Whippany Park hoops is just scratching the surface

By Mark Kitchin


HANOVER TWP. – Athletes often don’t truly know their own strength until they are put to the test. The Whippany Park boys basketball team may be like that this year. A young team just beginning to learn how to play together, they may have just scratched the surface of what they can accomplish.  

After a lackluster first half, it took a third-quarter burst of defense to for Whippany Park to earn a 59-48 triumph over Kinnelon on Tuesday.

Andrew Holleran scored 24 points and Jake Waddon added 18 points for Whippany Park (2-0), which pulled away with a 19-6 third-quarter effort.

R.J. Gianetti scored 12 points and Sean Walsh scored 10 points for Kinnelon which dropped to 1-1. The Colts were opportunistic in the first half and pushed the tempo on the Wildcats. Whippany Park led 26-24 at the half, but the players knew there was something wrong and at halftime set out to change it.

Whippany Park’s Jake Waddon and Kinnelon’s Evan Argirou scramble for the ball during Tuesday’s contest.

“We were talking at halftime to get our defense together,’’ Whippany Park coach Jeff Kleinbaum said. “It was not just on-the-ball defense. It was off-the-ball defense. We weren’t boxing out. They just kept getting to the ball.’’

The Wildcats got it together and took control in the third quarter.

“I thought once we started rebounding and Jake started hitting shots we could do it,’’ Holleran said. “We just pulled away a little bit.’’

Whippany Park had to get control around the boards especially since Colts’ Gianetti was causing problems. The Kinnelon forward attacked the basket, keeping the ball active on the offensive end and grabbing rebounds and ending Wildcats possessions on the defense.

“He works hard,’’ Holleran said of Gianetti. “Once we boxed out better, we were able to control it a little bit. I think he got into foul trouble too. Once he was out there was nobody else.’’

Kinnelon’s R.J. Gianetti (44) made it difficult for Whippany Park around the boards.

The Wildcats are much improved from last year. One reason is the return of Tyler Raff. The senior guard left last year’s team mid-season when his family decided to send him to the boarding school inMaine.

He returned this fall and had an outstanding soccer season in which he was named Player of the Year in Morris County. The four-year varsity player also kept working on his basketball skills. His teammates were pleased with his return.

“We will always welcome Tyler back,’’ Holleran said. “He’s another scorer. He’s another guy that can definitely knock down the jumper.’’

However, this year Raff doesn’t need to score to help the Wildcats. Along with Holleran and Waddon, Kenny Jones, a player with size, added 12 points including six on fourth-quarter free throws. Raff only had two points on Tuesday.

“There is an adjustment,’’ Kleinbaum said. “You can see he’s scrambling but he was doing a little better. Today A. J. was scoring a little better. Tylermakes people spread out and play us differently.’’

Holleran and Waddon are a year older and much stronger and more confident players, there’s no pressure on Raff to shoot as much as last year and he knows it. As in soccer –when he was moved from the midfield into a scoring role and ended up fourth in the state in scoring — he is just as happy unselfishly supporting others as he is taking the spotlight.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to win,’’ Raff said. “I’ll do whatever we need.’’

Kinnelon’s John Mamary is swamped by several Whippany Park defenders in Tuesday’s game.

The game dictated scoring especially in the third quarter.Whippany Park pressured Kinnelon guards into turnovers. When Kinnelon got shots off, the Wildcats did a much better job on the boards making sure they didn’t have second-chance opportunities.

A 14-3 run midway through the third quarter helped Whippany Park build up a 44-30 edge near the end of the period. Waddon scored 8 of 10 third-quarter points during the run.

Tyler Raff’s return has given the Whippany Park Wildcats a big boost.

“I think Jake is going to be a good player because he’s wiry and strong,’’ Kleinbaum said. “I think he’s going to help us a lot.’’

Holleran and Waddon scored layups off steals to give the Wildcats a double-digit lead.

WhippanyPark secured the victory in the fourth quarter by hitting 11 of 12 free throws to maintain a double-digit advantage.


About mcvbb

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

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