MOUNTAIN LAKES, NJ - Cam Rooney had the best game of his varsity career, nearly carrying Chatham to a comeback win over Mountain Lakes on Monday. But the sophomore guard's 24-point effort was a sobering reminder that Chatham is not likely to thrive as a one-man team this season.
No one realized that more than Rooney himself after Mountain Lakes pulled out a 55-51 overtime win.
"For us to be in these games, I have to contribute," Rooney said. "I have to be able to shoot the ball and I did that. I was lucky enough to make most of my shots, but it's not a one-man show. It's getting stops. It's a team thing. Everyone has to do their part and play hard as a team."
In the overtime period, Chatham (1-1) got defensive stops on three straight possessions by Mountain Lakes to open the extra session, but the Cougars just couldn't get one to drop on the offensive end.
"Our last four possessions (of OT) we had open shots, we just didn't make them," Chatham coach Todd Ervin said. "(Rooney) had a huge game. He kept us in it. I thought we did some good things. It's not just going to be five guys. Everyone is going to have to step up."
Andrew Bergman gave Chatham its only points of overtime when he hit a jump shot that tied the game at 51-51 with 59 seconds left (see video below).
James Petersen's basket in the lane put Mountain Lakes up, 53-51, and Chatham had 6.3 seconds left when the Cougars in-bounded the ball. Jack Casano-Boris drove to the basket and was met in the air by a Mountain Lakes defender (see video below). No call was made on the play.
"We made those defensive stops and put ourselves in a good position to win," Bergman said. "That team is defending their section and a contender for the Group 2 title, so I'm happy with the way we played in the second game of the season. We just have to keep getting better every game."
The way the game was going in the first half it was quite an accomplishment that Chatham was able to take the lead in the second half and have a chance to win the game at all. And it was Rooney and his clicking offensive game that turned around the fortunes for the Cougars.
With seniors Bergman and E.J. Leskauskas (3 fouls in the first quarter) sitting for long periods with foul trouble, the Lakers built a 26-12 lead and looked primed for a blowout win. Chatham, however, closed out the final 2:54 of the first with an 11-3 run that shrunk the deficit to 29-23.
Casano-Boris and freshman Ryan Leskauskas each hit two free throws to ignite the run before Rooney took over with a 3-pointer, a foul shot and a 3-pointer at the buzzer (see videos below) off a pass from Cam Druhot.
Rooney scored eight more points in the third quarter to key a surge that put Chatham in the lead for the first time. Rooney's pull-up jumper made it 36-34 for Chatham. Luke Fekete's basket (see video below) with 14 seconds left in the third helped the Cougars take a 40-39 edge into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Ryan Leskauskas, filling in for his older brother, received a bounce pass from Fekete and turned it into a basket (see video below) that made it 42-39 for Chatham.
E.J. Leskauskas, who finished with four fouls, returned midway through the fourth quarter to score six of his eight points down the stretch. He scores in the lane in video below.
COUGAR NOTES: Rooney hit 5 of the 9 three-pointers he attempted in the game. He did not attempt a shot in the fourth quarter and took one shot in overtime, a 3-pointer that rimmed out ... David McFadden hit six 3-pointers and ended with a game-high 25 points for Mountain Lakes ... Senior Jack Arnuk made a big block in the fourth quarter for Chatham, snuffing a shot by the Lakers' 6-7 Spencer Myler, who did not score for the rest of the game after the block ... Chatham returns from the Christmas break to play New Providence, 8 p.m. Friday in the Cougar Classic.