RANDOLPH, NJ - The saying is "Don't let your guard down." When it comes to Chatham boys basketball this season, coach Todd Ervin has come up with his own slogan about Mac Bredahl and Jack Rooney: "My senior guards won't let me down."
Bredahl and Rooney combined to score 30 points and led the way as top-seeded Chatham defeated Delbarton, 47-41, to three-peat as Morris County Tournament Champions on Saturday at the County College of Morris.
"If you've got the lead at the end of the game with those two guards, it's hard to lose it," Ervin said. "They're so good. With the lead with our guards, it's hard to lose games."
It was the fourth straight MCT final for Chatham (22-5) and its third straight championship. Rooney, who finished with a game-high 18 points, has been a starter for Chatham all four years and was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2018 MCT.
"Jack started four straight years in the finals, which is unbelievable," Ervin said. "You're just so confident when they have the ball in their hands that something good is going to happen. Whether it's a three-pointer, a layup, whatever. They don't turn the ball over a lot and they make good decisions. They've played on his court for what seems forever, so the experience they have here is ridiculous."
Former Chatham coach Tony Mack, honored at halftime as a "Coaching Legend," said that Bredahl and Rooney "are the best two guards I've seen this year."
Rooney stands 7-1 in MCT games on the County College of Morris court and Bredahl is undefeated at 6-0 in MCT games. The two seniors talk about what they've accomplished in video below.
Chatham held a 21-14 lead at halftime. In the third quarter, a drive of the lane by Bredahl (see video below) and Rooney's reverse layup helped Chatham gain a 25-16 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Nick Gubler's 3-pointer gave Delbarton (19-6) a 35-34 edge with 5:21 to go before Bredahl made a steal and fed Chris Conlin, who scored on the break (see video below) and was fouled. He sank the bonus foul shot to regain the lead for the Cougars at 37-35 with 4:28 left.
Seniors Daniel Baker and Conlin may have made the pivotal play of the game when Rooney missed the front end of one-and-one with 1:35 to go. The 6-6 Baker fought for the rebound and knocked it loose, allowing Conlin to grab it (see video below).
Conlin followed with two clutch free throws in a one-and-one situation (see video below) to give Chatham a 39-35 lead with 1:32 left.
The Cougars then sealed the game at the foul line, with Rooney sinking two fouls with 1:09 left, Bredahl making two with 57.5 showing and Rooney hitting two more with 24.6 ticks left.
"It wasn't our greatest game offensively, we didn't shoot the ball great but we made some big baskets," Ervin said. "Defensively, we played great and I thought that was the difference in the game."
Chris Conlin and Ryan Doherty talk about winning a third straight MCT crown
COUGAR NOTES: Chatham made 12 of 16 free throws in the fourth quarter ... Rooney joins Chatham MVP winners Billy Oliver (2007), Jonathan Berntsen (2012), Stefan Goles (2016) and Graham LeMon (2017) ... Chatham has now won five MCT championships in the last 12 years under coach Todd Ervin, who has taken seven teams to the final over that span ... Chatham's MCT wins have come over Delbarton twice (2007, 2016), Mount Olive (2012), Randolph (2016) and Morristown-Beard (2017) ... Chatham plays host to Orange on Monday night in the opening round of the state tournament.