CHATHAM, NJ - Although the Chatham Men's Basketball team will play at home Tuesday against Linden in the first round of the state tournament, the 57-45 win over Parsippany Hills on Saturday night was special for the group of seniors on the roster.
Christopher Conroy, Casey Gill, Kevin Giannattasio and Adam Kovonuk looked back on their journey to this point in their basketball careers and realized what it took to get to this point. After a great freshman season and adventures through the junior varsity and varsity levels, they played their final regular season game on their home court and will move on to the state tournament next Tuesday.
Conroy finished with 16 points and five assists. He found Kovonuk on the first play of the game for a fast break lay-up. Kovonuk added four points and two assists of his own.
Casey Gill had five points, but what mattered for Casey, like it does for him in most games, was his dominant post presence. He was able to make the opposing players frustrated, leading to Parsippany Hills forward John Jablonka getting two technical fouls and an ejection. He was also involved in several altercations with Viking Greg DePugh. "We were just two physical players goin' at it," said Gill. "I needed to show him what was up."
Chatham led 13-3 at the end of the first quarter. The Vikings shot 9.09% from the field in that timeframe and did not make their first two-point basket until 32 seconds had ticked off the clock in the second quarter.
The Vikings refused to let up. A strong comeback effort, mostly led by DePugh and guard Cole Thomas, allowed them to trail by only three points at halftime.
Throughout the second half, the Cougars were able to pull away and maintain a lead in double digits. "At the end we locked them down defensively and forced them to take tough shots," said sophomore guard Jonathan Berntsen, who finished with 12 points in very limited playing time.
Chatham improved to 15-10 on the season heading into states. The Cougars will look to maintain their strong defensive effort and balanced scoring attack in the tournament.
Par Hills fell to 2-20 on the season. Greg DePugh had 18 points while Cole Thomas had 15.