Morristown-Beard survives late ML rally to stay unbeaten

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountyvarsityboysbasketball

MOUNTAINLAKES– Morristown-Beard coach Eddie Franz was exasperated after his team’s victory while Mountain Lakes coach John ByDook was quietly encouraged after his team’s loss. Close games are liable to generate mixed emotions especially with a growing rivalry like the one the Crimson and the Lakers have going.

Senior forward Brian Bartner scored 22 points and Chris Jenkins popped in 18 to lift Morristown-Beard to a 75-68 victory over its NJAC-Liberty Division rivals Mountain Lakes on Tuesday. Tyler Terens added 12 points including four free throws in the final 35 seconds to help the Crimson remain unbeaten (6-0).

Mountain Lakes rallied from an 18-point deficit with less than three minutes left in regulation to make the game interesting. Chris Herring scored 15 points on five 3-pointers for the Lakers (4-2). Chris Robertson scored 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter and Ethan Lubowitz and Max Boerstoel each chipped in with 13 points.

A rainbow 3-point shot by Herring from well beyond the arc with 9.6 seconds left in regulation made it a 73-68 game but Terens knocked down a pair of free throws at the eight-second mark and Mountain Lakes did not make another shot.

Mountain Lakes’ Max Boerstoel goes up for a shot during the first half of Tuesday’s contest against Morristown-Beard.

Despite the win, Franz was disappointed in his team’s performance both early and late in the contest. The Lakers were 4 for 9 beyond the arc in the fourth quarter and are known for good perimeter play. They also earned plenty of second-chance scoring opportunities because the Lakers were getting to the long rebounds on misses before the Crimson did.

“We mismanaged the beginning of the game and we mismanaged the end of the game,’’ Franz said. “I told the kids sometimes I just think they just want to stand around and watch Chris (Jenkins) play. … On some sequences (MountainLakes) completely outworked us and they knocked down open threes – which we knew they could make.’’

The Lakers, many of them returnees from the team that was swept by the Crimson and barely missed out on at least a share of the division title last year, are a determined bunch. ByDook likes their fortitude as well as their ability.

“I’m not happy with the loss but I’m happy with our heart,’’ ByDook said. “This is the best team I think I’ve had since I’ve been here because we shoot the ball better. The problem is inexperience and the speed sometimes. (Morristown-Beard) took it up another notch and we didn’t handle it as well as we should have.’’

Morristown-Beard’s Chris Jenkins slices between Mountain Lakes defenders Chris Robertson (15) and Ethan Lubowitz (30) during Tuesday’s game.

Mountain Lakes got off to the better start and led 13-11 after the first quarter and 33-28 at the half. The play of Morristown-Beard guards Malik Valentine and Terens in the third quarter helped the Crimson to a 26-15 third-quarter effort which gave them a 54-48 lead going into the final period.  

The ability of Terens and Valentine to create double teams in the halfcourt and force turnovers sparked a 10-0 run midway through the period to give Morristown-Beard a 45-41 lead with 2:24 left in the third quarter.

Valentine is a perfect change-of-pace guard. Small and quick, he gets in the way of less experienced ballhandlers and harasses opposing players with his fast hands and intensity.

“What changed the game really was (Valentine’s) energy and us turning the ball over,’’ ByDook said.

Terens also has quickness, he knows how to play lanes and he anticipates passes well.

“We picked up the defense a lot and we started communicating more,’’ Valentine said. “On the offensive half we started running the plays right. When we see opportunities we jump to it. When it’s out there we gamble a lot and it pays off.’’

Morristown Beard’s Tyler Terens pressures Mountain Lakes’ Chris Robertson as plenty of white-shirted Lakers fans look on.

A 5-0 run with the help of a 3-point play on a steal and a layup by Terens and another pair of free throws by the Crimson guard helped give them a 54-48 lead going into the final period.

Morristown-Beard looked to be in command with a 14-2 run to start the fourth quarter. When Tyler Braslow knocked a pair of free throws at about the 2:30 mark the score was 68-50. However, no lead is safe against Mountain Lakesbecause of its determination and long range marksmanship. With the help of some full-court pressure, the Lakers forced three consecutive turnovers which led to eight consecutive points including threes by Herring and Robertson.

A Bartner layup, with about 1:30 left, stopped the Lakers momentum and made it 70-58 but it would the last field goal of the day for the Crimson. Mountain Lakes went on a 7-1 run which included a Robertson three-pointer and a layup he hit with 38 seconds left to make it a 71-65 game.

However, Terens stopped the run with a pair of free throws with 38 seconds left to stretch the lead to eight. The Lakers had three opportunities to knock down a three. The first two missed the mark but third one by Herring would cut the deficit to 75-68 but it took up too much time. Mountain Lakes was forced to foul Terens on the next inbounds and he hit both free throw opportunities to cement the win.

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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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