CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham struggled to get the ball inside to Colin McKenna, the flow of the game was interrupted by numerous fouls and baskets were hard to come by.
In other words, it was a typical game against the hard-nosed Minutemen, the defending Morris County Tournament champion.
Chatham, led by the guard play of Jack Rooney, Mac Bredahl and Tristan LeMon proved to be tough enough to defeat Mendham, 57-50, in pushing the Cougars' record to 7-0 on Tuesday night.
"They did a good job of denying me the post and they have one of the best coaching staffs in Morris County and they knew we were going to pound it inside," McKenna, who ended with eight points and eight rebounds, said.
"So, every time I was in there they were doubling and tripling me. They're going to grab and hit you, but you have to get used to it. That left open shots for our guards. Rooney got to the basket really well and finished. The guards are the reason we won the game tonight."
An example of how physical it was on the court came late in the third quarter when Tristan LeMon had to leave the game with blood dripping from his mouth.
"We knew (it would be physical) coming in," Chatham coach Todd Ervin said. "So we just have to do a better job; make our foul shots and take better shots. It's that kind game."
John Burkard's basket on a put-back that fell as the buzzer sounded to end the first period gave Chatham an 11-10 edge. The Cougars took the lead for good in the second period with an 11-0 run.
LeMon (9 points) ignited the streak with a 3-pointer from the left corner on a feed from Bredahl. McKenna scored on a pass from Rooney and Rooney sank three free throws around two foul shots by Bredahl (12 points). LeMon then stole the ball and scored for a 23-14 advantage with 2:41 left in the half.
Bredahl's 3-pointer from the top of the key and foul shot by Rooney, who scored a game-high 14 points, sent the Cougars into the break with a 31-20 lead.
"They're really scrappy," said Rooney, who scored half his points at the foul line. "It's nice to get the win. A win is a win, but we definitely have to step it up and play better."
McKenna's three-point play pushed the lead to 45-31 with 6:53 left in the fourth quarter. Bredahl's two free throws made it 54-39 with 1:45 showing before Mendham made a late run.
Jack Rooney's drive to the basket staked Chatham to a 49-39 lead with 3 minutes to go
Three shots for a quarter? Tristan LeMon rebounds his own miss and practically passes it to himself before completing a 3-point play in the third quarter