By Gavin Ems

TRENTON – The Hopewell Valley Bulldogs have been winless against Trenton Central in almost twenty years. However, the Bulldogs snapped that losing streak Friday night when they overcame the Tornadoes in overtime. Despite their prolonged losing streak against Trenton, Hopewell Valley was favored to win going into the game, as they have been dominating teams this year showcasing an 8-1 record. Trenton, however, is in a rebuilding mode, and struggling this year with a 2-9 record.

Hopewell Valley started to pull ahead in the first quarter, scoring baskets down low. Mac Torpey, John Vlasac, and Jake O’Grady dominated in the paint for points. Trenton, being a smaller team was forced to work the perimeter and look for midrange jumpers to put points on the board. However, Trenton was shooting very well from the field, and was neck and neck with Hopewell Valley the entire quarter. Qadir Dixon had three triples by the time the quarter ended, and Juan Sanchez contributed with a three-ball of his own. At the buzzer, the Bulldogs lead the Tornadoes 17-16, the game up for grabs.

The second quarter was a shootout. Trenton took the lead with a basket from Dixon early in the quarter but were not able to grow that lead to more than five points. Hopewell Valley trailed just behind Trenton throughout the quarter, as they had trouble getting baskets to fall but continued to play tough defense. Eventually, the Bulldogs overtook the Tornadoes by five points late in the quarter, but Trenton scored five unanswered points to tie the game up at 30 a piece before the buzzer sounded for the end of the quarter.

Trenton started off the third quarter strong by continuing their scoring run from the previous quarter. They scored another five unanswered points to take the lead 35-30 over Hopewell Valley. The Bulldogs got into foul trouble this quarter, with five fouls on the board with three minutes still to go. Keyshawn Wharten capitalized on this, drawing fouls to go to the line to put up points for Trenton. The Tornadoes dominated this quarter by applying pressure at half-court, moving the ball around well on offense, and drawing fouls. At the end of the quarter, TCHS had the lead over Hopewell Valley 45-38.

The Tornadoes continued their commanding presence over Hopewell Valley in the fourth quarter, forcing turnovers and making tough shots. They played very tenaciously and with a lot of heart. They really wanted this game. Hopewell Valley had trouble getting shots to fall. They were getting a lot of good looks down low but were just unlucky. Eventually, the Bulldogs crept closer to Trenton, and eventually took a one-point lead with a minute and a half to go when Vlasac found Torpey down low for a bucket. Juan Sanchez went to the line on a foul and scored one to tie the game back up at 55 apiece. But when Jude Berman went to the line on another foul call just after that and made both of his free throws with under a minute left. Trenton had to get a bucket to tie or take the lead. Dixon scored a layup down low to. When Hopewell Valley had the ball with just seconds left to go, Berman was called for a carry which turned the ball over to Trenton. However, the Tornadoes were unable to put up points to take the lead and possibly win the game. Thequarter ended with both teams tied and overtime on the way.

Overtime saw a complete momentum shift. The Bulldogs dominated, going on a 7-0 scoring run with Torpey and Vlasacputting up some baskets to take the lead. Hopewell Valley jumped ahead early and had a six-point lead with under two minutes to go. They continued to play tough defense against TCHS and kept them from scoring while simultaneously avoiding fouling them. Eventually, time ran out and Hopewell Valley came out on top, beating Trenton 71-59.

The player of the game was Hopewell Valley’s Mac Torpey, who had 16 points as well as clutch free throws and an impressive defensive performance. WBCB held an interview with him, and asked where he thinks his team can go this season. Torpey responded, “We can go all the way. State championship, whatever it is.” This Hopewell Valley team is motivated to excel this year, and the way they’re playing proves it. They will move to 9-1 after a hard-fought victory on Friday and will play Hamilton next. As for Trenton Central, they lose their sixth straight game and will move to a 2-10 record, their sights set on Hunterdon Central for their next match up.