River Dell Varsity Boys Basketball Team cruises to a 56-34 win over Fort Lee


The River Dell Golden Hawks Varsity Basketball Team(3-1) faced off against the Fort Lee Bridgemen(3-1) at River Dell High School in Oradell, New Jersey.

River Dell was coming off a 41-34 loss to Paramus Catholic. Meanwhile, Fort Lee entered the game undefeated at 3-0 after rolling past Mahwah 55-32.

The Golden Hawks raced out of the gates in the first quarter, jumping out to an 8-0 lead that energized the home crowd, especially the student section.

However, Fort Lee answered back with a run as they cut River Dell's advantage to 12-7 at the end of the quarter. Despite the spurt, the Golden Hawks offense spread the wealth around as five players scored in the period, seniors Hamilton Roth, Chris Nastasi, Andrew Lezaja, Jack Carey, and junior Sean Golden.

In the second quarter, Hamilton Roth rose to the occasion on offense. Roth utilized his height and speed by dropping seven points that propelled the Golden Hawks to establish a 26-12 cushion at halftime.

"The height helps us against teams like this, and we aren't the most athletic team compared to Fort Lee, and they're way more athletic than us," River Dell senior Matt Kelleher explained. "I just like the chemistry we have together, and we're always looking for Hamilton(Roth) because when a team is selling the zone and we pass the ball to him, he'll shoot the ball over that."

Matt Kelleher on the halftime message from Head Coach Ron Van Saders, "He said to keep the foot on the gas, we knew that we had the game in our hands and couldn't let it slip away and stay focused."

Once the third quarter commenced, River Dell quickly extended their advantage. Held scoreless in the first half, Matt Kelleher caught fire from behind the arc, burying two trifectas.

Senior Chris Nastasi tallied five additional points after notching seven in the first half. Hamilton Roth provided four points. By the time the period ended, the Golden Hawks had boosted the margin to 42-25.

"Fort Lee really compacted in the paint so that opened it up for many outside shots for me and Chris(Nastasi), ane he got a bunch a bunch of open looks," Matt Kelleher described. "We knew going into the season we had so many shooters all around the court and one of our strong points this year."

"If teams are really focusing on us from long range it's only going to open up for more points driving to the basket." "Sean(Golden) was getting open underneath because of it."

Matt Kelleher carried the momentum from the third quarter into the fourth as he drained two more triples. Kelleher totaled seven points in the period.

River Dell steadily widened the lead as the quarter progressed, which allowed Head Coach Van Saders to empty the bench. Seniors Jack Carey, Matt Scipioni, Larson Walker, and Arden Baltayan got into the scoring column.

"Our team is nothing without those guys and so important to us," Matt Kelleher noted. "Every game Andrew Lezaja is guarding the best player on the opposing team." "If Andrew needs to come out, Jack(Carey) comes in and is a good defender." Matt Scipioni comes in, knows his roll, and does a good job shooting the ball, defending, and rebounding. Vin (Doornheim) is a fantastic passer, Larson(Walker) can stretch the floor, he rebounds and is vital."

"Teams are game planning for Hamilton and me so it's important that everyone else plays their role and steps into it." "It's just everyone being ready and what's so great about this team we're always ready and we have the same goal that we want to win and play for each other."

The Golden Hawks went on to cruise to the 56-34 victory over Fort Lee. Matt Kelleher poured in a game-high 14 points, Hamilton Roth totaled 13 points, and Chris Nastasi finished with 12 points.

Matt Kelleher on the support from the student section, "When the students come out and support us, it shows us who we're playing for." "We're just not playing for ourselves; we're representing the entire school, and it's just not the basketball team." It's River Dell going out there to play a game and all the support behind us. It just throws us into that extra gear to keep going and want to win even more.

River Dell returns to the hardwood court on Tuesday, December 27th, participating in a Holiday Tournament at Fort Lee High School. The week after the schedule

"With the holiday tournament coming up this week, we want to keep winning games and stay focused," Matt Kelleher stated. "We're not going to treat this as a Christmas break; we're still playing basketball and have a goal this year to win as many games as possible. The advantage we have other any of the teams is we love playing basketball and playing together.

"I can say never anything bad about Coach(Ron Van Saders), he's an amazing coach and really separates himself from other coaches." "He's so encouraging, if you ever make a mistake he'll get on you for a good reason but at the end of the day he's always showing you what you did wrong and always puts us in the right spot to succeed."

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