Haddonfield, Despite Key Injury, is Off to a Fast Start

by Marc Narducci; Photo Marc Narducci | Jan 1, 2019
Haddonfield, Despite Key Injury, is Off to a Fast Start

Haddonfield was expected to have among the top boys’ basketball teams in South Jersey and the Bulldogs have certainly lived up to expectations.

Entering the New Year, the Bulldogs were 6-0 and what has made the start more impressive is that all-South Jersey point guard Mike DePersia has been sidelined with a wrist injury that was suffered in the second game of the season, a 47-37 victory against Camden Catholic.

The reason for the high expectations this year is because Haddonfield has an experienced team returning from the squad that beat Newark Central, 62-47 to win the NJSIAA state Group 2 title.

Leading the way is DePersia, who is not only an accomplished scorer and distributor, but among the better defensive players in South Jersey.

He has accepted a scholarship to Division I basketball scholarship to Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), which competes in the underrated and highly competitive Horizon League.

It was DePersia who was the leader of last year’s state championship team. He scored 22 points in the state final, but again, his game is measured by much more than just offense.

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There are few better leaders in South Jersey.

While it isn’t known how long he will be out, Haddonfield has shown it has the depth to remain competitive.

Picking up the slack in DePersia’s absence has been 6-7 senior Dan Fleming, who was averaging 17.6 points in the first six games.

Fleming was a key performer last year, averaging 11 points per game.

Besides DePersia and Fleming, the other returning starters for Haddonfield are senior forwards Aiden Blake and Dylan Heine. Last year Blake averaged 9.6 points and Heine averaged 7.4 points.

Both have been scoring more this season. In the first six games Heine was averaging 11.5 points and Blake 10.6.

Drew Gavranich, a 6-2 senior who was a standout on the 13-0 football team, was averaging 6.5 points.

Haddonfield is guided by one of the top coaches in South Jersey, Paul Wiedeman. Entering this season, he had a 444-110 record and had guided the Bulldogs to four state title.

Wiedeman also was a standout point guard for Haddonfield and helped the Bulldogs win a state championship in 1989.

Haddonfield always tries to beef up its non-league schedule and this year may be one of the Bulldogs most challenging.

Among the non-league games are against perennial state power Linden, defending South Jersey non-Public A champion St. Augustine, Olympic Conference National contenders and Top 10 South Jersey teams Bishop Eustace and Paul VI and Atlantic City, a team annually in the South Jersey Top 10.

Obviously, the health of DePersia will be a big key for the Bulldogs, but as they have shown in the early going, they will still be a difficult out for any opponent, regardless of their injury situation.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci


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