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Washington Twp. boys scramble Egg Harbor Twp. in Haddons tourney

Rich Racobaldo collected 11 points, eight rebounds and three assists in Washington Township's 68-41 victory over Egg Harbor Township on Tuesday.

Rich Racobaldo collected 11 points, eight rebounds and three assists in Washington Township's 68-41 victory over Egg Harbor Township on Tuesday.

His coach was more impressed with the charge he took.

NaQuan McPherson led all scorers with 17 points and soared through the lane for a couple of acrobatic layups for the Minutemen in the first round of the Haddons Invitational basketball tournament at Haddonfield High School.

His coach was more impressed with his time on the floor, scrambling for loose balls.

"A team needs its best players to be its hardest workers," Washington Township coach Matt Kiser said. "With Rich and Naquan, I see that."

Racobaldo and McPherson are the most experienced and accomplished athletes to take the floor for the Minutemen.

They are talented and versatile, too, as evidenced by their strong all-around play in an imposing victory for the Minutemen over the Eagles.

But Kiser said the best thing about his senior leaders is their full embrace of the program's "blue-collar" ethos of hard work and scrappy play.

"It starts in practice," Racobaldo said. "When we have a one-on-one drill, we'll go against each other, push each other, set an example for everybody about how hard we need to go if we're going to be successful this season."

Racobaldo and McPherson led the way as Washington Township (2-1), the No. 16 team in the Inquirer Top 25, won its second in a row after a season-opening, one-point loss to then-No. 5 Bishop Eustace.

Senior forward Nick Foti scored 10 with seven rebounds, and senior guard Josh Garner scored nine and played a solid floor game for Washington Township, which meets Pennsauken Thursday in second round of the showcase-style event in Haddonfield's historic gymnasium.

Senior forward Angel Colon scored 13 for Egg Harbor Township (2-2).

Racobaldo and McPherson were role players last season for a Washington Township team that featured nine seniors, including first-team all-South Jersey guard Spencer Cook. Those Minutemen went 25-4, captured the Olympic American title and advanced to the South Jersey Group 4 semifinals.

These Minutemen are a different team, with Racobaldo and McPherson stepping into leadership roles while surrounded by players with virtually no varsity experience.

"Rich and I talked about it at the end of last year," McPherson said. "We knew we were going to have to be the ones to lead the way."

Racobaldo and McPherson have played basketball together since the sixth grade. They have a strong rapport on the court and a similar approach to the sport.

"When you see Rich taking a charge, when you see Naquan diving on the floor, that tells you what kind of players they are," Kiser said. "They understand if they play that way, it rubs off on the other guys.

"We're a blue-collar team that plays hard, works hard. Those guys establish that for us."

Racobaldo generated five points, four rebounds and two assists in the first quarter as Washington Township seized command of the game.

McPherson's big quarter was the third, when he buried a three-point jumper, sliced in the lane for pair of layups and sank both of his free throws.

Both players sat out most of the fourth quarter as Kiser emptied his bench.

"A lot of people say, 'Oh, you lost all those guys from last year. This is a rebuilding year,' " Racobaldo said. "We don't look at it that way. We think this team can go as far as we did last year, if not farther."

Washington Twp. 23 11 21 13 - 68

Egg Harbor Twp. 7 14 11 9 - 41

WT: NaQuan McPheron 17, Rich Racobaldo 11, Nick Foti 10, Josh Garner 9, Brandon Hickson 10, Mario Arizzi 3, Ryan Boylan 1, Connor Hughes 2, Asante Russell 2, Giancarlo Viesti 3.

EHT: Angel Colon 13, Drew Hickman 7, Mike Neilsen 2, Jordan Sweeney 2, Malik White 4, Jorany Perdomo 3, Isaiah Walsh 4, Dimitrius Parish 3, Brandon Oliver 3.