River Dell varsity boys basketball team gets back on winning track with win over Mahwah


After falling to Bergen Catholic in the Round of 16 in the Bergen County Jamboree at Tenafly High School, the River Dell Golden Hawks (12-5, 3-3 Big North Patriot) varsity boys basketball team returned to the hardwood court hosting Mahwah(16-5, 3-2 Big North Patriot) at River Dell High School. River Dell was looking to start another winning trend as the Crusaders ended their eight-game winning streak.

Back on January 6th, the Golden Hawks fell to Mahwah 61-46 at Mahwah High School. The Thunderbirds quickly jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the first quarter, with all the points occurring on shots from behind the arc.

River Dell ignited a rebuttal to trim the deficit to 11-9. By the time the quarter ended, Mahwah had led 14-11. Matt Brunner tallied five points for the Golden Hawks.

"They hit a couple of threes and we were just struggling with the 3-2 and 2-3 zones," Hamilton Roth explained. "We just had to figure it out so we could beat the zone and get them out of it." Matt (Brunner) hitting those two threes helped us come back and make the game close again.

In the second quarter, the Thunderbirds were up 19-13 with four and half minutes remaining when River Dell went on a 6-0 run in less than two minutes. Ryan Milnes sank four three throws during the response.

With Mahwah up 21-19 at the two-minute mark, Matt Brunner displayed his shooting capability from long-distance, burying his second trifecta with a minute and a half to go to put the Golden Hawks up 22-21 at halftime. Hamilton Roth led River Dell in scoring with eight points.

Hamilton Roth on the message from Head Coach Ron Van Saders at halftime, "He basically said this could be our game and we just have to keep doing what we're doing." "We just have to keep spacing out that zone and get our type of shots."

River Dell came out of the locker room a motivated group as the offense erupted in the first six and half minutes of the third quarter, going on an 11-0 run with back-to-back-to-back treys from Hamilton Roth, Ryan Milnes, and Matt Kelleher. Nolan Gilmour contributed off the bench notching six points.

Ryan Milnes on the third quarter outburst from downtown, "It definitely felt good, they were hitting a lot of threes on us so that was kind of revenge on how we were hitting threes against them."

However, the Thunderbirds responded with a 7-0 run in 50 seconds to make it a 33-29 game with two and half minutes to go. Despite the lead shrinking, the Golden Hawks maintained the advantage at the end of the quarter up 41-36.

Once the fourth quarter rolled around, both teams had difficulty putting the ball in the basket. River Dell clung to a 41-37 lead with four half minutes remaining.

Hamilton Roth fed a pass to Ryan Milnes, who skies into the air for a spectacular left-handed lay-in-off glass. Milnes fouled in the process as the ball went into the bucket and drained the free-throw to complete the three-point play.

From that point on, the River Dell steadily tacked on to the lead sinking shots at the charity stripe line as they cruised to the 53-41 victory. Ryan Milnes totaled a game-high 17 points while Hamilton Roth added 13 points.

Hamilton Roth on the win, "The first we played them we were coming off the COVID break, and we knew the next time we played them we were going to win and to beat a great team and get a league win is nice." "Once they started to press we knew we could handle the pressure and then get the ball to the middle and find guys by the hoop for easy lay-ups."

The Golden Hawks (12-5, 3-3 Big North Patriot) face a grueling schedule ahead with four out of the next five games on the road starting at Cresskill on Saturday, February 12th, with tip-off set for 1:30 p.m.

On the upcoming match-up against Cresskill, Ryan Milnes said, "This is a big game for us, especially in the state sectionals because if we win, we will be in the top five for our section." "The upcoming league games are also important."

Hamilton Roth on the away games, "It's like every other game even if it's not home, we just want to go out there and keep playing." "We have won 9 out of our last 10 and I feel very confident we'll go on another run."

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