CHATHAM, NJ - 15-seed Science Park eliminated the seventh-seeded Chatham Cougars from the North II, Group II NJSIAA Tournament Thursday night after a low scoring, 30-25 victory.
Costly missed lay-ups and turnovers plagued the Cougars the entire night and came back to haunt them down the stretch. "They made shots at the end and we didn't," said junior Adam Parisella.
With 40 seconds left, Science scored, taking a one-point lead, and Chatham was forced to call a timeout. After a turnover by Chatham, the Chargers scored again with 14 seconds left and took a three-point lead. Chatham went down and missed a lay-up; Science had sealed the victory.
As soon as Science Park took the tip-off, they ran a four-corner offense and stalled for three minutes and 40 seconds. Science coach Milt Gaylord described this offense after the game, admitting that it is rare and aggravating to defend. "[Our offense] frustrates their players and frustrates their crowd. It's a frustrating style to play against. It also keeps our players out of foul trouble, so that in the second half, we can come out strong."
At the end of the first quarter, the score was zero to zero. The scoring opened at the 5:38 mark thanks to Raheem Balogun. He finished with five points for the Chargers, the defending champions of the tournament.
Chatham led 15-14 entering the third quarter. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Chatham sophomore Jonathan Berntsen hit two three-pointers and then one later in the game. He led all scorers with 11 points and kept the Cougars in it the whole night.
The annual "Thank you Seniors" chant at the end of the game was an emotional one for the four seniors on the Cougars' roster this season. Christopher Conroy, the leading scorer, Casey Gill, Kevin Giannattasio, and Adam Kovonuk were vital parts of this year's season.
"As a freshman, they were good role models and helped me adjust to playing at the varsity level. They helped make me a better player and it's sad to see them go," said Sam Carson, one of two freshmen on Chatham's team this year.
Chatham finished the year 16-11, a better record than most expected going into the season.