IRVINGTON, NJ - An Irvington fan could be heard yelling in the second half that it was "payback for two years ago. We haven't forgotten. That was a painful loss."
The Knights were heavily favored Wednesday night as the No. 2 seed in the section against No. 10 seed Chatham. Still, there obviously was some lingering feelings about the state sectional championship the Cougars won over Irvington two years ago.
Irvington came out with an aggressive defense that caused nine turnovers in the first quarter as the Knights got off to a fast start in their eventual 74-39 win over Chatham.
"I'm sure they had some extra motivation," Chatham coach Todd Ervin said. "That team is very good and we don't have the ballhandlers to handle that kind of pressure. Right from the beginning they turned us over and got layups and layups and layups. They also banked a couple of threes and that didn't help."
Moses Pierre scored the first 10 points for Irvington (25-3), which led 20-9 at the end of one period. Pierre ended with a game-high 23 points and teammate Karriem Thomas hit five 3-pointers on his way to 18 points.
E.J. Leskauskas scored off a pass from Jack Arnuk
Jameson Shi scores off a pass from Sean Barry for Chatham
COUGAR NOTES: Chatham's 2018 state sectional championship team won the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 title over Irvington, 61-45, in a game the Cougars led at halftime by a stunning score of 45-18. In that first half, Mac Bredahl scored 17 of his game-high 20 points and Ryan Doherty scored all 18 of his points, accounting for 78 percent of Chatham's 45 points over the first 16 minutes ... Chatham seniors Andrew Bergman and E.J. Leskauskas played in that 2018 title game as sophomores against Irvington. Bergman had six points, six rebounds, an assist and a block and Leskauskas contributed three rebounds.
Coach Todd Ervin owns a 499-262 record in his tenure at Chatham and will be looking to become the 38th boys basketball coach in state history to reach 500 wins. No. 37 on the list is Frank "Finn" Tracey of Seton Hall Prep with 509 wins and tied for No. 35 are Joe D'Alessandro of Somerville and Kevin Boyle of St. Patrick with 512 each.
"I don't care about (number 500), I only care about winning," Ervin said. "Hopefully, the younger guys got some experience and realize what they have to do to get better."
Sophomore guard Cam Rooney led Chatham (12-14) with 9 points against Irvington. He scored 35 points in Chatham's two state tournament games for a 17.5 average ... E.J. Leskauskas ended with five points, three blocks, two assists and two rebounds for the Cougars, who had 10 players score in the game.