RANDOLPH, NJ - The Chatham boys basketball team has enjoyed its share of success on the County College of Morris court over the past four years during the Morris County Tournament and the Cougars flaunted that familiarity on Saturday in its matchup with Morristown.
Top-seeded Chatham, sparked by its seniors, built a 17-point lead in the first half and rolled to a 61-33 victory that put the Cougars into their fourth straight MCT final, where they will meet Delbarton in the 49th annual championship game set for 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, also at CCM.
Chatham (20-5) will be trying to win its third straight MCT crown.
"I think our defense was as good as it was all year," Cougar senior guard Jack Rooney said. "Mac (Bredahl) was on fire today. When he gets going, it helps everybody. We're just going to have to play our game in the final. It feels great.
"I don't know if it's hit me yet, but looking back on it, it's going to be a nice achievement. All of us get the butterflies before the game, but we've been here before. This is going to be my fourth county final I've played in and I'm looking forward to a three-peat."
Bredahl, who has been through a rough week, which included the passing of his grandfather, James Bredahl, was back on his game vs. Morristown (10-13). The senior guard handled the ball flawlessly, drew defenders to him as he set up teammates for easy baskets, and hit for nine of his game-high 16 points in the first half.
Mac Bredahl talks about his week and the game the Cougars played in the MCT semifinals
Rooney scored all five of his points in the first quarter when the Cougars opened to a 15-8 lead, including this 3-pointer from the left corner.
An example of Bredahl's influence on the game was this bounce pass to Chris Conlin in the second quarter.
Chatham built a 28-11 lead over the first two quarters and put together a 14-point run in the third quarter that ballooned the lead to 46-19.
"We made shots and we got good looks," Chatham coach Todd Ervin said. "We just wanted to limit their layups and make them take perimeter shots and that's what happened. This game was big, so I knew we'd be ready."
The Cougars scored the final nine points of the first half, ignited by Ryan Doherty's foul-line jumper (see video below), Bredahl's 3-pointer (see video below) and Daniel Baker's side jumper with 1.5 seconds showing (see video below).
Chatham left no doubt about the outcome of the game with a 14-point spree in the third quarter that pushed its lead to 27 points. Senior Chris Conlin highlighted that run with a 3-pointer from the top of the key, followed by a steal that he turned into two free throws and another steal that he fed to Bredahl, who subsequently sank two free throws.
Sophomore Andrew Bergman was the second-leading scorer for the Cougars with 13 points, contributing five points in that decisive third-quarter burst.
COUGAR NOTES: Chatham earned its first MCT championship in 2007 when it won in overtime against Delbarton ... The MCT final will be Chatham's third meeting this season with Delbarton, losing the season opener on Dec. 15 at Delbarton, 61-51, and winning at home on Jan. 22, 50-45 ... The Cougars are playing their fourth different team in making it to four straight finals, losing to Mendham in 2015, topping Randolph in 2016 and winning over Morristown-Beard in 20-17 ... Chatham has four MCT championships under its belt, all coached by Todd Ervin, who has guided seven Chatham teams into the MCT final ... This year will mark the 10th MCT final for a Chatham team, which includes three final losses by Chatham Borough High in 1973 (Morristown), 1977 (West Morris) and 1979 (Parsippany) under coach Tony Mack.