RANDOLPH, NJ - With Mountain Lakes featuring one of the tallest frontcourts in the county, the Morristown boys basketball team was going to need a big effort from sophomore forward Ray Mundrick in Saturday afternoon’s Morris County Tournament quarterfinal.
The Colonials got the best performance of Mundrick’s career to date, and in the process punched a ticket to County College of Morris for next weekend’s semifinals.
Mundrick pumped in 21 points to help spur thirteen-seeded Morristown to a 50-35 victory over the twelfth- seeded Lakers at Randolph High School. The 9-12 Colonials will get a third crack at top-seeded Chatham, a 57-40 winner over Mendham in the nightcap, in next week’s semifinal round match-up at CCM.
Perhaps the most unexpected appearance of the bunch, this will be the fifth time in the last six years that Bill Connolly has guided Morristown to the county’s penultimate round. With the Colonials advancing, it is also the first time since the 2009 edition (Roxbury) that a team that missed out on state playoff qualification made a MCT semifinal.
Morristown is still in pursuit of its ninth county title in the modern (1970-) era and first since 2002.
“Our guys deserve the fun opportunity they are going to get by playing at CCM, and I’m very proud of this team,” Connolly said after the game. “To be able to play on this type of stage as we move later into February is a special thing.”
Mundrick – who had his previous career high with 16 against Par Hills on Thursday – played as large a role of anyone in getting Morristown there.
“It’s a team first thing, and I’m happy that we’re going to keep playing,” Mundrick said. “But for me, I was at the other end of the court when they pressed us, and I just had to finish off my lay-ups.”
Six of Mundrick’s points were at the back end of the press, and another four were from close range on put back layups.
“I think Ray did a great job for us in all phases of the game for us. Finishing at the back end of our press breaks, rebounding on both ends, and adding a few blocks. He was strong defensively too,” Connolly added.
Despite senior guard Steve Leung forced to the bench with foul trouble, Morristown changed the momentum of the game midway through the second quarter. Trailing 12-11, a pair of Steve Bergeman driving finishes would spark Morristown to a 21-12 half time lead and create separation.
Mountain Lakes would crawl to within 33-27 late in the third period, but back to back three-balls from Timmy Ganning – the second of which was from NBA distance – put Morristown back up 12 and the Lakers couldn’t cut the gap lower than nine the rest of the way.
“(Timmy) was also huge for us tonight with his shooting, hitting four three's,” Connolly said. “A few of those shots came in big moments, also.”