RANDOLPH, NJ - On Saturday afternoon, the boys basketball teams of Morristown and Chatham are going to play for a spot in the Morris County Tournament final.
Next weekend, the girls teams of those schools are going to play for the title itself.
Morristown – the top seed and defending county championship – used a pair of extended runs to cruise past Jefferson, 45-30, in semifinal action at County College of Morris. Jimmy Pisciotto’s Colonials, still unblemished against in-county competition this year, are now 18-2 and will face third-seeded Chatham for all the marbles next week.
Chatham – who took a 43-32 victory over Morris Catholic in the other semifinal – has already bowed to Morristown twice this season.
“I don’t think there are going to be any surprises next week,” said Morristown coach Jimmy Pisciotto, “We’ve been playing each other twice a year for a few seasons now, and all the players know each other. Kate (Kolb, Morristown’s center) and Veronica Kelly (Chatham’s center committed to Dartmouth,) should be a great matchup in the post.”
But to get there, the Colonials had to overcome a tough Jefferson team in their semifinal clash.
Trailing 8-6 after a sluggish opening period, Morristown unleashed a 10-0 spurt in the second quarter to take a 22-13 lead at the half. In that span, standout senior guard Elizabeth Strambi – who led the victorious Colonials with 17 points on the night – drilled a pair of three-balls from the left wing in that stretch.
The Falcons would start the third on an 8-0 run, but Morristown would respond with a back-breaking 11-0 tangent of their own to close out the period, and for all intents and purposes, the game.
Sophomore Tara O’Neill hit a pair of massive three’s to build the Colonials lead to 33-21 after three.
“You look at this game in the bigger picture, and Tara didn’t have a great night. But when it comes to hitting big shots when you need them, those were huge three’s that we had to have,” explained Pisciotto. “Those are the kinds of timely shots you need to advance in a county tournament.”
Kolb – a mismatch in the post that Jefferson was unable to matchup with all night – scored all 16 of her points, including six in the final quarter, all on layups off the glass to give Morristown a huge scoring boost.
Jefferson – now 17-5 on the season – would pull no closer than nine in the final period.
The Colonials will now be gunning for their fifth ever county title. The locals three-peated as MCT champions in 1978, 1979, and 1980, before snapping a 37 year title drought last winter.
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