SUCCASUNNA, NJ - Chatham sophomore guard Cam Rooney made one of the most incredible shots of his high school career, but he had no time to celebrate it.
That's because he still needed to collect himself and make the bonus free throw with two seconds left in regulation to complete a rare four-point play that would tie the game and force overtime against Roxbury.
Rooney's four-point play - a 3-pointer that banked in and a foul shot - tied the game at 49-49. He followed that with an encore in his 26-point performance, dropping in a 3-pointer at the buzzer in overtime (see below) and culminating an improbable 61-58 Chatham win over host Roxbury in the opening round of the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 state tournament on Monday night.
Rooney, who hit five 3-pointers in the game, sinks the bonus free throw to tie the game in regulation below.
The win snapped a six-game losing streak for Chatham (12-13), earning coach Todd Ervin his 499th career victory. The 10th-seeded Cougars live on to play at No. 2 seed Irvington (24-3) on Wednesday in the second round.
"It was an incredible team effort to go on the road and get a win," Ervin said. "Cam Rooney hit two huge shots to send the game into overtime and to win the game but it was a team win all around".
Roxbury (18-7) held a seven-point lead with 1:30 left in the fourth quarter and had a seemingly safe 49-45 lead with seven seconds showing. But Rooney pushed the ball downcourt as fast as he could and let fly with an awkward shot that banked in as he was fouled in front of the Chatham bench.
"I don't know how to explain it," Rooney said. "As soon it left my hand, I felt there was a chance and it banked in. I couldn't really celebrate because I had to make the free throw. I just told myself I'm going to make this. I've never made a four-point play before."
Rooney scored the final seven points of regulation and then connected for the last eight Cougar points in overtime, including the 3-pointer that won it.
The Cougars led, 58-57, before a Roxbury free throw tied the game at 58-58 with 30 seconds to go. Chatham held for the last shot with Rooney taking his winning shot off a high screen.
Cougar senior Luke Fekete contributed 11 points in the win and the game featured the return of senior E.J. Leskauskas, who was playing his first game back after suffering a concussion in early February.
"The next game is huge with us having a chance to win 500 (for coach Ervin)," Rooney said. "We got E.J. back, We've been missing him and he held his own after not playing for a month."
Leskauskas finished with nine points and senior Jack Arnuk had eight for Chatham. Roxbury (18-7) received a game-high 30 points from Kyle Haegele.
It was the second winning 3-pointer for Rooney this season. Rooney also hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds to lift Chatham over Somerville, 64-63, in December.