Audubon Green Wave Boys’ Basketball 2022-2023 Season Recap


Dan Wilkins, Writer

The Audubon Green Wave boys’ basketball team finished their 2022-23 season 12-14, finishing third in the Patriot Division of the Colonial Conference with a 5-5 inner-division record. Despite having no senior varsity starters, Audubon had an impressive year that was a vast improvement from years prior, and while a first-round playoff loss ended their season, the 2022-23 winter season laid a sturdy foundation going into next season for the core of the team.

Audubon started their season with an overtime loss to Collingswood, and then had convincing wins over Delran and Gateway followed by a loss to Woodbury to send the club into winter break 2-2. Audubon won their annual holiday tournament, winning over Woodstown in the first round and over Haddon Township in the final  round. This was the first time since 2019 that Audubon hosted a tournament during winter break due to COVID-19 and the restrictions that followed. Along with that, it was the first time since 2015 that the Green Wave had won their home tournament.

Going into January, Audubon hit a rough patch to start the new year, going 2-7 from January 3rd to January 21st. Audubon’s first home game of 2023 was a thriller, as the Wave defeated the Lindenwold Lions 65-64, in a double-overtime thriller that ended with Audubon clinching the victory in the final five seconds. Audubon’s biggest struggles in January were mostly due to them playing the larger schools in the conference during that time, taking tough losses to Sterling, Haddon Heights, and Haddonfield during the month. Audubon’s matchup versus the Sterling Silver Knights was an interesting one, as many South Jersey journalists had put Sterling in their top 10 rankings for south jersey teams, and many did not expect Audubon to play as well as they did versus Sterling. Alas, the Wave lost 46-38, but the game was shockingly competitive until about halfway into the fourth quarter.

Audubon played the underdog more than once this season. On January 23rd, they beat the Highland Tartans 53-48, and even though the Tartans’ winning percentage (.291%) wasn’t as high as Audubon’s (.461%), Highland is a group 3 school, and the Green Wave were eventual winners in what some would call an upset. Audubon’s biggest underdog victory this year was on February 7th, when the Gloucester Lions came to town, and lost 56-41 to Audubon. It was probably the most electric game of the season, with Audubon playing well, and simply outplaying the Lions, which had two seniors with over 1,000 points to their name. Gloucester was exceptional at hitting deep three-pointers, even from outside NBA range, but Audubon outplayed them on defense and on finishing at the rim. It was the first time that the Green Wave defeated Gloucester in boys’ basketball since 2015, and it was the first time they won by 10 or more points since the holiday tournament in 2009, 14 years ago.

Audubon’s regular season came to an end with a 53-49 win over the Clearview Pioneers, and they were seeded 8th in the NJSIAA South Jersey Group I tournament, and were slated to face the Palmyra Panthers at home. If Audubon won, they would have faced the #1 seed Wildwood Warriors, but unfortunately lost a close one to Palmyra 47-44. It was one of the most electric playoff games in Audubon’s history, and the first one at home since 2008. 

The majority of the team, when asked, said that this year exceeded their expectations. Some players said they plan to get in the weight room more based on what they saw this year in preparation for their senior season. Junior Joey Slavin said that out of all his years playing basketball with this group of players (which dates back to before high school), that this was the best team chemistry that he’s seen from Audubon. Ryan Johnston said that the chemistry progressed over the course of the season, with it being a little patchy to start, and was better at the end of the year. Several players said that they were surprised by the performance of Liam Nixon, a sophomore who excelled at hitting three-pointers and drawing steals as primarily a sixth man on the club.

Statistically, this was Audubon’s most consistent year in a while, having a high-scoring offense that accounted for potential defensive inconsistencies in the paint and from three-point range. Two players, junior Ryan Johnson and freshman A’Zon Young were both selected to the Colonial Conference All-First Team on A’Zon Young burst onto the scene as a breakout player, averaging a double-double in 25 games played, and being a 6’1” freshman really helped Young, being one of the most consistent shooters from inside the paint all season. One thing that Audubon struggled with this year was free-throws, where the team as a whole only shot 60% from the line after fouls, with Audubon’s best free-throw shooter averaging 71%, below the conference average. Audubon averaged collectively 48.3 points per game, 27.8 rebounds, 10.1 assists, 2.6 blocks, and 4.9 steals per game.

The Audubon Green Wave boys’ basketball program will prepare for one last ride with its main crew in 2023-24. Kaleb Eller, Ryan Johnston, Luke Hoke, Joey Slavin, Andrew Trow, and Terry Herron are all seniors next year. After they graduate, Audubon will once again be a young team that will need to reevaluate their roster plans. However, this last ride may be their best opportunity yet to succeed under the leadership of head coach Brian O’Donnell.