RANDOLPH, NJ- The Randolph boys basketball team is three quarters of the way to completing their pre-season goal of winning the schools’ first ever Morris County Championship, after defeating Morris Catholic in the semifinals by a score of 75-57.
“I thought the guys played their hearts out. We wanted to go in and out work Morris Catholic, and I think we did it. The kids played with so much passion,” said Rams coach Matt Tighe.
The third seeded Crusaders, who came in averaging 76 points per game, could only muster up 57 against the second seeded Rams swarming defense.
Junior center Luke Nathan, who finished with 16 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks, stated, “Our number one priority ever game is defense and we knew we had to be on our “A” game tonight. We made sure we were talking, finding shooters in transition, and giving great help defense.”
After Morris Catholic grabbed the first 4 points of the game, the Rams ran out to a 23-10 lead and never looked back.
Contributing to that run was the play of senior forward Andrew Sciancalepore, who for the second game in a row came off the bench to provide his team a spark. Upon entering the game, Sciancalepore put up 8 first half points, and played strong defense on Crusaders star (from Randolph) Amir Allen.
When asked about Allen, a 6”7’ top NJ college recruit who averages 23 points and 13 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game, Sciancalepore stated, “We tried to out-muscle him as much as possible. He had a very good game, but we certainly did enough to limit his success and win the game.”
The Rams versatility and athleticism were too much for the Crusaders to handle all over the court. That versatility showed in particular in the middle, where they threw many different bodies at Allen all game long.
Coach Tighe added, “We decided that we would be very physical with him and rather put him on the foul line rather than give him easy buckets, hoping to wear him down. Our Captain Mike Sasso gave up about 5 inches and did a heck of a job battling with him as well as Sciancalpore and Zak Durbin.”
The Crusaders cut into the lead, and trailed by 9 at half, only to see the Rams open it back up to 14 at the end of three quarters. Entering the fourth, the Rams held a 50-36 lead, and had kept Allen in check with 13 points.
Then it was Sciancalepore time again, as the senior ran off six fast points to help the Rams blow their lead up to 20.
When asked about his big game, finishing with 16 points, Sciancalepore said, “We all play and build off of each other. We don't just have one key player on our team, we have about 9 or 10 guys that can all have big games.”
From there, it was desperation time for Morris Catholic. Allen came alive, scoring 14 in the fourth, mostly from the foul line, while helping lead his team back to within 12. But it was too late, and as the clock wound down, the Crusaders were forced to foul. Julian Boykins made them pay for that, going 8-for-8 from the foul line down the stretch, helping push the final count to 75-57.
Ramd Captain Mike Sasso stated, “Before the game, I told the team that this moment is what we all worked so hard for, and the only way we could do it was to play together as a family. We did that tonight.”
Tighe added, “We had eight guys score tonight so it’s hard to point out just one standout, but Julian Boykins went 10-10 from the foul line and finished with 19 and Ryan Maughan handled the ball with pressure all game, I was pleased with his toughness.”
Nathan finished by stating, “Before the game the coaches made sure that we would be ready right from the tip. They reminded us how it was our goal from the beginning of the year to bring home Randolph's first ever county championship, and winning tonight was one more step in the right direction.”
The Rams Play #1 Seed Chatham in the finals, next Saturday Feb. 27 at CCM