Friday night — in preparation for a registration event at the school — tables were spread across the Paul VI basketball court right where the Eagles boys’ basketball team would have practiced that night.
The Eagles didn’t have a court to play on the night before the big game against Moorestown. So coach Tony Devlin scheduled an added film session, and his players homed in on the Quakers’ key scorers, their crisp, active offensive flow and tough on-ball defense.
Something about that session clicked with the players.
“We were prepared for everything they brought out,” said sophomore guard Jaden Arline.
Of course, that’s just one factor that led to the Eagles’ 60-35 trouncing of visiting Moorestown on Saturday afternoon.
Moorestown, ranked No. 2 in South Jersey by The Inquirer, entered the afternoon with a 20-game winning streak and a 23-1 record.
But the Quakers were outplayed in nearly every facet by an energized Paul VI team, which came in with a 17-6 record and ranked No. 4 in South Jersey by The Inquirer.
“Moorestown is a solid team all around,” said Paul VI junior guard Jalen Boyd-Savage. “This game is a big win for us confidence-wise going into the postseason, and we’re going to need it.”
The win continues the surge of momentum Paul VI has built during its last nine games in which its only loss has been to state juggernaut Camden.
Arline chipped in 10 points off the bench on Saturday, while Boyd-Savage led all scorers with 25 points, four assists and four steals.
“Last couple of games, I’ve been in a slump, so I just felt like I owed it to my teammates to get back on the horse,” Boyd-Savage said.
Moorestown scored the game’s first five points and was leading by two points at the end of the first quarter. But, after that quick burst by Moorestown to start the game, it was all Paul VI.
The Eagles entered the fourth quarter ahead by 37-28. At that point the team’s energy, which was rising throughout, hit full throttle.
The Eagles’ pace stood out, their desire and ability to push the tempo. By the end of the game, it was as if Eagles had fully figured out Moorestown.
Arline came up with a steal and layup within the first 10 seconds of the quarter.
With 4 minutes, 29 seconds left, Arline again scored in transition off a feed by Boyd-Savage, who came up with a steal.
“We had a lot of energy today, and we need these kinds of games against these kinds of teams. Moorestown is a really, really good team,” Devlin said. “This is the type of game that’s going to help get us ready for the playoffs.”
Logan Jagodzinski led Moorestown with 12 points, but eight of those 12 points were scored in the first quarter before Paul VI locked down Moorestown’s primary scorers for the rest of the game.
For the Quakers, the defending Group 3 state champion, there was a bright side to the loss. With the playoffs just around the corner, this might be a needed wakeup call.
“That’s the reason we scheduled this game,” Jagodzinski said. “We wanted a challenge — a reality check — going into the playoffs. And this was the game to do that.
“We have to be more ready for games like this.”
Moorestown 13 9 6 7 — 35
Paul VI 11 15 11 23 — 60
M: Kevin Muhic 8, Evan Francisco 2, Shane Knobloch 3, Logan Jagodzinski 12, Moe Airall 3, Hayden Greer 7.