RANDOLPH, NJ - The Randolph boys varsity basketball team came into Thursday night's tilt against Chatham looking for a victory to turn around their young season. They will have to wait until Saturday.
Randolph stayed with Chatham for three quarters and trailed by only four in the fourth as Pat Archer hit two free throws, bringing the score to 36-32. But Randolph struggled to overcome the press and Chatham spread the floor and won the battles around the basket, pulling away for a final score of 45-34.
Randolph seemed to have an edge early but only as long as the shots were falling because Chatham forced the ball to the perimeter. Randolph's Barry Lynch hit two buckets from beyond the arc and Michael Talbert added another to put Randolph up 15-11.
Chatham started implementing the full-court press and turned the tide as they climbed ahead when Robert Raiola hit a 3 at the buzzer to put Chatham on top 18-15 at the half.
Chatham started the third with a pair of takeaways for some easy buckets as Randolph was frustrated by the pressure and never really settled in to their half court offense. Most of the Chatham's remaining points came in transition or off steals.
Randolph center Greg Moserowitz brought Randolph back within striking distance with two consecutive scores and Aiden Naravane's hustle play on a loose ball gave Randolph some jump, but the backcourt trap proved too much and the Cougars pulled away. Stefan Goles had 12 points and Luke Conrad had 11.
“We certainly are struggling to find our niche here that's for sure,” said Randolph head Coach Matt Tighe after the game. “We got to make some shots. . . unfortunately our offense will dictate some of our defense. If we make a couple shots I think the kids will change their mindsets.”
The start to the year is not unlike last yea'rs 1-7 start for the Rams that led to a resurgent second half, ultimately finishing 15-14. The ball just didn't drop for the Rams who couldn't seem to get the most out of their talent on the floor.
Chatham is 5-2 on the season, and Coach Todd Ervin was pleased with his squad's early success. “Good win for us, we've been playing okay lately," Ervin said. "I thought we played good tonight. We're still pretty young so they're getting experience and getting better and I think it showed.”