WOOD-RIDGE, NJ - Senior James Klenk’s basket with 1:32 remaining gave Hasbrouck Heights the lead for good, as the Aviators defeated Wood-Ridge 63-59, Thursday evening in Wood-Ridge.  The game was another wild affair between the two schools, that saw both teams go on huge runs throughout.

Anthony Palmer had 25 points for the Aviators, who improved to 10-6, 8-3 overall, on the season.  Anthony Marino led Wood-Ridge (5-10, 5-8) with 15 points.  

If you judged the game by the first seven minutes, you would expected an easy Hasbrouck Heights win, as the Aviators jumped to a 14-4 lead with a little less than two minutes remaining in the first half.  Marino hit a three-pointer to make it 14-7, but the fireworks erupted at the end of the first half.

Sign Up for E-News

Wood-Ridge's Marino attempted a buzzer beater at the end of the first quarter that was blocked by Klenk.  As the two teams went to the bench, Wood-Ridge protested that Marino had been fouled, and as the Heights team sat down on the bench, the referee informed Hasbrouck Heights that Marino had been fouled, and there would be three foul shots, with the court cleared.

The Heights bench was incensed by the late call and was charged with a technical foul for arguing.  The end result was Wood-Ridge’s Marino went to the foul line to shoot five foul shots and was awarded the ball to start the second quarter, over-riding the alternate possession arrow. Marino had four of the five foul shots, and the Aviators, despite a dominant first seven minutes of the quarter, led by three, 14-11.

The controversy at the end of the first quarter upped the intensity, which was already high, both on the court, and in the gym.  Ryan Sarver gave Wood-Ridge its first lead of the game, at 19-18 with 4:40 remaining in the quarter.   Matt Moretto answered right back for scoring just 17 seconds later to put the Aviators back in front.

The next possession for the Aviators Moretto took the ball to the basket and was fouled, where he completed the traditional three-point play and put the Aviators up four.  After Wood-Ridge’s Ryan Connelly made only the front end of a one-and-one, Moretto continued his scoring streak, giving the Aviators a five-point lead.  The run continued a minute later when Sal Xheraj hit a three-pointer, to give the Aviators some breathing room at 28-20.

John Whaley answered for the Blue Devils just eight seconds later, hitting on a three-pointer, and Luke Vu-Nguyen scored a half-minute later, and suddenly, it was a 28-25 point game.

Johnny Capozzi hit a layup with three second remaining in the half for the Aviators to give Heights a 30-25 halftime lead.

The third quarter, was much-like the beginning of the game, with Heights dominating play.  The Aviators opened with two baskets from freshman Kunga Tsering, and one from Moretto to open up an 11-point lead.  Tsering, who was in foul trouble again early in the game, was a presence on defense, blocking four shots on the day.

After Jack Barteck nailed a three for the Blue Devils, the Aviators went on another run, this time putting up seven unanswered, to give the Aviators a 15-point lead with 3:35 remaining in the third quarter.   With the lead at 48-31 with a minute remaining in the third, Whaley hit another three, and Heights led 48-34 at the end of three.

Anyone trying to sneak out early, missed a wild fourth quarter, as the Blue Devils scored the first 12 points of the final quarter, seven from Bartek, to make the score 48-46 Heights.   

Palmer nailed a three pointer to extend the Aviator lead to 51-46.  Sarver answered with his own three-pointer sixteen seconds later, to make it 51-49.   Moretto hit another driving layup to boost Heights lead to four, 53-49.   Vu-Nguyen made two foul shots to cut the lead to two, and following a Hasbrouck Heights turnover, Sarver nailed another three and the Blue Devils led, 54-53.

Klenk scored his first points of the night, to once again give the Aviators the lead, 55-54, but Marino’s layup gave Wood-Ridge a 56-55 lead with 1:58 remaining.   

Palmer was fouled, and sent to the line with 1:32 remaining, but missed the front end of the one-and-one. Klenk grabbed the rebound and put it back in, and the Aviators had the lead 57-56.   Following a missed Wood-Ridge shot, the Aviators killed the clock, until Palmer was fouled with 0:26 remaining.  

This time Palmer made both of his foul shots, to give the Aviators a three-point lead.  After another Blue Devils miss, Capozzi stretched the lead to five.  With 4.9 second left, Palmer made the score 63-56, before Marino’s three-pointer at the buzzer for the Blue Devils ended the scoring at 63-59.


HASBROUCK HEIGHTS (10-6, 8-3)     14    16   19   15     63

WOOD-RIDGE  (5-10, 5-7)                    11    14     9   25     59

Hasbrouck Heights (63)

Klenk   2-0-0-4,   Purdie  2-0-1-5,  Palmer 5-3-6-25, Ketsche  0-0-0-0, Moretto 7-0-1-15, Capozzi 2-1-0-7, Tsering 3-0-0-6, Xheraj 0-1-0-3.  Totals:   21-5-8-63

Wood-Ridge (59)

Marino 2-3-6-15,  Barteck 0-2-4-10, Vu-Nguyen 2-2-2-12, Whaley 0-3-0-9, Hasangjekaj 0-0-0-0, Connelly 0-0-1-1, Sarver 1-2-0-8.  Totals  5-12-13-59