West Deptford boys’ Basketball Looking for a Healthy Second Half

West Deptford boys’ Basketball Looking for a Healthy Second Half
West Deptford’s boys’ basketball team began the season winning 6 of its first 10 games and in many years that would be a reason to celebrate.
 
However, the expectations have increased and that is why coach J. McKeown is hoping the Eagles will jump back into the Colonial Conference Liberty Division race.
 
Part of the reason the Eagles have failed to play with sustained consistency has been that the team has been hit with several different illnesses.
 
“We did not foresee this,” McKeown said. “Since preseason we have had flu, pneumonia, bronchitis, the flu. And it hasn’t been just two kids, it has been eight and there was a point where we either played through it or cancelled games.”
 
West Deptford entered the season considered a prime contender along with Haddon Heights and two-time defending state champion Hadddonfield.
 
While Haddonfield was hit hard by graduation, with only one starter returning, the Bulldogs are again seriously contending. So is Haddon Heights.
 
The Garnets opened the season with a 43-38 win over West Deptford. In conference play, West Deptford has also lost to Sterling and Haddonfield, while beating Audubon and Collingswood.
 
With three division losses, it will be an uphill battle, but not impossible one for West Deptford.
 
The Eagles have a strong senior backcourt combination in 6-5 MJ Iraldi and 6-1 Brandon Ratcliffe. Iraldi was averaging 16.6 points in his first 10 games while Ratcliffe was averaging 13.5.
 
It must be noted that McKeown wasn’t blaming health entirely for the losses. He understands how difficult it is to win in the Colonial Liberty. In fact this year the division is as balanced as it has been in quite some time.
 
“We’re hoping to play a little better together,” he said.
 
These comments were made after the Eagles earned a 32-31 nail-biter at Collingswood.
 
One encouraging note is that West Deptford ended last week with an impressive 64-46 win over Paulsboro as Iraldi scored 25 and Ratcliffe added 13.
 
A key for West Deptford will be developing a third and possibly fourth reliable scorer. In the Paulsboro game it was senior Byrel Wilson, who scored a season-high 10 points.
 
A two-week span in February will likely determine if the Eagles will get back into the race. On Feb. 4 there is a rematch at Haddon Heights. On the 13th, West Deptford hosts Sterling and on the 18th Haddonfield visits the Eagles.

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So there is time to jump back into the race, but there isn’t much margin for error. That said, this is a veteran team and one capable of having a healthy second half of the season.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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