Expect a Battle Between Delbarton and Roxbury

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountyvarsityboysbasketball

The Roxbury boys basketball team is one step away from getting to a Morris County Tournament final for the first time in school history. However, the last step is a big one.

Eighth-seeded Roxbury plays fourth-seeded Delbarton in the semifinal round on Saturday at the County College of Morris in Randolph. The game follows an earlier semifinal battle between 10th-seeded West Morris and third-seeded and defending champion Mendham. Approximate time would be close to 7 p.m.

Last year, Delbarton went to double overtime before losing to Mendham. The Green Wave wants to make amends in this year’s title game no matter who they play. Either way both teams have something to gain with a victory.

The Green Wave and the Gaels are both members of the NJAC-National conference and have split the season series. On January 6, Delbarton was victorious with a 65-53 triumph. Dean Brierley had 20 points and Scott Curran had 16 in the contest that was held in Roxbury.

On February 3, the Gaels avenged their loss with a 38-36 triumph. Roxbury’s Angelo Mangiro scored 12 points in the defensive battle played at the Delbarton School.

A low scoring game would probably benefit the Gaels. When you talk about Roxbury, the conversation has to start with Mangiro. His 6-foot-4 frame carries up to 270-pounds well. He is physically strong but also very agile. He has soft hands and his ability to draw defenders and pass from the high post often generates offense. His size is also a plus on the box out while rebounding and fills driving lanes on defense.

Down low he can kick the ball out to Steve Giordano and Shaun O’Donnell for threes. Giordano is the point guard and a strong ballhandler. If the Gaels chose to be deliberate, he sets the tempo. O’Donnell is a forward who can slash to the basket or pull up for short jumpers. He can also rebound along with Ike Iloh. Iloh is an athletic rebounder who can get layups and putbacks down low. Ryan Kelly and Kevin Bischoff also add some occasional points and good defense from the guard spot.

Ryan Roumes is an athlete whose accomplishments cannot be found in the box score but are tangible assets to any team. He does a lot of the grunt work, takes charges, dives for loose balls and is a main part of the emotional core of the team. When he can put in a shot, it gives the Gaels an emotional lift. If Mangiro or Iloh need a break or the Gaels want to go big, Andrew Volpe has made terrific contributions off the bench with both points, putbacks and defense.

The Gaels have played primarily tough, physical man-to-man defense for years. This year they have tinkered with zones and have had some success with the 2-3 zone defense because of their size.

Dan Whalen and his Delbarton players get ready to roll. The Green Wave faces Roxbury on Saturday.

If Roxbury catches Delbarton on a night when they struggle with their shots, it could be quite a battle. The Green Wave hasn’t shot well lately but their defense has gotten better and better with each game making those offensive flaws more negligible. Delbarton is also the deepest team of the four semifinalists and with each game it is finding out more and more about its athletes.

Everyone knows about Dean Brierley. Delbarton’s senior forward is having another outstanding season. He is the Green Wave workhorse. He finds ways to score even when he is double and triple-teamed. He also grabs his share of rebounds and can block a shot. He averages more than 20 points a game and rarely gets shut down.

After him, the offense loses its consistency a little bit. Point guard Wade Morgan is lightning quick. Sometimes he can hit threes, sometimes he can connect on drives to the hoop. When Scott Curran is on, he can also knock down shots from the perimeter. Kevin Dunleavy has an unusual skill set. He can knock down jump shots from long range and bring a lot of energy off the bench but is also great at stepping into the lane and drawing charges.

Rob Thoma has been starting lately at center. The 6-foot-3 sophomore gets rebounds and will put a body on Mangiro. So will 6-foot-4 Dom Rizzo. John Barney is a defensive-minded guard who has good court vision and contributes what he can. Senior forward Doug Jadis and junior John Ramirez have been seeing time, too.

Because the Green Wave has numbers off the bench, they are not afraid to trap and press full court if they want to change the tempo or find a situation they can exploit. Tempo can be important and fresh legs can make a big difference especially in the fourth quarter on the wide floor at CCM.

So can the foul situation. Mangiro is so important to the Gaels chances and big guys are often scrutinized a little tougher. The longer he stays in the game and is affective the better the Gaels chances are of succeeding.

Roxbury’s Jon Deeb and Delbarton’s Dan Whalen are seasoned varsity coaches who know their teams well and will do anything they can to get their teams up both mentally and emotionally. The winner of this game will go through a physical battle and emerge better because of it.

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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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