After spending three months defying expectations and proving doubters wrong, the West Deptford High School boys’ basketball team finally ran out of steam Tuesday night.
Back in the playoffs for the first time in four seasons, No. 12 West Deptford could not muster a perfect ending to their season of rise, falling to No. 5 Barnegat, 69-41.
“I think it was just one of those things where the bubble just burst,” said West Deptford head coach Don Clark. “I think they did as much as they could for as long as they could all season, and it just came to an end. The seniors took us as far as we could go.”
The Eagles came out of the gates ready for a showdown, and built a 9-8 lead midway through the first quarter. However, Barnegat scored the next three baskets and soon the lead had grown to 20 before halftime.
Barnegat will face No. 4 Haddonfield in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
“It was close for about a quarter, but (Barnegat) played zone and we couldn’t make any shots,” said Clark. “That’s the ingredient—to beat us is to play from the zone and make us shoot outside, and that’s not our strength. There were a lot of games down the stretch where we hit a couple of outside shots and got teams out of zone and into man-to-man where we wanted them, but we couldn't do that tonight."
Senior Tom Jakubowski—who surpassed the 1,000 career points barrier this past weekend—had a team-high 11 points and sophomore Justin Hansen had nine.
The loss will hardly tarnish what has been a renaissance season for the Eagles. After winning two games in the 2009-10 season and six games last year, West Deptford exploded for 14 wins this year. The next step in building the program will be getting the players to amp it up a notch for the postseason. Clark said his team was unable to match the emotion the home team brought.
“We just didn’t bring the energy we normally bring,” Clark said. “I’m not sure why, but we just didn’t bring energy. In a playoff atmosphere you have to bring a new level. There is a regular season level and a playoff level, and we didn’t bring it and they did.”
Check back next week for a recap of the Eagles’ breakout season.