MORRISTOWN, NJ - Opposing teams are going to be out to stop Chatham's senior backcourt of Jack Rooney and Mac Bredahl and that was a game plan that worked for Delbarton Friday night in a 61-51 season-opening win over the Cougars.
"We did not play well offensively," Chatham coach Todd Ervin said. "Hard gym to play in. They're good and if you're not shooting well, it's a struggle to score. We had some good looks and didn't make many of them. That was the difference."
Delbarton came out with a plan to pressure Rooney by face-guarding him. The strategy took the 1,000-point scorer out of the offense as a shooter early on. Rooney didn't attempt his first shot of the game until midway through the second period and finished the game with seven points.
"I passed up an early shot and that put pressure on me to pass more because I didn't want to force my shots," Rooney said. "I can't do that. I blame this loss on me. It was frustrating. I don't want to be face-guarded, but that's going to happen. I just have to let the game come to me."
The Cougars seemed to be up to the task in the first quarter, putting together a 9-2 burst to grab the lead. Ryan Doherty's 3-pointer gave Chatham its first points of the season and ignited the run. Andrew Bergman scored on an offensive rebound and then scored off an in-bound pass from Bredahl before Bredahl capped the burst with a steal and dash to the basket for a layup.
Doherty's fast-break layup off Rooney's feed made it 13-12 for the Cougars heading into the second quarter.
But the baskets were hard to come by as Chatham hit just 2-of-11 shots from the floor in the second period while the Green Wave hit five 3-pointers over the same span to outscore the Cougars, 22-11, and take a 34-24 lead into the break.
"I thought our bigs played really well," Ervin said. "We got points out of them and scored inside. We just didn't get much from the perimeter. We didn't make enough shots. Strange game. I don't know what our percentage was, but it wasn't good. It's a long season. We'll learn."
Sophomore forward Bergman scored all eight of his points in the first half and senior forward Chris Conlin hit for all nine of his points in the second half. Doherty led the way overall with 11 points for Chatham and Bredahl ended with eight points.
"We just didn't have it tonight, our shots weren't falling." Bredahl said. "We didn't get enough stops and our shots weren't falling. When you come into a place like this and play like that you're not going to win games."
Delbarton held a 16-point lead before Chatham closed out the third quarter by scoring the final seven points, slicing the deficit to 44-35. During the burst, Conlin hit inside and Doherty scored off a pass from Bredahl, who drained a 3-pointer with 19 seconds left in the quarter. The Green Wave scored the first four points in the fourth period and held off Chatham the rest of the way.
"We didn't get enough stops," Doherty said. "Our defense was nowhere near where it can be. We can't give up so many second shots."
Ryan Doherty scores the first points of the season for the Cougars with this 3-pointer
Chatham forward Chris Conlin scores off Jack Rooney's pass in the second half