MOUNTAIN LAKES, NJ – The Chatham Cougars (21-4) had an 11-point lead over Mountain Lakes at halftime, but saw their lead dwindle to just four at the end of the third quarter. They were outscored 13-5 in the fourth quarter en route to their second loss in two days when they were defeated 49-45 on Tuesday night at Mountain Lakes High School.
With the score 30-19 in Chatham’s favor heading into the third quarter, it appeared as if they had the game well in hand, especially after starting out so well.
Senior guard Jonathon Berntsen scored 16 points in the first quarter in only his fourth start after returning from injury a few weeks ago, the team hit for six three-pointers in the first half and they only committed three turnovers through the first two quarters.
“We shared the ball. I thought we moved the ball pretty well and we didn’t turn the ball over. That was the difference. In the second half we decided we wanted to turn the ball over,” Chatham Head Coach Todd Ervin said. “I think we were too comfortable. We talked about guarding against that but it didn’t work."
Chatham were up by 12 midway through the third when Mountain Lakes went on an 11-2 run to close within three with just over two minutes left until the final quarter of play.
They relinquished a lead that they held throughout much of the contest with 2:53 left in the fourth when Chris Robertson drove and scored over Chatham’s Drew Ballard to make the score 43-42.
And Chatham were not able to recover after being down by one late in the game. Mountain Lakes scored the next six points before Scott Baker hit three just before the game-ending buzzer.
There were other factors that contributed to the poor second half performance from Chatham other than turnovers.
The team went ice cold shooting; hitting only one three ball in the second half, while missing on six attempts. They also seemed to abandon their inside game. Center Colin Brown only had seven points in the second half and Chatham’s other big threat in Joe Timmes had none through the third and fourth quarter.
“We just settled. We decided that we wanted to shoot three-pointers. We didn’t want to get any easy baskets. We stopped playing offense,” Ervin said of the second half.
Perhaps the most glaring statistic of the game is that Berntsen did not have a basket in the second, third and fourth quarter after being red hot in the first. After his fast start, he missed nine shots the rest of the way through while committing three turnovers.
“They (Mountain Lakes) started playing him tougher and he started forcing shots,” Ervin said. “Other people have got to step up and no one did."
Chatham picked a bad time of the year to be on their only two game losing streak. After a loss to Madison last night, the team must recover from back to back defeats and prepare for the most important game of their season thus far.
That game is the Morris County Tournament finals that will see fourth-seeded Chatham take on sixth-seeded Mount Olive this Saturday at 7 p.m. at Morris County College.
You May Also Be Interested In