CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham boys basketball team scored 83 points in victory on Monday and then give up 82 points in a loss the next night.
From Chatham's perspective, its 82-71 loss Hanover Park in the Cougar Classic on Tuesday boiled down to poor defense. The Cougars just couldn't stop the Hornets, who went to the line 48 times and sank 31.
Brad Daugherty led the way for Hanover Park (4-2), scoring 19 points. The Hornets employed a full-court press the entire game, rotating in three players at a time, and kept driving to the basket and drawing fouls.
Chatham guard Graham Delaney, who scored a career high 25 points on Monday against Nutley, led all scorers with 23 points and dished out six assists for the Cougars. Freshman guard Jack Rooney posted his second straight double-digit performance, following his 18 from Monday with 13 vs. Hanover Park.
"It was too little, too late on our part," Delaney said. "We started off the game on a pretty good run. In the second quarter we settled in and they really took it to us. We didn't have the energy we needed to win. On defense, we gave up way too many points. We can't allow that to happen. It's tough to win games like that. We had no problems on offense and they didn't play great defense, either, but we played worse defense because we gave up more points.''
Chatham started the game well, moving to a 10-2 lead as Delaney drove the lane and fed Colin McKenna and Stefan Goles for consecutive baskets. Jake Bevich broke the press off a fast-break football throw from Tristan LeMon. Goles and McKenna each hit a basket to make it 10-2. Rooney came on later in the quarter to lay in a long pass from Delaney and then posted up for a 3-pointer from the right corner as Chatham took a 19-16 lead.
In the second quarter, Hanover Park opened with a 12-2 burst that staked it to a 28-21 lead it never relinquished.
"I don't think the press hurt us that much. We got a lot of easy stuff off it, we just didn't make any shots off it," Chatham coach Todd Ervin said. "We got open looks. We didn't make many open looks and they made their open looks. We were horrible defensively. We knew certain kids did certain things and we didn't prevent it. We let them keep on doing it. It was just a bad performance defensively. It was a very strange game. Hard to figure out."
Late in the third quarter, Chatham freshman Johnny Maurer drove to the basket and was fouled as his shot dropped. He completed the three-point play to cut the deficit to 54-51 with 1:14 left. Hanover Park managed to hold off Chatham's momentum throughout the game by getting to the foul line.
After Delaney's behind-the-back pass resulted in two free throws made by Goles, slicing the deficit to eight with 1:44 left, Matt Winschuh sank four straight foul shots for Hanover Park to make it 79-63.
Chatham made 17 of 25 foul shots in the game, but Hanover Park held a 14-point advantage at the line.
"We have stuff to work on," Delaney said. "We have to close out shooters better. We have to get more rebounds, box our man out, just the fundamentals. We lacked the basic fundamentals tonight. We knew it was a winnable game. Credit to Hanover Park."
The game was lost on the defensive end, where Chatham allowed 53 more points than it had allowed the night before. Regardless of the opponent, that's a big gap.
"We were getting easy baskets in transition," Delaney said. "It was the defense that let us down tonight."
Graham Delaney drives for two points during second half for Chatham vs. Hanover Park
Colin McKenna scores off a pass from Graham Delaney in the first quarter for Chatham