CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham boys basketball team has come to expect consistent scoring from guard Jack Rooney and Graham LeMon this season. But it's hard not to notice that the Cougars struggled offensively during a stretch when teammate Johnny Maurer was recovering from an injury.
Maurer showed that he's back to full strength in Chatham's 60-47 win over Mount Olive on Saturday night and that's a good omen for the Cougars as they try to defend their 2016 Morris County Tournament championship.
Chatham (12-5) got off to a good start in the 2017 MCT against Mount Olive (5-11), with Rooney hitting for 13 points, LeMon dropping in 11 points and Maurer contributing 10.
"We're playing much better offensively, so, hopefully that continues," Chatham coach Todd Ervin said. "Johnny (Maurer) looked great. When Johnny plays like that, we're pretty good."
The junior guard ignited a 10-point run for the Cougars in the second quarter by taking a pass from Mac Bredahl and draining a 3-pointer from the left corner. Just 25 seconds later, Maurer scored on a drive to the basket and was fouled. He sank the bonus free throw. Kyle Kology and Rooney followed with baskets to hand Chatham a 29-15 lead.
Chatham guard Johnny Maurer is healthy and the Cougar offense is, too
The Marauders answered the Chatham run in the second quarter with a 7-0 burst of their own. LeMon hit a put-back at the buzzer to give Chatham a 31-22 advantage at the break.
"Everyone on the floor can score," Maurer said. "So it's like five threats that they have to account for and that makes it very hard to guard. When we're scoring and moving, we're a tough team to stop."
Chatham continued to click in the third quarter. Chris Conlin and Ryan Doherty each connected for a 3-pointer, staking the Cougars to a 43-28 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Maurer hit a baseline jumper and sank two free throws in succession, pushing Chatham's lead to 55-37 to help close out the victory.
Graham LeMon finishes a pass from Mac Bredahl in the first half for Chatham
Graham LeMon converts a pass from Johnny Maurer in the third quarter for Chatham
Chatham plays at home 7 p.m. Tuesday against Mendham in its cancer fundraiser.