RANDOLPH, NJ –Morristown and Morristown-Beard (known as Morristown Prep until the early 1970s) have met on the basketball court on and off the court since way back in 1912.
But none of the previous twenty-eight dances have had as much on the line as there was Saturday night at County College of Morris: a trip to the Morris County Tournament final on the line.
And given the way the game ended, perhaps the series has seen none a more spectacular finish. On one side, the Crimson truly in clover with all the fortunes the basketball gods could seemly conjure up on their side, and unfortunately another dice roll gone snake-eyes type loss for the Colonials on the CCM floor.
With a defender in his face, Beard’s Ralphie Castillo came up cash on a foul-line jumper in the dying seconds of the game to put the top-seeded Crimson over the top indeed—a truly miraculous finish given that the Colonials had a three-point lead with 22 seconds left—with a dramatic 52-51 victory in MCT semifinal action.
The 21-3 Crimson will play for its first ever county crown vs. Chatham—a 70-39 winner over Randolph in the first semifinal—next Saturday, while Morristown’s title drought will extend to a 16th year.
“I feel for our seniors tonight,” said Morristown coach Bill Connolly, “they poured their heart and soul into this game and to this program. It’s sad that we have so little time left as a group with (states starting next week.)
In a one-and-one situation, Kevin Hoehn calmly sank two free throws to put the fourth-seeded Colonials up 51-48 with twenty-two ticks on the clock. With Morristown (16-7) looking to avoid giving up a tying three-ball, star Mo-Beard guard Bran Monaghan went straight to the hoop and finished off a layup to cut it to 51-50.
The Crimson quickly fouled, and Morristown missed the front end of a one-and-one to give the winners possession once again. The Morristown-Beard bench felt a Crimson player had been fouled going around a screen with about six seconds left, but upon getting no call from the officials, they took a time out with 4.7 seconds remaining, setting up Castillo’s winner.
After Morristown got out to a quick 7-0 start, Mo-Beard would control the game for the next three or so quarters. After the Crimson went up 11-10 at the end of a quarter, Morristown would not tie the game up again until Jason Blanco’s put back layup tied things up at 42 early in the fourth quarter.
A Monaghan score off a drive put the Crimson up 46-42 with 4:02 to play. However, two clutch Blanco free throws put Morristown back up 49-46 with 1:20 remaining, but the lead would not hold.