By Phil Anastasia
There's strategy and there's skill and then there's something else that often makes the difference in basketball games.
"Hustle plays," Delsea junior guard Ron Russell said of the key to his team's 67-49 upset of previously undefeated Haddonfield in a non-conference clash Saturday in the Crusaders' gymnasium.
With relentless effort in pursuit of every rebound and loose ball, Delsea (3-4) snapped a three-game losing streak and re-established itself as a team on the rise in South Jersey basketball.
"They ripped the ball out of our hands," Haddonfield coach Paul Wiedeman said. "They were way more aggressive than us."
Delsea controlled the glass behind senior forward Cedric Elleby, who generated 21 points and 20 rebounds. Junior forward Kris Anderson, who was making his second start, added 10 points and seven rebounds and sophomore forward Keith Braxton scored 10 of his 12 as the Crusaders broke open a close game midway through the fourth quarter.
Russell played a strong game on the perimeter, making good decisions against Haddonfield's pressure defense and stamping a pair of exclamation points on the victory with traditional three-point plays in the final two minutes.
"We had high-energy," Russell said. "We played with so much more intensity than we had in the last few games."
Senior guard Billy Griffin scored 22 for Haddonfield (7-1), the No. 9 team in The Inquirer Top 10.
Sophomore forward Jake Robinson bounced off the bench to score 14 but senior Chris Biddle, the team's top interior player, was hampered by foul trouble.
"They beat us to all the 50-50 balls," Wiedeman said. "Elleby was dominant and their other guys keep beating us to the ball, too."
With a lack of experience, Delsea has struggled to establish consistency. In the span of 41 hours from Thursday night to Saturday afternoon, the Crusaders put together their worst performance of the season in a 77-57 loss to Clearview and their best in an imposing victory over Haddonfield.
"We're on a roller-coaster," Delsea coach Tom Freeman said.
Haddonfield 11 13 12 13 -- 49
Delsea 9 14 15 29 -- 67
H: Rob DePersia 3, Nick DePersia 7, Billy Griffin 22, Chris Biddle 3, Jake Robinson 14.
D: Cedric Elleby 21, Ron Russell 14, Joe Ingram 5, Keith Braxton 12, Kris Anderson 10, Kaleb Morton 5.
Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.