Right before the holiday break, the Tatnall Hornets Boys Varsity Basketball team won their third consecutive game this season, dominating A.I. duPont 54-41 in front of a festive and feisty home crowd. A.I. came out hot, opening the game by scoring the first 6 points of the contest before Tatnall caught their breath and settled in. Captain Isaiah Sales '23 opened the scoring for Tatnall with a pair of long three-pointers, and the Hornets ran off an impressive 11-2 run in the first punctuated by a pretty three-ball by returning captain Caleb Sales '22, playing in his first game back from injury. Tatnall trailed by a bucket at the end of the first but strapped in on defense and firmly seized control of the game in the second. The Hornet defense swarmed all over the court, frustrating the Tiger attack and dominating the glass. Caleb Starks '25 came in and scored a pair of tough buckets inside with offensive rebounds, including an and-one. Jace Banks '25 blocked a shot inside, which was smartly tapped ahead by captain MarQuel Fitzgerald ’25 for a running Banks layup. A.I. called a timeout to try and stem the Hornet run, but Isaiah Sales splashed another longball coming out of the timeout. By the time the halftime buzzer rang, it was a 17-0 shutout quarter by the Hornets, who led 28-13 at the half. A.I. came out focused in the third, but the Hornets stayed hot on both ends. Fitzgerald drained another three and added a layup later in the spurt. The lead ballooned to as many as 20 in the second half, and the Tigers attempted to increase the physicality to get back into it. The Hornets were true from the charity stripe through the fourth, though, and maintained their composure to secure the gutty 54-41 win. Isaiah Sales was simply dominant, finishing with a game, season, and career-high 27 points and added six rebounds. He hit four threes in the contest and blocked a pair of shots. Fitzgerald added an impressive double-double, finishing with ten points and a game-high fifteen rebounds. Caleb Sales chipped in seven, and the Sales brothers finished a combined fifteen for sixteen from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to bring home the win. Banks and Starks teamed up for ten points off the bench.
Back in action after a long holiday break, the Tatnall Hornets returned to the court at less than full strength on Wednesday, January 5, when they hosted the Dickinson Rams. The Hornets' already small roster missed two significant pieces in the rotation due to injury and illness. The Hornets came out hot from the start, jumping out to an 8-2 lead. However, the energy was lacking on defense, and the Rams were able to grind away and take the lead at the end of the first, 14-13. Tatnall played unevenly in the second quarter, with captain Isaiah Sales '23 leading the way on offense. He dominated the action from inside and out, scoring at will against multiple Ram defenders. Jace Banks '25 stepped into the starting lineup and showed great energy on defense, wreaking havoc and providing a spark. Despite a less than inspiring performance, Tatnall grabbed a one-point lead at the half, 27-26.
Confidence was high coming out of the locker room, but Dickinson was up to the task, and it was a tightly contested battle throughout. The Rams took the lead, but captain MarQuel Fitzgerald '23 brought the crowd to their feet with a diving save into the Tatnall cheerleaders on the baseline. Giving up his body and ending up in a heap on the floor, he was able to direct the ball to a driving Banks for a powerful layup plus the foul to get the Hornets to within a point, trailing 38-37. Eli Baffone '24 intercepted a pass on defense, and Banks again attacked the rack and converted both free throws to give Tatnall a one-point lead entering the final period.
The fourth quarter was a battle throughout. Tatnall was able to convert on offense, get stops, and build a five-point lead. However, the Hornets turned it over on three straight possessions, and things looked bleak until Banks was able to convert another acrobatic driving layup through contact. The incredibly clutch and one layup stemmed the tide for Tatnall, but Banks could not convert the free throw. The Hornets forced another turnover, and Baffone was able to finish a tough layup from the high post inside through the teeth of the Rams’ defense. A dynamic Fitzgerald offensive rebound putback got the Hornets a 54-50 lead with under a minute to go. Still, Dickinson was able to hit a three off a scramble after a miss when Tatnall was unable to secure the rebound to end the game. Captain Caleb Sales '22, playing through foul trouble all night, saved the biggest moment for his lone bucket, slashing through the 2-3 zone for a driving layup. Up three, Tatnall needed a defensive stop and was up to the task when Banks was able to steal the inbounds pass. He calmly splashed both free throws for the final margin, keeping the Hornets’ undefeated season going.
Isaiah Sales was again dominant, finishing with a game-high 26 points and adding ten rebounds. He drained three treys and blocked three shots as well. Banks added a gutty fifteen points of his own, all huge throughout the victory. He had three assists and four steals as well. Baffone added eight of his own, and Fitzgerald led the team with game-high fifteen rebounds and a fantastic season-high seven blocked shots. Both Jack Willard '23 and Julian Rosetta '25 provided great minutes throughout the contest and were instrumental in the victory.
The Hornets look to continue their undefeated season when they host Archmere on Saturday, January 8, with varsity tipping at 12:15 p.m.