CHATHAM, NJ - When the Chatham boys basketball team is getting good looks at the basket, they can be a tough team to handle.
That was evident on Friday night when the Cougars connected early and ran away from Somerville, 78-52, in the final game of the Cougar Classic.
The Cougars hit their first six shots of the game from the floor and also sank all four of their free throws in the opening period to grab a 26-14 lead.
"We definitely shot the ball better tonight," Chatham senior guard Mac Bredahl said. "That's a talented team that we beat. It's a good win and to defeat them pretty handily is nice. It gives us confidence after a tough loss to New Providence (Wednesday)."
Bredahl led the way with 21 points and backcourt mate Jack Rooney dropped in 17 points to pace Chatham (5-2), which received nine points from Andrew Bergman, and eight apiece from Ryan Doherty and E.J. Leskauskas.
Chatham scored the first nine points of the third quarter to build a 43-23 lead. Doherty drove the baseline and scored as he was fouled. He sank the bonus free throw and Dan Baker scored inside off a pass from Chris Conlin, who had received an over-the-shoulder pass from Rooney (see below).
Doherty then made a foul shot before capping the run when he received a pass from Bredahl and dropped in a 3-pointer from the right corner (see below).
After Chris Elwood scored for Somerville (2-5), Bredahl continued the burst for Chatham with a baseline jumper and Rooney followed with a steal that he turned into a layup for a 47-25 lead with 4:06 left in the third.
"Again, our emphasis on offense is to get everyone involved and find the great shots," Bredahl said. "We're going to get good shots, but we want to find the great shots, easy threes and easy layups. That worked out for us tonight. We were able to make the shots we should and we held them to 52 points, which isn't great, but it was enough tonight."
Sophomore forward Leskauskas came through with three straight baskets for Chatham late in the third quarter and Bredahl capped the big quarter when he nailed a 3-pointer with just 0.3 seconds showing on the clock as he was fouled. He sank the bonus free throw for a four-point play and a 57-36 lead.
E.J. Leskauskas scored six of his eight points in the third quarter for the Cougars
In the fourth quarter, Rooney hit his third 3-pointer of the game, Bredahl scored off a Leskauskas return pass and Bredahl drove to drop in a one-hander, staking the Cougars to a 69-42 advantage with 4:25 to play. Seconds later, Chatham coach Todd Ervin emptied his bench.
COUGAR NOTES: The Cougars hit their first six shots of the game and connected on nine of 12 attempts in the opening period when they moved to a 26-14 lead. ... Chatham also hit nine of 12 shots in the third quarter, equaling the 26 points scored by the Cougars in the first period ... Chatham plays next 7 p.m. Wednesday at Morristown.