CHATHAM, NJ - Both teams seemed to be in a generous mood when Randolph and Chatham met on the basketball court Thursday night, with each squad appearing to willfully hand the win to the opposition.
In the end, the Randolph boys basketball team decided to take what Chatham was offering and secured the victory by making just enough foul shots to hold off the Cougars, 52-46.
"I don't know how many chances they gave us to win the game and we just didn't want to take it," Chatham coach Dave Shellenhamer said. "At some point, you have to rebound the basketball. We're too nice, I guess. On rebounds, we don't nail anyone.
"They're not going to give it to you. When they give you a chance, you have to take it. We had plenty of chances and, for whatever reason, we just don't execute at the end. This is a game, just like Mendham (38-37 loss Tuesday), we should have won."
Two foul shots by Ryan Leskaukas had cut the Chatham deficit to 45-43 with 2:19 left in the fourth quarter. That's when everything went off the rails for both teams. The Rams went to the line 15 times over the final 1:16 of the game and sank just two of their first 11 attempts, prompting Rams coach Nick Lavender to ask rhetorically if there was anyone on this team that could make a foul shot.
Randolph senior Justin Lawler was having the toughest time of all, missing the first five free throws he took in the fourth period. But he came through at the end with four free throws made over the last 16 seconds.
Jack Casano-Boris (12 points) had scored a layup with 19 seconds left to narrow the Cougar deficit to 48-46. Lawler then went to the line and hit one of two shots. After Chatham missed a foul attempt, Lawler went to the line again with 12 seconds to go and made the first. But when he missed the second, he managed to get the rebound, setting up his final two made free throws with 10.9 ticks showing.
Leskauskas led the way in the first half, dropping in 10 of his 12 points as the Cougars took a 28-23 lead into the break. And Chatham picked up where it left off with a 6-2 burst to open the third for a 34-25 lead with 4:05 left in the quarter.
Casano-Boris canned a baseline jumper and followed with a jump shot off a pass from Leskauskas (see below) to key the Cougar surge. Freshman Bryce Kania capped the spurt with a strong move through the lane for two points (see below) and the nine-point lead.
COUGAR NOTES: Freshman Bryce Kania made his second straight start for Chatham and finished with a career-high eight points. He scored the first five points for the Cougars and also drove to the basket for two points in the third quarter that gave Chatham its biggest lead of the game, 34-25. "He played really well," Shellenhamer said. ... Randolph went 10-for-25 (40%) at the foul line in the game, including 8-for-19 (42.1%) in the fourth quarter ... Chatham was 5-for-9 from the line ... Ryan Leskauskas and Bryce Kania both fouled out in the final minute of the game for Chatham ... For the second straight game, Chatham played a matchup zone instead of its longstanding man-to-man ... Jamar Santana led all scorers with 19 points for Randolph (4-4) ... the Cougars (3-9) play their final game of the shortened season 5:30 p.m. Friday when Hillside visits CHS.