A tall order for Morris Catholic

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountyvarsityboysbasketball

Morris Catholic Season Review

The start of the season wasn’t too great for the Morris Catholic. The end of the season was pretty rough, too. But in between the Crusaders gave their fans some reasons to smile and those surprises made the team’s 10-13 record worthwhile.

“Early in the season we got blown out of some games,’’ Morris Catholic coach John Paul Duphiney said. “We were playing man-to-man defense and decided to switch to zone. We ended up beating DePaul with it.’’

Near the end of the season, the Crusaders are always stuck with battling in the Non-Public B section of the state tournament which ends up with an inevitable loss against either St. Anthony of Jersey City or St. Patrick. Morris Catholic always takes that in stride, too.

“For the most part, the kids enjoyed playing the game,’’ Duphiney said. “They don’t mind playing against kids who are going to end up playing big time basketball. It wasn’t bad.’’

Senior leadership: Robbie Drexel provided plenty of scoring for Morris Catholic. His season high was 23 points in a win against Parsippany Hills. Steve Fisher averaged six rebounds and four assists a game along with sinking a bucket or two. He was asked to do a variety of things and did them brilliantly. Anibal Villa-Hernandez missed some time to injury early in the season but found his shooting stroke in the second half.

Highlights: They were scattered. The win against DePaul came from out of nowhere, especially since Morris Catholic lost its first three games by an average of 15 points or more. The road win against Parsippany High in the prelims of the Morris County Tournament was a pleasant surprise for the 18th-seeded team. Maybe the biggest lift came late in the year when the Crusaders bested Hopatcong on a late score by Dylan Gallagher.

“There was a lot going on,’’ Duphiney said. “It was senior night and Matt Tobin needed 31 to set the Sussex scoring record. We didn’t want him to get off and he didn’t.’’

Hope for the Future:  Duphiney has some players that he can look up to next season – literally.

“We’ve always been small,’’ Duphiney said. “Now we might be able to mix up our offense a little more.’’

Underclassmen Paul Shapiro, C.J. Drury and Dan Jacone all stand at 6-foot-2 or better and may grow a little bit more. One player he doesn’t expect to grow too much is Darius Osario-Vega, but that’s okay. The 5-foot-8 guard is Morris Catholic’s top perimeter threat. He hit nearly three 3-pointers a game and had a season high of six in one contest.

Offseason plans: The Crusaders hope to have teams in the FDU-Florham and Hopatcong Summer Leagues. Duphiney also seriously emphasizes open gyms and individual work. He does a lot of coaching on the AAU level. “It’s in those hot and sweaty gyms away from the crowds where a lot of the real improvement is made,’’ Duphiney said.

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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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