MOORESTOWN - Matteo Mongeluzi didn’t score until there was less than eight seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The Moorestown High School senior connected on a 3-pointer from the right wing to give the Quakers a 35-34 lead over No. 8 Paul VI after three quarters.
The shot proved to be the difference maker as No. 10 Moorestown never trailed again and held off the Eagles, 53-50, to win its eighth consecutive game on Tuesday night.
The Quakers trailed by a point at intermission and stormed out to a 28-22 lead via a 7-0 run over the first 45 seconds of the second half. Paul VI responded with a 12-4 run to take a 34-32 lead with less than a minute remaining in the third period before Mongeluzi gave Moorestown the lead for good.
“I was feeling it,” Mongeluzi said. “I was feeling it in warmups and I shot the ball and I knew it was going in.”
The senior drilled his second triple of the contest early in the fourth quarter to give the Quakers a 40-36 advantage. He only finished with six points, but all of his six were contributed in pivotal moments.
“When I hit my first shot I always feel like I’m getting hot,” Mongeluzi said. “So after that I just kept shooting.”
The eighth straight victory came three days after senior Moe Airall sunk a 30-plus foot runner at the buzzer to stun then-No. 3 Egg Harbor Township, 56-54, at the Coaches vs. Cancer Showcase at Holy Cross Prep Academy. A week earlier, Moorestown avenged an early season loss to No. 12 Burlington Township with a 47-46 decision to seize control of the Burlington County Scholastic League Liberty Division.
Tuesday night’s victory augmented the resume.
“Eight games ago the kids kind of (began to) believe in themselves a little bit,” Moorestown coach Shawn Anstey said. “When that happens only good things can happen to a team. We started playing together well, making shots. As you know we play a lot of guys. Playing a lot of guys is difficult to do, but everybody’s engaged waiting for their turn. I’m pretty happy with how they’re playing right now at this point of the season.”
David Gheysens hit a pair of free throws to seal the victory with 6.6 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The junior contributed a game-high 15 points and Airall, Saturday’s hero, added 10.
Gheysens was a flawless 3-for-3 from the free throw line in the final stanza. His contributions helped the Quakers protect their lead in the closing seconds.
“I think it’s just staying together as a team,” Gheysens said. “Moving the ball, being smart with it towards the end of the game. In practice we run a lot of last minute drills. I think that helped prepare us.”
Freshman Judah Hidalgo guided the Eagles with a team-high 13 points. Logan Clark and Cairo Rivera added 12 points apiece.
Moorestown could secure its second straight outright BCSL Liberty Division title with a victory over Rancocas Valley on Friday. The Quakers are projected to be the top seed in the South Jersey Group 3 sectional playoffs and have huge matchups looming with St. Joseph Academy and No. 3 Lenape.
“We have a lot of tough teams coming up at the end (of the regular season),” Anstey said. “It’s always good to get some of these top teams in South Jersey to play against before the playoffs. To win these games is great to see where our team is and I like where we are right now.”