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Haddon Heights boys basketball withstands second half surge by Paulsboro to complete season sweep

HADDON HEIGHTS (N.J.) - The Haddon Heights boys basketball team looked to continue its winning ways after a bounce back victory over West Deptford.

Jake Silvestri tallied a game-high 19 points as Haddon Heights withstood a Paulsboro comeback effort to earn a 61-58 win at Haddon Heights High School in Haddon Heights, New Jersey on Thursday, February 9, 2023. Chris Baker/D2 Sports Network

The goal was fulfilled with a 61-58 win over Paulsboro on Thursday night. The Garnets have won 11 out of their last 13 contests and improved their record to 16-7.

Haddon Heights won the first matchup against the Red Raiders, 45-44 in overtime, as coach Mike Ricci earned his 400th career win. The Garnets knew they were in for another battle.

The first half was lopsided as Haddon Heights opened the contest on a 16-2 run and headed into halftime with a 35-14 advantage.

Paulsboro responded as Antonio Pandolfo hit three consecutive 3-pointers to open the second half to narrow the deficit. The Red Raiders went on many runs to cut into the lead, but Heights did not budge.

The Garnets hit a stalemate down the homestretch while Paulsboro's Ja'Vonn Osbourne caught fire. Osbourne poured in 12 of his team-high 17 points in the fourth quarter which provided Paulsboro with a chance to tie the contest with Jamile Gantt at the free throw line. Gantt knocked down a pair of free-throws with under a minute left to help the Red Raiders even the count at 57-57.

Damir Outterbridge responded with a contested layup to give Haddon Heights the lead back. Gantt made another free throw, but missed his second attempt and the Garnets grabbed the missed shot.

Jake Silvestri scored a game-high 19 points for Haddon Heights including a pair of free throws to secure the triumph.

Complacency and the response to adversity summed up Haddon Heights' performance in the second half.

"I think we played just about as perfect of a half you can play in the first half," Ricci said. "Then in the second half we came out flat and Paulsboro came out swinging.

"We needed to do better. I told the guys at halftime, 'do not take your foot off the gas,' but nonetheless our guys pulled out the win, so we'll work on it moving forward. I'm not shocked Paulsboro made a run in the second half. Daryus (Quarles) does a great job over there; you can never ever count them out with him as a head coach. He always has his players prepared."

Outterbridge and Ben Carr each added 17 for the Garnets in the victory.

Silvestri was confident in his shot as evidenced by hitting three 3-pointers, and multiple contested jump shots and layups.

"I think this was a big win for us," Silvestri said. "Sweeping Paulsboro for the season with playoffs around the corner will give us the power points we need and (help us) keep climbing the ladder."

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