December 28, 2013 at 12:49 AM
CHATHAM, NJ – The Chatham boys’ basketball team avoided disaster against New Providence on Friday night in their opening game of the Cougar Classic.
After leading by as many 20 points in the first half, the Cougars saw their lead dwindle to six in the third quarter before holding on to beat the Pioneers, 62-45.
Chatham’s Graham Delaney scored a game-high 20 points to lead the Cougars to their second victory of the year.
“He was on fire in the first half,” Cougars head coach Todd Ervin said. “He’s a really good shooter, he’s been shooting the ball really well this year. He was open and the guys found him. He made shots and we need him to do that.”
Delaney led a Chatham offense that put up 28 points in the first quarter, opening the game on a 20-5 run. Leading 6-3, Delaney hit back-to-back-to-back deep balls to quickly turn a 3-point lead into 12 in a span of two minutes.
“It was a terrible first quarter,” New Providence head coach Art Cattano said. “We didn’t handle the press well at all. They shot the eyes out. It was tough to battle back because they’re a good team. I was happy we made a run; we didn’t just pack it in and lose by 30.”
Trailing by as many as 19 points in the second quarter, the Pioneers cut the lead to 13 at the half.
In the third quarter, New Providence pulled within six points on a Matt Romeo 3-pointer with five minutes to play. However, costly turnovers and poor shot selection plagued the Pioneers the rest of the way.
On multiple occasions, New Providence gave the ball away to Chatham’s full-court press. When they were able to get into a halfcourt offense, the Pioneers forced up a countless amount of shots early in their possessions.
“I think we fire up too many threes and are not patient enough,” Cattano said. “Its like everyone wants to get their shots up and they’re not scoring…We need to think more about the team than getting their name in the box score.”
No Pioneer scored in double-figures in the game. Despite getting nine points each from Bryan Sherman and Tyler Curto, New Providence’s leading scorer Curtis Kyzima was held scoreless.
Aside from Delaney’s 20 point performance, Luke Conrad put up 17 in the victory.
Both teams are back in action on Saturday. Chatham will face Millburn, while New Providence goes up against Madison in Day Two of the Cougar Classic.