The season finale for the Chiefs boys was a thriller and resulted in a much needed “W” for the squad. Hopatcong visited Dover for an out-of-conference matchup on February 27th; it would be both teams’ last regular season game before the State Playoffs began.
The Chiefs started off hot, with often-scoring in the first quarter by senior guard Pat McNamara. Getting to the hole looked easy, as Hopatcong took a double digit lead early on. The Tigers, however, responded, scoring many points in transition and cutting into the lead in the second quarter. The Chiefs maintained the lead behind a couple layups and a point ball from senior center Ryan Clarke.
McNamara and Clarke both continued to score out of the Halftime break, extending the lead to 12 points midway through the third quarter. But, Dover got back in the game with a furious comeback led by multiple shots from downtown and transitions layups. With under 20 seconds in the fourth quarter and down by one, Clarke, who finished with 16 points on the night, got an offensive rebound off a missed foul shot and got hacked, heading to the line and eventually tying up the ball game. The game went to overtime, tied at 52.
The first overtime had minimal scoring; in fact, each team only scored two points, meaning the game went to a second overtime, where McNamara stepped up big time, getting multiple buckets. He finished the game with 22 points. But, the play of the night was made with a mere 15 seconds left. The Chiefs were up by one and had to inbound the ball. Junior forward Jon Yanko in-bounded the ball to Clarke, who threw a dime to senior Sawyer Guard cutting to the hoop, finishing a tough layup and giving the Chiefs a three-point lead that would wind up being the difference, wining 62-59.
“This was a great win for us,” said McNamara. “With playoffs coming up next week, it was good to get our confidence up by beating a quality team like Dover.”
“It was a huge play; Ry made a great pass and I was able to lay it in,” said Guard, who played well all night and finished with 12 points, “just an overall big win for us.”
The Chiefs will head to play fellow Sussex county team High Point in the first round of the North 1, Group 2 playoffs. The teams have met before, with High Point nipping out a win by a score of 52-49. But the confidence of the team is high; they played well in the first matchup and had a 14 point lead late in the third quarter.
For all who would like to go, a fan bus will be available to the first 40 students. The price will be $10. It will be a big and exciting game Tuesday at 7 o’clock. Go Chiefs #ChiefNation!