CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham boys basketball team performed the role of perfect hosts when New Providence visited for the opening round of the Cougar Classic on Friday night.
The Pioneers apparently felt right at home as they drained nine 3-pointers in the first half, building a nine-point lead at the break and holding off a late Chatham charge to secure a 68-59 win.
"It took us halfway through the third for us to play harder and defend better," Chatham coach Todd Ervin said. "We just couldn't score to start the second half, that's what hurt us. Then we started making baskets and that's what got us back into it."
New Providence (1-1) held a 51-39 lead with 2:06 left in the third quarter before E.J. Leskauskas scored a fast-break layup off a pass from Jameson Shi. The Cougars then got six straight points from junior guard Jack Casano-Boris to start the fourth quarter on two free throws, a basket off a pass from Cam Rooney and a jumper, closing the deficit to 51-47.
Jack Casano-Boris scored nine points in the fourth quarter, including this left-handed layup in the video below
James Platek came off the bench to contribute two big baskets in Chatham's fourth-quarter rally, the first a drive to the basket (see the video below) and seconds later a steal that he converted to slide the deficit to 56-51 with 4:25 showing. Casano-Boris then drained a 3-pointer that made it 56-54 midway through the period.
Freshman Ryan Leskauskas scored his only three points of the game when he drove to the basket and was fouled (see below). The shot dropped in and Leskauskas hit the bonus free throw to tie the score at 59-59 with 2:29 to play in the fourth.
Senior Sean Dillon's drive to the basket with 2:15 left ignited a closing 9-point run by the Pioneers. Dillon led all scorers with 21 points.
"I think we just ran out of gas," Ervin said. "We expended so much energy to get back into it that we just ran out of gas at the end."
COUGAR NOTES: The Pioneers finished the game with 10 3-pointers, four by sophomore Nick Bisaccia, who finished with 19 points ... Chatham hit two 3-pointers, one apiece from E.J. Leskauskas and Jack Casano-Boris ... the two Leskauskas brothers, senior E.J. and freshman Ryan, were in the starting lineup together for the first time ... E.J. Leskauskas fouled out with 5:06 left in the fourth quarter. He scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter ... Jack Casano-Boris led Chatham with 14 points, nine of those coming in the fourth quarter ... Cam Rooney had 10 points for Chatham.