The Hackettstown Tigers came into J-Town to visit the Falcons to open both teams’ season on Friday, December 20. In a tough fought battle that came down to the wire, it was the Tigers who came out victorious with a 54-49 win over Jefferson.
Hackettstown was led offensively by Tyler Kirkpatrick, who finished the night with 14 points. After that, the offense was spread very evenly for the Tigers between Tyler Gorczyca and Jalen Bapsite, who both finished with 11. The Falcons were led by the two Matts, in Matt Moran who tallied 17, and Mattie Johnson who finished with 14.
Both teams had to wear off the rust in the first quarter. In what was a very slow quarter, the Falcons’ only true spark was when senior David Hanna swatted a Tigers shot, and moved down the other end and dished the ball off to Buddy Jacobus, who got the Falcons on the board with their first points of the season.
After the first eight minutes, the Falcons’ offense started to pick it up, with their defense remaining strong. The Falcons went up by double digits in the quarter, and seemed to have figured it out. To cap off the strong quarter, Johnson nailed an off balanced buzzer-beating two to give the Falcons a 27-19 lead heading into halftime.
Hackettstown kicked it into gear in the second half. Kirkpatrick led the team, as he was all over the court making plays on the defensive and offensive side of the ball for the Tigers. However, the Falcons would keep at it as they closed out the quarter still leading by 10.
The fourth quarter was all H-Town as the Tigers forced turnover after turnover, forcing their way back into the contest. Kirkpatrick and Gorczyca led the way for Hackettstown in the fourth, storming the Tigers to within one point with 2:30 was remaining on the clock. This is when the game got slow.
The Falcons were already in the double bonus, due to tight calling by the referee, and J-Town was able to force a lot of fouls late and get to the foul line. The Tigers wouldn’t be turned away, as Kirkpatrick would knock down a three to keep them afloat before Gorczyca would nail another dagger putting the game away for H-Town, 54-49.
Hackettstown has little time to enjoy their victory, as the Tigers move onto Kittatinny Saturday night. As for the Falcons, they have time to recuperate from their loss as they wait for their annual holiday tournament to start next week.