MORRISTOWN, NJ- The 5th seeded Randolph Boys Junior Varsity basketball team competed in the finals of the Morris County JV tournament this weekend, where they took on the 3rd seeded Chatham Cougars. Randolph had advanced to the finals with wins over 12th seeded Morris Catholic, 4th seeded Hanover Park, and the #1 seed, Morris Hills.
The Morristown Beard School gymnasium was packed with fans, parents, and students from Randolph, making the neutral site feel like a home game. Feeding off the energy from the crowd, at the end of the first quarter, the Rams were even with Chatham a score of 11-11. However, in the second quarter they held Chatham to 8 points and took a 24-19 lead heading into the break.
During halftime, Rams coach Matt Hemmer emphasized the importance of winning the third quarter, as he had all season. Sensing the opportunity to put tremendous pressure on Chatham, the boys played hard, pushing their lead to 39-26 heading into the 4th.
Winning a championship is never easy and Chatham was not about to go quietly. The Cougars relentless full court pressure created difficulty for Randolph, and with less than a minute to go, they tied the game at 43.
Throughout the season, Randolph had its fair share of tightly contested games and drew from that experience to execute in the final minute. The Rams got the ball to freshman center Ahsan Huland-El, who converted a bucket with roughly 17 seconds left, giving the Rams a 45-43 lead.
Chatham advanced the ball to half court and quickly called a timeout with 12 seconds remaining. During the last huddle of the game, the team focused on one objective - getting one last stop. When the game resumed, the Rams defense would not allow Chatham to get to the hoop. Chatham found an open player from beyond the 3 point line who took the shot to win the championship. After the shot missed right, the Randolph bench stormed the court with excitement.
"We knew we were better than the 5th seed and winning it all proved it,” stated sophomore Mario Haklaj. “There is no better feeling than how I feel right now."
Sophomore Drew Brown agreed, "Being in the county tournament, representing Randolph High School, and bringing home the JV county championship was unbelievable. I've played with many of my teammates since elementary school, and that experience and teamwork was what contributed to our win."
Randolph’s Junior Varsity had defeated 3 of the top 4 seeds, finishing with a 17-6 record.
The Junior Varsity team consisted of:
Juniors - Arjun Kumar, Austin Narravane, Kahlil Santana
Sophomores - Chris Archer, Jack Bernard, Chandler Boykins, Drew Brown, Jack Eames, Andrew Fusco, Morgan Gleniewicz, Mario Haklaj, Patrick Kelly, Noah Limon, AJ Marrero
Freshman - Ahsan Huland El
Coaches – Matt Hemmer and Nick Lavender