The Falcons took on the Hawthorne Bears on Thursday night at The Nest. After a hard-fought game, the boys were able to out-dual the Bears, forcing their way into the state semifinals with a 63-53 win.
One rumor about the Hawthorne team coming into the game was that they played tough and were vultures on defense. That rumor would live to be true against Jefferson Thursday night. Through their tough play, the Falcons were still able to stay composed and come out with a win.
“I thought our guys did a great job keeping composed and finishing out the game,” coach Joe DiGennaro said postgame.
Senior sharpshooter Matt Moran led the way for Jefferson as he tallied 19 points against the Bears.
“I knew I had to step up when Mattie (Johnson) was in foul trouble, and I was just hitting the shots at the right time,” Moran said on his 19-point performance.
Not far behind Moran was senior Sean Whalen, who again dominated the boards and also added 15 points for the Falcons.
The Falcone went right to work, soaring to a quick lead early in the first. The Falcons’ offense was able to have quick answers an constant against the uncommon and tough Hawthorne defense. Ready to close the half, the Falcons had a demanding 30-13 lead.
Shortly after, to finish the half, senior Sean Whalen hit a long two pointer with ten seconds left, then followed that with a nice block on the defensive side to shut down Hawthorne and head into halftime with a commanding 39-20 lead.
Again in the third the Falcons would hold down Hawthorne. The Falcons and Bears would see some sparks fly. Both Jefferson and Hawthorne would get into some arguments in the third as the emotions flared up into the loud crowd for both teams. The Falcons came out of the quarter the quarter leading led 47-31.
After the emotional third, the Bears would keep that tension and use it against the Falcons in the fourth. Hawthorne went on a major run early in the quarter and stormed back to cut the Jefferson lead to just nine points with a little under five minutes remaining.
That is when the Falcons would stop playing games. Jefferson continuously drew fouls against the Bears and got to the free throw line an insane amount in the fourth in order to hold onto a 63-53 win.
“You just have to take it like any other free throw,” Whalen said about stepping up to the line late. “I think the more you think about it the harder it gets.”
After his stellar and much needed performance over Hawthorne, my player of the game goes to Sean Whalen. The center again had a double-double, killing the rebound category again. “I think I was able to outbody their guys,” Whalen said. With double digit rebounds, Whalen also tallied 15 points and was the second highest scorer for J-Town.
After a bigtime win over Hawthorne, the Falcons task gets even harder come Saturday. Jefferson will head to Pascack Hills to take on the second seed with a chance to clinch a state finals bid.