CHATHAM, NJ - Senior E.J. Leskauskas had blood gushing from a cut on his nose when he left the game with 18 seconds left in the first period. Classmate Andrew Bergman left the gym in a wheelchair after taking a spill in the fourth quarter.
It was that kind of night for the Chatham boys basketball team, which fought to the end despite the absence of two of its best players in the 61-54 setback to visiting Sparta on Tuesday night.
Leskauskas stood his ground in trying to draw the charge but took an elbow to the nose that opened a cut that required emergency room attention. Bergman was in the midst of one of his better games, leading the Cougars with 17 points when he tried to tip in an offensive rebound (see video below) with 5:17 left in the fourth. He injured his ankle and went straight from the gym to seek medical attention.
"Yeah, that's a first," Chatham coach Todd Ervin said of having two players leave the same game and requiring medical treatment. "What are we going to do. It was next man up. Hopefully, they'll be able to play."
Bergman was having one of his best games for Chatham (10-7), scoring nine points in the opening quarter and six more in the second period for 15 points at the break. Sparta (11-4) led at halftime, 36-33.
The Cougars, who had beaten Sparta in an overtime game earlier in the season, was plagued by turnovers at the start of the third quarter. The Spartans took advantage of three turnovers to score six points and grab a 42-33 advantage with 5:29 Left in the quarter.
But Chatham closed out the third with a 14-6 run that sliced its deficit to one. Cam Rooney ignited the burst with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Senior Sean Barry followed with a 3-pointer from up top (see below) off a pass from James Platek before Barry fed Bergman for a basket inside (see below).
Rooney's second 3-pointer of the period cut the deficit to 46-44 with 1:37 left (see below) before Luke Fekete's 3-pointer with 44 seconds showing (see below) cut it to 48-47 entering the final period.
Sparta made it a hill too steep to climb when it scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to build a 56-47 lead.