Haddon Heights wins with a closing flurry
Led by guards Davon Jones and Brandon Joyner, the Garnets won their own tourney.
In a tight game, late in the fourth quarter, after missing two free throws, Davon Jones was angry.
"I was mad at myself. I knew I had to make up for it," he said.
It didn't take long.
On the next possession, Jones - looking the way he felt - stripped the ball, raced down the court, and was fouled while converting a layup. And, icing on the cake, he made the free throw.
"Last year, I don't know if I would have been able to do that," the Haddon Heights senior said.
Jones scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter of a 63-52 win over Burlington Township at home Thursday night in the Garnet and Gold Tournament boys' basketball final.
Jones, his teammates, and his coach, Mike Ricci, agree: This team learned how to win.
"We have faith in each other. We believe that we can win," said junior guard Brandon Joyner, who netted 19 points. "Last year, we would have been flustered in a close game in the fourth quarter. Tonight, we were just ready to play."
Jones and Joyner said that they want to make a name for themselves this year, that they want to be known as one of the best backcourts in South Jersey. Thursday, they certainly played with the confidence and poise to do so.
"We have chemistry," Joyner said of his relationship with Jones. "I don't think anybody can stop me and Davon.
"This is the first year we've really been able to show everybody who we are."
Joyner converted a four-point play on the game's first possession, and Haddon Heights led until Burlington Township (4-2), paced by Jalon Wilson's 18 points, went up by 50-49 with 3 minutes, 9 seconds left in the game.
The Garnets (5-0) then leaned on what allowed them to control most of the first three quarters: their inside game.
Haddon Heights scored the game's final 14 points. That stretch featured a put-back by Darrian Pierce off a missed free throw, a drive by Joyner, and Jones dominating on both ends of the floor.
"The kids showed some resiliency. We just continued to play hard," Ricci said. "And Davon was just spectacular in the fourth quarter. In my opinion, he's one of the top players in South Jersey, and he showed that tonight."
The 6-foot-2 Jones also had 14 rebounds. The Garnets' ability to dominate the paint allowed them to take a 15-point lead into halftime.
"It's frustrating that we dug ourselves such a big hole in the first half," Burlington Township coach Scott Kupersmit said. "Giving up offensive rebounds killed us."
Burlington Township clawed back into the game with a 15-3 run to open the second half.
The game stayed close until Haddon Heights broke it open in the final three minutes.
"Our third quarter was sketchy. We came out a little lax," said Jones, who is fielding Division I offers. "But we came out and played hard in the fourth quarter.
"My coach told me to help rebound down there with our big guys, and I did. But I just wanted to get the win. And it's nice that we were able to pull it out."
Burlington Twp. 9 9 17 17 – 52
Haddon Heights 17 16 7 23 – 63
BT: Remi Odulana 5, Jalon Wilson 18, Kristoff Smith 8, Brandon Roche 4, Jalen Ferguson 3, Dayne Turner 2, Josh Grewal 2, Ka'Dar Hollman 10.
HH: Brandon Joyner 19, Darrian Pierce 8, Davon Jones 29, Dante Pinkney 2, Sean Sack 1, Lucian Brownlee 4.