defeat are bandied about… For example, the Xs and Os of first year coach Vic Carstarphen have been openly discussed as the reason for the loss. Some question his decisions to switch defenses at key junctures. Others point to a perceived lack of focus among the high talented core group of players and fault the head coach.
It is worth noting that Lett, Brewer and Woodley never wore purple and gold before this season. Carstarphen had to integrate these players into a lineup featuring established starters Lance Ware and Ethan Tarte. On top of that, the volatile Woodley was unavailable for a couple stretches. Overall, Carstarphen did a solid job of blending disparate parts into a functioning unit over the course of the season. They just ran into a well-prepared and determined Haddonfield squad.
With his rookie campaign under his belt, one would expect to see Carstarphen continue to evolve and improve as a head coach.
Another frequently cited reason was the referees. Objectively speaking, the refs must bear some weight… In my estimation, over the first three quarters, the refs missed a LOT of calls… but they – more or less – missed ‘em on both ends.
As the game wound down to crunch time, they started calling fouls away from the basket…
Huh? What the fuck?
You didn’t see that aggravated assault under the other basket ’bout 7 minutes ago. There’s no denying it… There were some very bad calls. Nakedly so… More significantly, in the latter stage, the whistle was only blowing one way. The refs were a factor in the game… The refs did not determine the outcome.
There were other factors of equal or more significance.
For Camden, Nasir Lett cramped up and Ethan Tarte fouled out.
Subsequently, several Camden players repeatedly made poor decisions with the ball… They were in a hurry… They wanted the game to be over… There was no effort to milk the clock. Camden almost played as if they were down 10 instead of up 10.
Also, missed free throws were very costly. Especially by your best players… your stars.
All of the aforementioned played a role… But, what stood out to me was the fact that these white boys could play.
Haddington’s Mike DePersia ’19 (committed to D1 IUPUI) effectively dealt with relentless full court defensive pressure applied by El-Khana Hidalgo ’19. DePersia was heady and savvy while controlling the offense for Haddonfield. His leadership kept them together and within striking distance.
DePersia kept coming and coming… Behind, but determined.
Haddonfield hung around all night… While it felt like Camden was in control for three quarters, Haddonfield never let them out of their sight. More importantly, Haddonfield was “long” enough, “athletic” enough and competed hard on every play.
Lance Ware ’20, TaQuan Woodley ‘21 and Jerome Brewer ’21 give Camden a formidable Division 1 front court. These guys are skilled, long and very extremely athletic.
Didn’t matter… Haddonfield matched ’em…
So… What happened? How do we explain IT?
Camden was up by 11 with less than two minutes to play and lost the game.
Was it Carstarphen’s coaching? Was it the refs? Was it Tarte fouling out?
I watched every minute of the game… Here’s what I saw… This is what I will remember going forward…
Haddonfield’s Dan Fleming “bussed dey ass!”
Straight up… His fifth 3-pointer with eight seconds left in regulation forced the overtime. Fleming scored 16 of Haddonfield’s final 20 points.
Please… Take a moment and view some the highlights of Fleming’s magnificent performance…
That said… Camden still had multiple opportunities to win the game. Good clean shot attempts to win and or tie the ball game. They just wouldn’t fall.
Here you can watch the final minute of the game. It was a memorable and intense high school game.
I heard a lot of the chatter about Vic’s coaching… I’ve also heard how the refs “stole” the game from the Panthers.
Truth be told, if anyone asks me what happened… I’m gonna say Dan Fleming bussed dey ass…