CHATHAM, NJ - It was the kind of game where the fans were almost as exhausted as the players when it was over.
But no one seemed more spent after this one than Chatham senior guard Jack Rooney, who took a few minutes to sit back on the bleachers and catch his breath after the Cougars outlasted Randolph, 70-65, in a basketball game that stretched through four overtime periods at Chatham High.
Rooney scored eight of his 14 points in the extra sessions, including two free throws with 18.2 seconds left in the fourth OT to help seal it.
On Sunday, two-time defending champion Chatham (13-3) and Randolph (10-3) were selected as the top two seeds for the Morris County Tournament. If No. 1 Chatham and the second-seeded Rams manage to reach the MCT final next month, it will be hard to match the 48-minutes of basketball that took two hours and twenty minutes to complete on Wednesday.
Chatham appeared to be headed the win in regulation when Mac Bredahl sank two free throws with 50 seconds left in the fourth period to give the Cougars a 47-42 lead. But Randolph took advantage of some missed free throws by the Cougars to tie the game, 48-48, on two free throws by Rams captain Pat Kelly with 15 seconds to go.
In the first overtime, Dan Baker's three points gave Chatham a 51-48 edge, before the Rams Andrew Fusco's drilled a 3-pointer to tie it at 51-51. It took a big block in the final seconds of the first OT by Cougar sophomore E.J. Leskauskas to keep it tied and force the second OT.
Neither team scored in the second four-minute overtime period. In the third extra session the Rams appeared to be in control when Kelly's two foul shots with 11.8 seconds showing gave the visitors a 59-56 lead. That's when Chris Conlin stepped up to hit the shot of the game a 3-pointer with four seconds left that forced the fourth overtime.
In the fourth overtime, Andrew Fusco scored to give the Rams a 61-59 edge before Rooney hit a jumper and Andrew Bergman followed with two free throws.
After Bergman's two foul shots, Rooney went to the line and hit one free throw, but he missed the second. Bergman kept the missed second shot alive on the boards and Rooney hustled to regain possession. That led to two clutch free throws by Ryan Doherty for a 66-61 advantage with 37 seconds to go. Dohery and Rooney closed it out with two more free throws apiece.
The Rams leading scorer Mario Haklaj put up 18 points in the game, but was not able to help his teammates seal the game as he fouled out in regulation. Kelly finished with 15 points and Fusco with 14 to pace the Rams.