CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham junior Graham Delaney summed it up best: "You can't win games if you don't make shots."
That was the case on Wednesday night when Chatham didn't score in the final 4:44 of its 44-34 loss to Orange in the second round of the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 state tournament.
Senior Logan Loeloff hit a side jumper with 5:23 left and Delaney sank two fouls with 4:45 showing to give Chatham (14-11) a 34-33 edge. But Raheem Collins scored the next five points and that was enough for Orange (18-8) to advance.
A night after Chatham had scored its most points in a game, 74, in its state tournament victory over Cranford, the Cougars brought their defense in the game against Orange.
"It's kind of the story of our season," Delaney said. "A little inconsistent on both sides. Last night, we were great on the offensive end. Tonight we weren't. Last night we were poor on the defensive end, tonight we were great on the defensive end. It's kind of the story of our season. You can't win games if you don't make shots."
There was a sequence in the final minutes when Stefan Goles grabbed two offensive rebounds that led to open looks by Chatham, but two shots by Delaney and another by senior Robert Raiola just wouldn't fall.
"I forced a couple tonight because they were really coming out on me," Delaney said. "But I definitely felt like I got off some good shots. It just wasn't falling tonight."
In the Tuesday game against Cranford, Chatham hit nine 3-pointers, four of them by Delaney. But the Cougars were undermanned because senior guard Luke Conrad was sidelined by concussion symptoms. Conrad had missed nine games while recovering from his concussion. He had scored 11 against Cranford.
Despite the loss of Conrad, Chatham was up to the task. In the first quarter, the Cougars moved out to a 10-4 lead. Delaney's rebound and pass led to a three-point play by Raiola, who led all scorers with 16 points. Goles followed his own missed shot and Delaney drove to sink a running jumper. Delaney then fed Loeloff inside for a basket that became a three-point play.
In the second quarter Delaney drained his only 3-pointer of the game to make it 15-15 before Orange took an 18-15 lead into the break.
Raiola carried Chatham in the third quarter with a 3-pointer, two free throws and another 3-pointer as Orange clung to a 28-27 edge heading in the fourth quarter.
Raiola opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer that staked Chatham to a 30-28 lead.
"We gave our best effort out there," Raiola said. "It's not the way we wanted to go out. It's tough because it was right there to win. We had the lead in the fourth quarter. They made some shots, we didn't."
"Little bit different type of game (than the high-scoring match with Cranford). We knew we had to pack it in on defense because they like to go to the basket."
Chatham may have played its best overall defensive game of the season, but lacked the key basket when it needed it most.
"I thought we played really good defense," Chatham coach Todd Ervin said. "Take away those points at the end that we gave them because we had to foul, and it was a great effort. We just couldn't score. It's been our issue all year. We never got enough scoring. We needed it tonight, that's for sure. I thought we played really well defensively. We played well offensively, but we didn't make shots."
Seniors Danny Winschuh, Loeloff and Raiola left what they had on the court.
"All credit to Rob and all our seniors," Delaney said. "Robert, Danny, Logan, Wick. Those are the guys who came in every day and made this season special. Tough way to go out, but I'm proud of our team."