RANDOLPH, NJ - When Randolph center Luke Nathan forcefully threw down a two-handed dunk with 3:52 left in the fourth quarter, the 6-10 senior didn't receive the reaction from the crowd that a play like that normally deserves.
Nathan's dunk only cut the Rams deficit to 25 points in what would turn out to be a 70-39 loss to Chatham in the semifinal round of the Morris County Tournament on Saturday at County College of Morris.
Randolph (16-6) will have to wait another year for its first-ever MCT championship.
No. 2 seed Randolph had defeated No. 3 Chatham, 50-42, in a regular-season game on Jan. 25, but this game turned out to be completely different.
"One difference is that we really shot the ball poorly," Randolph coach Matt Tighe said. "There wasn’t one aspect of the game plan that we came in with that we did. To give up 70 points to a team that scores in the 40s was a horrible job by the coaches. Offensively we were weak and defensively we were worse. There was not one aspect of the game tonight that I could say I was happy with."
Nathan finished with 16 points to lead the Rams, but he didn't get much support on the scoring end, with Justin Polesuk's eight points as the next highest point producer for Randolph.
Chatham bolted out to an 11-0 lead and the Cougars kept expanding that advantage as the game progressed. Mac Bredahl scored 18 points and Jack Rooney hit for 14 as Chatham had four players hit for double digits in scoring.
"I probably get more tired of looking at Chatham than they do," Tighe said. "It’s different players every year. Everyone knows Rooney and Mac are the two guys. I’ve watched four or five games and there were guys hitting jump shots that I haven’t seen make a shot all year who made three threes between them. So you have to give those kids credit for stepping up. It’s ultimately what it boils down to. Their kids step up and make plays. That’s probably the biggest difference in the game."
A 26-11 run in the third period pretty much wrapped up the game for Chatham, making it a 52-26 bulge heading into the fourth quarter.
"I can’t fault our effort tonight," Tighe said. "We did some things out of character, but they were excited to play."