Vicarisi, O’Donnell Help Defending Champion Mendham Soar

Mountain Lakes’ Tim LaBeau and Mendham’s Colin O’Donnell battle for the ball in Saturday’s MCT contest.

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountyvarsityboysbasketball

Colin O’Donnell has been a perimeter standout for the Mendham basketball team this year. On Saturday he showed that he’s not afraid to take it to the glass too.

The senior guard scored 17 points including 11 in a crucial third-quarter effort to help defending champion Mendham to a 58-51 triumph over Mountain Lakes in Morris County Tournament quarterfinal action at Randolph High School.

Senior forward Tore Vicarisi led Mendham with 20 points and Drew Jacobs added 14 for the third-seeded Minutemen (14-4). Mendham plays sister school rival West Morris on Saturday in the semifinal round. Delbarton and Roxbury are the other two semifinalists.

“We’ve been looking forward to this all year,’’ O’Donnell said. “This is what we play for. We had to win this, we knew it and we stepped it up.’’

Greg Cuccinello scored 15 points and Tim LaBeau added 12 for Mountain Lakes (14-4). The 11th-seeded Lakers were a scrappy bunch that always kept the Minutemen in sight but fell behind by as much as 12 points with two minutes left and mounted a threat too late.

One reason was the play of O’Donnell, when the Lakers defended him on the perimeter; he found ways to push to the basket for scoring opportunities.

“Coach (Jim Baglin) told me I had to play harder at halftime,’’ O’Donnell said. “He told me to take it to the hoop and I just started taking it to the hoop.’’

Defensively, the Minutemen focused on Lakers standouts point guard Jimmy Boyhan and their most consistent scorer Ethan Lubowitz. Lubowitz, a junior forward, was held to seven points and was scoreless in the second half.

“Kyle Dennis did and incredible job on Lubowitz,’’ Vicarisi said. “He really, really busted his butt today. When he locks it down, nobody is going to score on him.’’

Mendham’s Kyle Dennis goes up for a block in Saturday’s MCT win.

Boyhan was in a spirited battle with Mendham guard Andrew Jacobs throughout the contest.

“We knew we had to stop them,’’ O’Donnell said. “A couple of other kids stepped up and hit some shots for them but I think we did a great job on their two main guys.’’

The first half was close.  Mountain Lakes took a 13-10 first quarter lead. The Minutemen led by as much as five points midway through the second quarter but a LaBeau 3-point play tied the game at 21 at the half. There were three ties and four lead changes in the third quarter. O’Donnell provided much of the Mendham offense.

“In the third quarter, Colin just took over,’’ Vicarisi said. “Every time we needed a bucket, he either got an and-1 or a clutch layup and he fired the rest of us up.’’

It was late in the third quarter that the Minutemen started to take control. They went on an 8-3 run with O’Donnell and Vicarisi splitting four points apiece during the spree to take a 37-32 edge at the end of the period.

The Minutemen would add eight consecutive points to start the fourth quarter. Vicarisi and Kyle Dennis each hit layups and O’Donnell was fouled on consecutive scoring attempts. He hit four free throws to make it 45-32 at about the four-minute mark of the final period.

Although the Lakers knocked down some shots in the final minute, time would run out on their efforts.

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About mcvbb

Mark Kitchin is a boys varsity basketball writer for the Morris County New Jersey area

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