ROXBURY, NJ – The Roxbury High School boys basketball team’s dream of winning the state tournament ended Monday when it was defeated 61-58 by Chatham in first-round competition.
Roxbury (18-7) held a seven-point lead with 1:30 left in the fourth quarter and had a seemingly safe 49-45 lead with seven seconds showing. But Chatham sophomore Cam Rooney pushed the ball downcourt as fast as he could and let fly with an awkward shot that banked in as he was fouled in front of the Chatham bench.
It was one of the most incredible shots of his high school career, but Rooney had no time to celebrate it; he still needed to collect himself and make the bonus free throw, with two seconds left in regulation, to complete a rare four-point play that would tie the game and force overtime against Roxbury.
Rooney's four-point play - a 3-pointer that banked in and a foul shot - tied the game at 49-49. He followed that with an encore in his 26-point performance, dropping in a 3-pointer at the buzzer in overtime and culminating an improbable victory in the opening round of the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 state tournament.
Roxbury was seeded seventh in the standings and Chatham was seeded 10th.
"I don't know how to explain it," Rooney said. "As soon it left my hand, I felt there was a chance and it banked in. I couldn't really celebrate because I had to make the free throw. I just told myself I'm going to make this. I've never made a four-point play before."
The Cougars led 58-57 before a Gaels free throw tied the game at 58-58 with 30 seconds to go. Chatham held for the last shot with Rooney taking his winning shot off a high screen.
During the game, Roxbury’s Kyle Haegele racked up 30 points and Trevor Napoliello added 12.
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