Another chapter in the Hopatcong-Lenape Valley rivalry was written when the Chiefs Varsity Basketball defeated the Patriots in a close battle on the hardwood, 39-36. The band was playing, the crowd was loud, and the Chiefs’ fast defense prevailed in the low-scoring game.
There was a buzz in the gym, a buzz full of energy and excitement. The boys’ game had been delayed roughly 20 minutes due to a referee being late. But that only enabled more students and fans to get to the game before tip-off. By the time the game started, the #ChiefNation student section was packed–all the way to the top of the stands.
The first quarter was fast-paced but there wasn’t much scoring. Senior center Ryan Clarke scored the first bucket for the Chiefs right after Lenape had knocked down a 3 pointer to open the scoring. Senior forward Sawyer Guard then hit a turnaround jump shot to give the Chiefs the lead right before the buzzer.
In the second quarter, Hopatcong opened up to a 15-5 lead behind exciting play for junior guard Tobi Olugbenga. He blocked a dunk attempt by a Lenape player and then later hit a three-in transition. Clarke followed up with the “Block Party” by having a total of 7 blocks in the quarter. This had the crowd chanting “You Got Swatted.” The Chiefs went into the half with a 17-9 lead.
The second half was a totally different story. Lenape came out hot behind the shooting of senior guard Brian Atehortua. The Chiefs committed several turnovers, and the Patriots took advantage of that. The defense was still playing well, for both sides, and the lead kept changing hands.
With 8.5 seconds left, senior guard Pat McNamara went to the free throwing line, hitting one of his two shots. The Chiefs led 39-36 with just seconds remaining. Lenape called timeout to set up a play. Play resumed and Lenape got the shot they wanted, but couldn’t convert. Clarke grabbed the rebound and threw the ball up in the air as time expired. The Chiefs had prevailed in the crosstown rivalry game. Fans rushed the court to celebrate with their friends. It was a great time to be a part of #ChiefNation.
“It was a great win for us,” said Olugbenga,.“ The crowd was awesome and we really wanted to win the game. Especially it being against Lenape, it was important to not only us, but the school, that we win this game.”
The school has also just received news that Lenape and Hopatcong will now play each other in football; they have not played each other since the SCIL broke up. They have played in every sport except football; it is now safe to say that the rivalry between the two schools that are only a mere 2 miles apart from one another will continue.
“The fact that we now play them in football next year really made the basketball game much more intense, “ said junior forward Jon Yanko, who doubles as a tight end and linebacker for the Chiefs’ football team. “We officially got the news at our banquet and most of the guys on the team who are coming back, or are about to graduate, got real excited over it. They brought that energy to the game. Hopefully this rivalry heats up by the time we meet Week 3 next year.”
The Chiefs who improved to 2-5, have since improved to 4-6. Lenape and Hopatcong will go at it again February 6 at Lenape High School. Go Chiefs #ChiefNation!