MADISON, NJ – On a day designed to raise money for cancer, the Madison High School boys basketball team dropped a 49-47 game to Mendham on Jan. 12.
On the second annual “Believe in the Cure Day” at Madison High School, Mendham junior Jesse Hafemeister put in 16 points and made four crucial free throws down the stretch, and senior Kevin Sansone put in 15 points, including 10 of the Minutemen’s first 12.
Madison certainly had chances late. Down 44-42, senior leader Andy Christos missed a pair of free throws and then Hafemeister went to the line and knocked down two free throws to make it a two-possession game.
Paul Saurer answered on the other end for the Dodgers with a bucket to cut the deficit to two. Hafemeister was fouled again and he calmly made both free throws once again.
With just second remaining, Madison’s Brendan Quinn gave the home crowd some hope with a deep triple to cut the deficit to 48-47.
Mendham’s T.J. Garrison was immediately fouled following a timeout, making one of two. A late heave from Madison wasn’t close, and the Minutemen got back to .500 at 5-5 with a big-time road win.
“All except the Ridgewood game, the games have been close,” said Mendham head coach Phil Manuel. “We haven’t closed games out. We have been giving up leads by not handling the ball, taking bad shots, not getting stops on defense. We’re trying to work on those things in practice – closing games out. We did it tonight.”
Sansone hit two 3-pointers early to set the tone. Mendham built a 12-5 lead behind the senior guard, but Madison fought back.
The Dodgers – behind the play of Ian Magnini – were able to chip away and took a 22-20 lead at halftime.
Magnini led Madison with 14 points.
Mendham was able to regroup and was the aggressor in the third quarter. Following a Sansone jumper, a Jackson Losee three-point play gave the visitors a 32-27 advantage.
Hafemeister drilled a shot from long range as Mendham led by four after three quarters.
With a lot of back-and-forth action, Jack Hanson hit one of his two 3-pointers to make it a 35-34 early in the fourth quarter. Sansone answered on the other end with a 3-pointer of his own. A Hafemeister 3-pointer followed and Mendham led 41-34.
The Dodgers fell behind by as many as nine in the fourth quarter before chipping away once again. A 3-pointer from Hanson followed by a pair of free throws from Magnini had the Dodgers with one, 43-42.
Hanson had a chance to give Madison a lead, but his shot was off the mark, and then Christos’ putback attempt was no good.
Hafemeister’s free throws at the end were huge in securing the victory for Mendham.
“Those are the things you have to do to close out a game,” he said. “We were neck-and-neck the whole game. We hate being below .500. Now we’re there and we think we can stay above there.”
Christos, who came in averaging over 14 points per game for the Dodgers, was held in check for the most part. He finished with 10.
Mendham’s Garrison had the responsibility of guarding him.
“We knew T.J. is our best on-ball defender,” Sansone said. “He pretty much took him out of the game for us.”