The Jefferson Falcons stunned all of Morris County as they knocked off the top-seeded Delbarton on Saturday night, February 16. The Falcons held a comeback that led them to a 44-41 victory and a chance at the county championship.
Offensively, the Falcons were very spread out during the game. Tallying only 44 points, the Falcons still had three players in double digits: Joe Batelli (14), Matthew Johnson (12), and Richie Botti (11).
The Falcons looked to stay hot and come out ready to play. However, that was not the case. J-Town came out of the gate struggling against the Green Wave as Delbarton started with a quick 8-0 run five minutes into the game, and the Falcon offense had no answer early on. The Falcons made a bit of a run at the end of the quarter, shortening the lead to 10-7 Delbarton closing the quarter. The two squads remained close through the second, as neither team had much to show offensively.
In the third quarter, the game really took shape, although it remained low-scoring and the Falcons stayed behind for a big portion. However, with two minutes left, senior Joe Batelli came through with a strong bucket and the foul. Shortly after, junior Matthew Johnson knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Falcons their first lead of the game. That would quickly be diminished by the Green Wave, as Delbarton still led by three heading into the final eight minutes.
The Falcons continued to play from behind for most of the fourth quarter. However, with three minutes remaining, a lay-in by senior Paul Monaco gave the Falcons the lead. Although the Green Wave continued to fight, Batelli did not miss at the free throw line. He continued hitting his free throws, icing the game and securing the Falcons’ 44-41 victory.
“I felt very calm. That’s it, I’ve been there before and I knew I could hit those,” said “Joe B” on his free throws late in the game. About going to the county finals, he said, “It feels great – something we’ve been looking forward to all year. Now we’ve just got to play well next week, and hopefully we can get it done.”
Botti added, “Shooters gotta shoot. To get hot, you just need one and then it keeps coming.” He got off to a 0-3 start, but then finished with 11 points. “It’s about time. I know coach has faith in me, I have faith in me, and I know my teammates around me all buy in,” said Botti on his night.
“It was awesome to see them win,” said junior Matt Moran. “Yesterday we had a tough loss [referring to the junior varsity semi-final], but to get a comeback win against the top-seeded Delbarton? It’s just awesome to be a part of the team.”
The Falcons now must get prepared to face off against a very tough West Morris team Saturday, February 23 for the Morris County Championship.