RANDOLPH, NJ - Even after the second loss to Delbarton during the regular season, the Chatham boys basketball team still clung to the belief that it was the better team.
The Cougars picked the best time to prove that point on Saturday night by eliminating Delbarton, 54-41, in the quarterfinals of the Morris County Tournament at Randolph High.
"There were times we couldn't put it together, but we know we're better than them," Chatham senior Graham LeMon said. "Today it all came together and we showed that we're a better team. We play well when we pass the ball around and we all share it. So when everyone is touching the ball, we know we're going to score on that possession."
Jack Rooney talks about how Chatham defeated Delbarton in its third try this season
LeMon, who scored a team-high 13 points, helped Chatham finish the first half strong by converting a pass from Chris Conlin for a basket. Cougar guard Jack Rooney then fed Conlin, who drained a 3-pointer from the left corner with six seconds showing to make it a 22-14 lead heading into the break.
"The way we finished the first half with Chris Conlin hitting that three, I thought it gave us momentum," Chatham coach Todd Ervin said. "We ended up moving the ball and getting some good looks. I'm very happy with the performance and I'm happy for the kids after having lost to them twice."
In each of the losses to Delbarton (13-6), the first in double overtime, Chatham built leads only to lose them in the second half. In their third try against the Green Wave, the Cougars used a 15-5 burst in the third quarter to open up a 37-19 lead.
Rooney, who finished with 10 points, swished in a 3-pointer from the top of the key to get it started in the third. LeMon grabbed an offensive board and made a strong move on the baseline and followed up his own miss with a basket gained on sheer determination (see video below). Mac Bredahl then stole the ball and took it all the way in for two points.
After Jaedon Khubani interrupted by hitting a long 3-pointer for Delbarton, Bredahl countered with a 3-pointer off an unusual feed from John Burkard. Burkard fell to the ground fighting for an offensive rebound and fed Bredahl the ball with his back resting on the floor.
Mac Bredahl hits the 3-pointer after John Burkard threw him the pass from a prone position
Bredahl then continued his productive third quarter by sending a pass underneath to Kyle Kology, who scored and was fouled. He converted the bonus free throw for a three-point play. Kology then capped the spree by dropping in a layup off a pass from Ryan Doherty (see below).
"All year, we've come out slow in the second half and we kind of changed that today, we emphasized it," Bredahl said. "It kind of felt good that we were able to come out firing in the third quarter. When we're making our shots, we're not going to be easy to beat so it felt good to see them falling."
In the fourth quarter, Doherty contributed a floater in the lane that dropped as he was fouled. He hit the bonus to push the advantage to 42-26. A 3-pointer by Bredahl, Conlin's follow of a missed shot and Burkard's layup off Bredahl's pass in the lane pretty much sealed it with 3:13 to go.
"When everyone plays that well it's hard to beat us," Rooney said. "One night we score 31 points against Mendham and the next we might score 60 points. When (LeMon) scores, he gets pumped up and we all get pumped up."
Chatham senior Graham LeMon scores two of his team-high 13 points vs. Delbarton
No. 3 seeded Chatham (14-5) will meet No. 2 seed Randolph (15-4) in the MCT semifinals Saturday at the County College of Morris. It is a rematch of the 2016 MCT final, which was won by Chatham. Randolph earned its trip to the semifinals by edging Mountain Lakes, 52-51, in its quarterfinal game Saturday.