CHATHAM, NJ - When the other team is shooting the lights out from 3-point range, it's nice to have the security that comes with an inside threat.
Junior forward Colin McKenna returned from a three-game absence due to a sprained ankle and scored 17 points to help Chatham overcome 14 3-point baskets by Morristown as the Cougars scored a 68-56 victory on Friday night.
"He played great," Chatham coach Todd Ervin said. "He missed Delbarton, Mendham and Roxbury and only played half the game before that. A team like that has problems defending him because he can score inside. He made a huge difference in the game today."
McKenna scored two early baskets before he had to sit because of foul trouble. But he returned in the second quarter to spark a 12-0 run that staked Chatham (8-3) to a 33-20 advantage. McKenna ignited the run with two straight baskets, the second on a spin move in the lane. Graham DeLaney (20 points) then hit a short jumper before McKenna scored inside again.
"He was a huge boost for us," DeLaney said. "We've been waiting for that return. He was a beast in the first half. That's what we expected from him. We're excited that he's back."
Jake Bevich continued the streak when he went up-and-under for a pretty layup before DeLaney closed the surge with one of his three 3-pointers.
McKenna scored two baskets early in the third quarter - both off passes from Tristan LeMon - before Morristown (4-6) caught fire from 3-point range for a 13-2 burst that cut the Colonials' deficit to 39-37. Jack Mongey and Collin Brunnock each drained two 3-pointers for Morristown in the spurt. Rohan Walker, who led Morristown with 19 points, and Mongey each hit five threes in the game. Walker was held to two points in the second half.
"We knew they could shoot coming into the game," DeLaney said. "They hit a lot of shots; they have some great shooters. That's why we had to buckle down. We played some great defense in the fourth quarter. If we had backed down, they would have kept making threes."
The Cougars responded to Morristown's burst with a Delaney 3-pointer, LeMon's steal for a basket and McKenna's foul shot to raise its lead back to 45-37.
"Chatham is a very good team with a really strong tradition and good coaching," Morristown coach Bill Connolly said. "They played well tonight. They're good defensively."
Morristown freshman Will O'Neill's 3-point shot closed Chatham's lead to 60-55 with 2:01 left, but Chatham iced the game at the foul line, making all eight of its free throws over the final 1:32 of the game, two by Jack Rooney (9 points) and six by DeLaney.
"I knew they shot a lot of threes, but our focus was to keep them out of the paint and have them shoot contested threes," Ervin said. "Like I told the kids, no one is going to beat you shooting all threes, it just doesn't happen. We tightened up a little bit more in the second half."
Chatham cooled off Morristown by making its free throws down the stretch, sinking 8 of 9 over the final 2:39.
Colin McKenna made an impact in his return for Chatham. See videos below.