The River Dell Golden Hawks Varsity Boys Basketball Team(13-4, 5-1 Big North Patriot) faced the Park Ridge Owls(12-5, 5-2 NJIC Patriot) in the first round of the Bergen County Jamboree at River Dell High School in Oradell, New Jersey.
River Dell was coming off a 51-36 win over Ramsey, extending the Golden Hawk’s winning streak to six games. Senior Matt Kelleher poured in a game-high 18 points.
In the first quarter, River Dell fell behind early, 5-0 but responded with an emphatic 11-0 run to take the lead. The Golden Hawks, with a balanced scoring effort led by senior Andrew Lezaja, scored five points to spearhead the spurt. By the time the period ended, River Dell was up 13-8.
“We knew that Park Ridge would come out and play, so we didn’t underestimate them but did come out slow in the first quarter, and that was rough for us, Andrew Lezaja explained.
Senior Larson Walker buried a trifecta to boost the Golden Hawk’s advantage to 16-8; Park Ridge ignited a rebuttal with a 10-0 run to reclaim the lead. River Dell junior Sean Golden knocked down a jumper to tie the game up at 18-18.
The Owls jumped back in front with a quick 4-0 run to regain the advantage. With the Golden Hawks leading 22-21 late in the quarter, Park Ridge senior Zach Mallis drained a triple to put the Owls ahead 24-23 at halftime.
Head Coach Ron Van Saders on the first half, “I thought we got outplayed in the first half and I challenged the players to start the second half.”
Once the third quarter got underway, Park Ridge upped their lead to 30-25, but once again, River Dell answered back with a thunderous 12-0 run. The Golden Hawks were on fire from behind the arc, sinking three treys with Andrew Lezaja unleashing two. Sean Golden punctuated it with a steal and transition lay-up.
The Golden Hawks fed off the energy and enthusiasm from a packed home crowd with the student section behind the River Dell players and coaching staff bench and opposite with parents in the bleachers and administrative officials.
“The fan turnout really gives us a lot of energy and whenever you’re tired the crowd can really help us get energized, Andrew Lezaja noted. River Dell has some loyal fans and we’re very grateful for that.”
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