MORRISTOWN, NJ – With only two seniors in its rotation, the Morristown boys basketball team’s unexpected run to the Morris County Tournament semifinals has been an invaluable learning experience for head coach Bill Connolly’s younger Colonials side.
But against Chatham – specifically its backcourt duo of Jack Rooney and Mac Bredahl that has played many a big game on the CCM court – experience ruled the day.
The top-seeded and two-time defending champion Cougars never trailed in the second game of Saturday’s semifinal doubleheader, as they overpowered the Colonials, 61-33. Chatham will face Delbarton – a 52-50 winner over Randolph in the earlier game – in next Saturday’s championship game.
“Those two guards they have are as good as any that play in Morris County,” Colonials coach Bill Connolly. “Rooney just became their all-time leading scorer and Bredahl was chosen to play in the North-South game. And they both played extremely well tonight.”
That they did, and right from the onset, too.
Rooney followed a step-back mid-range jumper with a fadeaway three-ball from the left corner in sparking Chatham to an early 11-4 lead midway through the first. Morristown’s points in that span came on two Ray Mundrick free throws and a 12-footer from Steve Leung, but Chatham would still hold a 15-8 lead after one.
The Cougars really created separation in the second quarter, as they outscored Morristown 13 to 3 to move ahead 28-11 at the half. Steve Bergeman, who finished with six for the Colonials, had the lone points of the quarter with his left-wing triple at the 5:20 mark of the quarter. Four different Cougars – including five from the athletic and shifty Bredahl – dropped in buckets during the run.
After a traditional three-point play by Mundrick cut the Chatham lead to 33-19 at the 4:46 mark of the third, the Cougars went on a 14-0 spree to really put the game to rest entering the final quarter. Chatham forward Andrew Bergman scored seven of his 13 points during that stretch.
Morristown would stop the bleeding with 48 seconds remaining in the period, when Leung sunk a three from the left wing, making it 47-22 Cougars after three.
Duncan Wild would accumulate half of his six points in the fourth quarter, as Chatham began to wind the clock down with extended possessions. With three minutes remaining, both sides emptied their benches in favor of a slew of reserves.
Morristown senior Declan Doherty drilled a three with 15 seconds left to close out the scoring.
With a younger nucleus returning next winter, Morristown’s experience in this year’s MCT semifinals will be a building block going forward.
“There are 26 teams in this county, and only four of them get to play at the county college every year,” Connolly said. “It is not easy and you have to earn your place here. Nothing is guaranteed (moving forward), but I do think this run was deserved and earned by our guys.”
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