By Mark Kitchin
EAST HANOVER TWP. — Matt Geisser doesn’t mind being compared to his older brother Mike, as long as it means knocking down shots from beyond the arc the way his sibling used to do it.
Geisser, a sophomore, had his best varsity shooting day with a 23-point performance off the bench including five 3-point shots to help Hanover Park handle Roxbury 76-48 on Monday. Jimmy Sivolella also had 23 points and Matt Williams chipped in with 13 for the Hornets (8-5).
Roxbury fell to 4-11. Ryan Kelley scored 12 points and Malcolm Chavis added 10. Hanover Park took control in the second quarter. The Hornets outscored the Gaels 25-13 in the period to take a 38-27 halftime edge. Geisser knocked down three shots from behind the arc during the period to help the Hornets take control.
Hanover Park’s Matt Williams goes up for a first-quarter bucket in Monday’s win over Roxbury.
Hanover Park has gotten good perimeter scoring from Sivolella, Max Reynolds and several other players this year. It didn’t surprise the Hornets when Geisser knocked down a few but this kind of performance from the sophomore guard is another encouraging sign for the young, versatile team. If he can come anywhere close to the type of production Mike Geisser (who played from 2007-2010) provided, it would give the Hornets offense another valuable perimeter weapon.
“It’s a lot like having a clone,’’Hanover Park coach Todd Hartman said. “I’ve called him Mike five or six times already. The similarities are startling. He loves the corners. He has those long strides where he has a quicker first step than it looks like he should have. He has great length and like his brother he is a tireless worker.’’
Going into the contest there was nothing to hint that Geisser was going to have a special day. He scored 13 points in the second quarter and knocked down three shots behind the arc. In the fourth quarter, his teammates nearly jumped out of their seats after his final 3-point shot of the day. Geisser took a pass, dribbled to the top of the key and launched the ball toward the net. The ball banked hard off the backboard and into the basket
“I was open and I hit my shots,’’ Geisser said. “My brother was a good 3-pointer shooter and everyone expects me to do it. I follow after him. I don’t think there’s any pressure.
“I felt comfortable today. The first couple went in so I kept shooting. In practice we do a lot of shooting drills and we hold a lot of 3-point shooting contests.’’
Geisser and Reynolds are part of a core of sophomores that continue to improve on the varsity level and find ways to make practices competitive and chip in on game days
Hanover Park’s Jimmy Sivolella dribbles out of danger during Monday’s game.
“I think they have all grown up really fast,’’ Hartman said. “That’s been the key for us — those kids maturing. They are not just happy to be part of it anymore.
“They are all hard workers. They are all year-round basketball kids. They are all coachable. They know each other’s games inside out.’’
The most important thing about the Hornets in recent weeks is that they are finding out how to play together. They are determining how to mesh Sivolella’s shooting and Matt Williams’ rebounding and scoring and Brendan Rudolph’s fearless inside play. When they have been able to get their games in sync, the Hornets have been surprisingly efficient. They have six wins of 20 points or more.
“The biggest thing is having so many new parts,’’ Hartman said. “It took awhile for guys to adjust and sort of figure out their roles and it took awhile for me to sort it out.’’
The second quarter set the tone for Hanover Park which got big lifts on both offensive and defensive levels. Along with Geisser’s sharp shooting, Sivolella also knocked down a 3-point shot. The junior, who got plenty of varsity time his sophomore year, has been the team’s primary perimeter scorer and quiet leader.
“As a sophomore he was a leader but not a vocal leader because he did not want to step on anyone’s toes,’’ Hartman said. “But he is such a competitive kid and he has done a great job of assuming the role. He looks for guys (on offense) and he digs in to play tough defense. He sets a great example for the other guys to follow.’’
On defense, Hanover Park got a huge lift from senior Joe Vadakkedam who drew back-to-back charge calls that seemed to demoralize the young Roxbury team and frustrated their efforts at driving in the paint.
“Charges are something he just has a knack for,’’ Hartman said. “He’s the best captain I’ve ever had. He is always positive. He is always an emotional leader.
Roxbury’s Ryan Kelley looks for an opening against Hanover Park’s Nick Burbella on Monday.
Overall, Hanover Park did a terrific job of frustrating the Roxbury offense. Angelo Mangiro and most of the players from last year’s record setting MCT finalist team have moved on with very few of this year’s Gaels having any varsity experience.
After starting the season 0-5, Roxbury has split the last of their games and seemed to be turning a corner. The Hornets had them well scouted and gave them defensive fits even before the Gaels started running their offensive sets.
“We knew their offense,’’ Geisser said. “We didn’t let them execute. We beat them to their spots. We anticipated their passes and got a lot of steals that way. They pass a lot and set screens. We were there before they were and got the ball from them.’’
Hanover Park continued to build on their advantage in the third quarter. A putback by Williams off a Sivolella miss gave Hanover Park a 56-37 edge going into the final period. The Hornets continued to pull away from there and started thinking about their next contest – a tough battle against Chathamon the road on Wednesday.
Other games of note:
Morristown-Beard 69, Hopatcong 49 – The Crimson move to 13-0. Chris Jenkins had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Brian Bartner added 19 points for Morristown-Beard. Hunter Guard paced the Chiefs with 20 points.
Madison 59, Morris Hills 43 – The Dodgers took a 15-8 first quarter lead and never relinquished it. Matt Gilbert and Cameron Dias scored 19 apiece for Madison. Evan Staikos had a 15-point, 10-rebound night for the Scarlet Knights.
Jefferson 66, Pequannock 38 – Drew Hall had 17 points and the Falcons pulled away with a 21-9 third-quarter run. Ryan Brogan had 12 for the Golden Panthers.
Chatham 56, Randolph 50 – Luke Conrad’s 12 points led four scorers in double figures for the balanced Cougars. Julian Aiken, Morris County’s scoring leader, was held to 21 points.
Montville 49, Parsippany Hills 36 – The Mustangs took a 16-0 first-quarter lead and maintained their edge the rest of the way. Marc Przetak had 10 for Montville. Manny Dance scored 13 for the Vikings.
Whippany Park 61, Wallkill Valley 42 – Andrew Holleran’s 24-point performance paced the Wildcats. Whippany Park used a 23-7 second-quarter effort to build a 44-18 halftime lead.