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Hammonton boys basketball upsets Haddonfield at Seagull Classic behind Kenny Smith’s 18 points

Hammonton High School sophomore Kenny Smith attempts a free throw against Haddonfield in the Seagull Classic at Holy Spirit High School in Absecon, New Jersey on Saturday, January 7, 2023. Lukas Guerrier/D2 Sports Network

ABSECON (N.J.) - Hammonton High School sophomore Kenny Smith rose to South Jersey stardom on the gridiron last fall.

The standout running back racked up 1,670 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground, and was named a South Jersey Sports Zone All-South Jersey First Team selection.

The sophomore can get the job done on the basketball court, too.

Smith tallied a game-high 18 points as the Blue Devils upset Haddonfield, 45-37, in the Seagull Classic at Holy Spirit High School on Saturday.

He scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half and contributed three rebounds, an assist and a steal.

Smith notched seven straight points after Haddonfield rallied to take a 28-27 lead on a free throw from Nate Rohlfing. Smith splashed a triple that gave Hammonton a 30-28 advantage and the Blue Devils didn't surrender their lead.

"No. 3 stepped up," assistant coach Christian Mortellite said. "No. 3's a little bit different than everyone else. He's a special kid.

"He's a football player, but when he's on the court he's a point guard. He makes everybody else better. He makes our team better. He defends, he scraps and rebounds, he makes good passes and he can score the ball at a very good level."

Hammonton improved its record to 6-2. The Blue Devils have won three out of their last four contests.

"It's a statement win for sure," Smith said. "That's what I would call it. A statement win.

"We can play with anybody. Anybody, anywhere. That's the statement we try to make."

Hammonton forced 12 turnovers and held the Haddons to 5-for-16 shooting in the first half.

The Blue Devils also generated 12 points off of turnovers and outscored their opponent 18-10 in the fourth quarter.

"We got tough kids," Mortellite said. "These kids want to grind it out and win. That locker room is very tight, very together. When you see that as a coach, you know your team is really coming together."

Bryce Nicholson accumulated 10 points and seven rebounds in the victory. Tyler Lowe contributed five points, five rebounds and three assists. Tavonne Barber scored eight points and collected three rebounds for Hammonton.

Sam Narducci led the Bulldawgs with a team-best 14 points.

The Blue Devils withstood Haddonfield's unique combination of length and adequate shooting by properly defending screens and rotating precisely on defense.

"A lot of talking on the screens," Smith said. "Bryce and the bigs stepped up."

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