CHATHAM, NJ - The message at halftime from Chatham boys basketball coach Todd Ervin was the same one senior guard Jack Rooney has been hearing for four years now.
"He told us we're not going to win this game on offense, like he's said for four years," Rooney said. "Defense is going to win us the game and that's how we did it."
Rooney scored 19 points for the second straight game and hit six straight foul shots in the closing minutes to help Chatham defeat Morristown-Beard, 56-41, on Saturday night in a rematch of last year's Morris County Tournament game won by the Cougars.
"Not starting the last game (Parsippany Hills) made me step back and take a deep breath and let everything come to me," Rooney said. "I felt good today."
Rooney was complemented on the offensive end by senior guard Mac Bredahl's 13 points and nine points apiece from Chris Conlin and Andrew Bergman. Senior Conlin drew the toughest defensive assignment for the Cougars, guarding Justin Rodriguez of Morristown-Beard.
Rodriguez paced Morristown-Beard (7-4) with 16 points, but scored all of them int he second half, nine from the foul line.
"Conlin played great defense (on Rodriguez)," Ervin said. "The overall defense was real good. We were trying to limit their drives and made them take more perimeter shots. It was a very good win for us."
Chatham (9-3) not only kept Morristown-Beard out of the lane, but it held the Crimson to just two 3-pointers.
Chris Conlin talks about the defense Chatham played in defeating Morristown-Beard
"It was a great team win all-around," Bredahl said. "I think we had one of our best defensive games of the year and that usually equates to a win. When we play good defense we're a very hard team to beat. So it's a matter of bringing it every night.
"We just tried to clog the lane and not give them any easy layups. We went over it with coach. Our main idea was to stop them from getting into the paint and make them a 3-point shooting team."
The Cougars put the game away with a 22-11 advantage in the fourth quarter, opening the final period with a 9-2 burst. Bredahl drove to the basket for two and Bergman scored inside off a pass from Conlin. Bredahl's 3-pointer and Rooney's pull-up jumper pushed the Chatham lead to 43-32 with 4:40 showing.
Andrew Bergman scores two of his nine points on his pass from Jack Rooney
Jack Rooney hits a pull-up jumper for Chatham in the fourth quarter
Chris Conlin's basket off a pass from Ryan Doherty made it 46-39 for Chatham with 3:12 to go
COUGAR NOTES: The Cougars sank 10 straight free throws over the final 2:17 of the fourth quarter, two by Ryan Doherty, six straight by Jack Rooney and two by Mac Bredahl ... Senior forward Daniel Baker threw down a two-handed dunk for the second straight game ... Chatham held Justin Rodriguez of Morristown-Beard scoreless in the first half, but the guard score 16 points in the second half ... Gettysburg head coach George Petrie and his assistant made a recruiting visit to check out Rooney ... Chatham plays at Pope John on Tuesday.