The Jefferson Falcons snagged their third win in a row with a huge victory over the Newton Braves, moving the team up again to an 11-6 record. The Braves fell to just 7-13 on the year.
The story of the night was Falcon senior guard Joe Batelli, who went down in Jefferson history by joining the 1,000-point club. He came into the game 14 points away from the elusive 1K and finished the night with 19, giving himself breathing room. Senior guard Richard Botti and forward Matthew Johnson also contributed for the Falcons, each adding 10 points. The Braves were led by senior sharpshooter Alex Rivas, who tallied 17 points, and JD Heller, who contributed 11.
The Falcons and Batelli got off to an extremely fast start. They opened the quarter with many steals and blocks on the defensive end, leading to quick and easy buckets for the Falcons. Johnson finished the first quarter with three blocks. The second quarter was more of the same action for the Falcons, who headed to halftime leading dominantly 29-8.
The Braves began to draw closer in the third quarter as Rivas and Heller nailed two 3-pointers each, drawing attention back to the score. However, all that attention went right back to Batelli when he nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with just seven seconds remaining – finally achieving 1,000 points. Following a brief intermission to honor Batelli, the game continued play in the fourth quarter. Rivas and the Braves fought, but it was no use. J-Town secured the victory with a final score of 53-42.
After the win, Coach DiGennaro spoke about the team’s turnaround. “It’s just great; we’re still in first for the league right now and we have two league games left to get,” he said. “We might be playing our best basketball right now, and it is definitely at the right time.”
Batelli commented on the game, “Newton is a great team and this was a big conference win. A loss would have put us in a tougher position, so it was a great win.”
The Falcons travel to High Point on Thursday, February 7, while Newton attempts to avenge its loss against Wallkill on the same night.
This story was written by Johnny Knox, a student at Jefferson Township High School.