River Dell Varsity Boys Basketball Team uses fourth-quarter surge to cruise past Westwood


The River Dell Golden Hawks Varsity Boys Basketball Team (3-5, 1-1, Big North Patriot) squared off against the Westwood Cardinals(4-4) at River Dell High School in Oradell, New Jersey.

River Dell entered the contest having dropped two in a row, including the Big North Patriot league opener at Ramsey 45-40.

Liam Hickey, on the message from Head Coach Ron Van Saders, "Coach is great and the one thing I really like is he has a lot of confidence in his guys even though we started out 3-5 and we lost a lot of close games and knew we're going to go on a run and the played believe that as well."

The Golden Hawks blazed from behind the arc in the first quarter as Liam Hickey buried three trifectas. Westwood was equally up to the task, with Michael Rinaldi knocking down three triples and Sean Morrison adding a trey that propelled the Cardinals to a 16-13 lead at the end of the period.

"You just got to be locked in right out of the gates and my teammates and coaches had the confidence in me to shoot them," Liam Hickey described. "I put in a lot of work in the summer and it's showing and putting that jersey on and representing my school is a great feeling."

In the second quarter, River Dell relied on Sean Golden as the primary weapon on offense, with Golden tallying eight points. The Golden Hawks became lethal from downtown as Patrick Sweeney and Ryan Rossig connected on pearls.

However, Westwood kept pace with River Dell on the barrage of three-pointers, with Sean Morrison sinking a pair of trifectas and Michael Rinaldi draining his fourth trey as the Cardinals led 29-27 at halftime.

"Sean(Golden) started to heat up, and we definitely wanted to find ways to get him the ball," Liam Hickey explained. "I don't think Westwood had anyone who was tall enough to guard him."

Once the third quarter commenced, Westwood held a 35-30, but the Golden Hawks answered back with a 6-0 spurt to reclaim the lead on a lay-up by Phil Doornheim.

River Dell extended their advantage to 44-37 as Sean Golden continued to dominate on the offensive end, pouring in 12 points. The Cardinals ignited a rebuttal as they closed the quarter on a 6-0 blitz to narrow the margin to 45-43.

In the fourth quarter, the Golden Hawks gained some separation as David Nunez connected on a jump shot from a long distance. Sean Golden proved unstoppable by throwing down a pair of monstrous dunks as River Dell expanded their lead.

"We got the ball to Sean(Golden) in the low post which was definitely important," Liam Hickey noted. "We got out in transition and his dunks really hyped up the crowd."

Conversely, Westwood struggled immensely on offense, with Robbie Carcich notching six points for the Cardinals. Down the stretch, the Golden Hawks lived off the free throw line as Liam Hickey, David Nunez, and Sean Golden combined to hit eight shots as River Dell cruised to the 64-49 victory and snapped a two-game losing skid.

Sean Golden totaled a game-high 27 points, while Liam Hickey contributed 15 points, and David Nunez netted 11 points.

Liam Hickey on the win, "It feels good, and they're hard to come by, and anytime we can get one, it's just a great feeling in the locker room and celebrate with our friends and family." "I think we have the best fans in the state and the energy is just electric."

River Dell returns to action on Thursday, January 11th, after a postponement against Indian Hills on Tuesday, January 9th, due to inclement weather facing Pascack Hills(3-5,2-1 Big North Patriot) at River Dell High School, with tip-off set for 7 p.m.

"League games are always important, and Coach Van Saders said that from the start of the year, and that goal hasn't changed," Liam Hickey stated. "We're looking to make a deep run, and one thing I like about this team is we're friends and easy to play with each other, and we just move the ball around." "Now we have to get ready for Pascack Hills on Thursday."

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