RANDOLPH, NJ - Upset-minded Chatham had a chance to knock off undefeated Jefferson in the quarterfinal round of the Morris County Tournament on Sunday,
The disappointment didn't come from the loss, a 40-32 decision that put Jefferson at 19-0. It came from the Cougars' inability to get off a shot in the closing minutes.
"We had open guys and just didn't pull the trigger," Chatham coach Todd Ervin said. "We just have problems scoring. That's been our issue most of the year. We're right about at our number - 32 points. We're usually around there. We had looks, we had shots."
Sophomore Colin McKenna, who led Chatham with 13 points, had hit a baseline jumper off a feed from Robert Raiola and then knocked down a bank shot in the lane to cut the deficit to 34-32 with 4:26 left. The Cougars would not score again in the game.
Two straight turnovers hurt Chatham, which had trouble with Jefferson's 3-2 zone for a good portion of the game. For example, Graham Delaney, the team's top 3-point shooter, made just one shot from beyond the arc and finished with three points.
Chatham called timeout with the score 34-32 with 1:33 left, but never got off a shot before it turned the ball over. Jefferson guard Christopher Telman (14 points) hit two foul shots with 39.7 seconds left and then stole the ball and scored a fast-break layup to make it 38-32 with 26 seconds showing.
Colin McKenna talks about the game in video below
Colin McKenna grabs his own rebound and scores as he's being fouled in video below
The Cougars were up to the challenge early, as Raiola scored five points and handed out two assists for a 12-11 lead in the first quarter. Jefferson, led by their backcourt of Bryan Langan (15 points) and Telman outscored Chatham, 16-6, in the second quarter. Joe Rossi dropped in a shot at the buzzer to give the Falcons a 27-18 lead at the break.
"We made a couple adjustments (against Jefferson's zone), not really anything different," Ervin said. "It was the same thing we were trying to do. We just didn't do it in the first half."
Chatham came to life, as it usually does, in the second half. McKenna got the third quarter started when he made a steal and then scored off his own rebound as he was fouled. He sank the bonus free throw. Stefan Goles scored off a pass from Logan Loeloff and then was fouled taking a 3-pointer. Goles sank all three free throws. McKenna's basket closed out a 10-2 third quarter for Chatham as Jefferson clung to a 29-28 edge.
"They're a good team. We knew we could play with them," Ervin said. "They did the right things down the end to hold on."