MORRISTOWN, NJ - With guards like Kevin Hoehn and Luke Haralampoudis in the backcourt, it’s easy for anyone to see how explosive the Morristown boys basketball team can be.
But against Morris Hills on Tuesday night, the Colonials showed a totally different way they can dominate a game: clamping down their defense.
Holding the visiting Scarlet Knights to just 10 points in the opening half, Morristown cruised to a 43-29 victory in NJAC crossover action on their home court, moving to 8-2 on the season. The winners led 43-19 at the end of three periods when all starters were pulled from action, and the Hills reserves outscored Morristown’s bench 10-0 in the fourth to make the final margin a deceivingly close 14 points.
Since they first met on the hardwood in 1953-54—Morris Hills’ first year in existence—Morristown now leads the all-time series by a 43-22 margin. The teams played twice a year in the old Jersey Hills conference from 1956 until 1977.
“I think through three quarters there, I think we were sound defensively and I think our guys deserve a lot of credit for their effort,” said Morristown coach Bill Connolly, whose squad forced more turnovers—eleven—than points it allowed—ten—in the opening half.
Hoehn had six points in the opening quarter to get the ball rolling for Morristown, who hopped out to a 14-4 advantage after one. Jason Blanco contributed with an interior assist to Hoehn and a put-back layup in the frame as well.
An up-and-under lay-up, a drive from the top of the key, and a pull-up jumper all came from Haralampoudis (8 points) in the second period, as Morristown extended its advantage to 28-10 at the half. Hoehn—who led all scorers with 20 points—and Haralampoudis divided all the points nearly evenly in the period.
“(Morris Hills) guarded us in a few different ways, including man and in zone, and I thought our ability to attack it was effective for us tonight,” said Connolly.
One common way Morristown picked apart the Scarlet Knights defense was Hoehn and Haralampoudis penetrating the lane to free up lay-ups for themselves and Blanco on the blocks.
With 4:49 remaining in the third, Hoehn drove to the hoop, went behind the back with the left hand, and finished off a beautiful play with a right handed layup to extend the lead to 41-14.
Andrew Behrendt led Morris Hills with 10 points on the evening, while Morristown will travel to Mendham for a NJAC-United clash on Friday evening.