By Mark Kitchin
MORRIS TWP. — Still visibly shaken from its Morris County Tournament quarterfinal defeat, Morristown-Beard struggled against Whippany Park on Monday, but Chris Jenkins wouldn’t let the Crimson lose again. Jenkins got a put back off a teammate’s missed free throw and sank two critical free throws of his own late in Morristown-Beard’s 58-54 victory over the Wildcats.
The triumph gave Crimson the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference – Liberty Division title. It also put a little more spring back in Morristown-Beard’s step. Senior guard Tyler Terens finished with 19 points, Jenkins had 16 and Harrison Rosemond contributed 13 for Morristown-Beard (19-1).
A. J. Holleran had 14 points and Jake Waddon had 12 for the Wildcats. Whippany Park led 26-23 at halftime and also closed in on the Crimson late in the contest but Jenkins heroics in the final minute saved his Morristown-Beard team when it needed him most.
Morristown-Beard’s Harrison Rosemond knocks the ball away from a Whippany Park opponent during Monday’s game.
“We were still a little down from Saturday,’’ Jenkins said. “We were still a little disappointed. At halftime we just decided that we had to forget about the loss and just figure out how to come together and get the game and our season straightened out as soon as possible.’’
Although the Crimson led most of the second half, they couldn’t shake the Wildcats. A crucial play in the contest came from the foul line when Terens missed a free throw and Jenkins stepped in front of a Whippany Park defender and laid the ball in to make it a 56-52 game with 14.6 seconds left in regulations.
“I told him to just step inside,’’ Morristown-Beard coach Ed Franz said. “Thank goodness it fell directly in his hands. That was the game.’’
Wildcats’ Waddon rebounded a miss and scored inside of five seconds to make it a two-point game. Whippany Park was forced to foul Jenkins on the subsequent inbounds but Jenkins knocked down both his free throws with 2.7 seconds left to secure the triumph.
“It was all focus and determination,’’ Jenkins added. “That’s all it is.’’
On Saturday, the Crimson rallied from 17 points down in an effort to reach the MCT semifinals for the first time in school history and sent the game into overtime on an amazing off-balance shot by Rosemond. The Saturday loss was such a devastating emotional defeat that there were times the Crimson looked lost on the court on Monday. Franz could tell from warm ups on that the Crimson were still a heartbroken and distracted from losing to Randolph, an eighth-seeded squad that earned a virtual home game against top seeded Morristown-Beard since the school hosts the quarterfinal round every year. After winning 17 consecutive games, bouncing back after the first loss of the season can be a difficult task.
“I hadn’t seen that look all year. They just wanted to get through this,’’ Franz said. “(Whippany Park coach Jeff Kleinbaum’s) kids played great. They pass the ball great. They jumped us last year after we lost (in the MCT). I told the kids that. The kids thought they had the energy but they didn’t.’’
Morristown-Beard’s Matt Rosenberg (20) looks to drive past Whippany Park Anil Vegesna (21) in the first half of Monday’s contest.
The Crimson did get a spark in the third quarter with some full-court pressure. The Wildcats led 26-23 at the half but the Crimson went on a 13-0 run. Terens scored seven of those points including a 3-pointer midway through the stretch. Jenkins hit a layup just inside the six-minute mark to end the run and take a 36-26 lead.
“The press always gives us more energy,’’ Jenkins said. “We work on it every day in practice. We just needed a lot of energy.’’
Whippany Park started chipping away at the Morristown-Beard advantage at the end of the quarter, cutting it to 44-38. An 8-0 run by the Wildcats helped them tie the game with 2:28 left on a Waddon layup to make it a 50-50 game.
“They are a lot more confident than they have been the past few years,’’ Jenkins said. “They run their offense well and they play solid defense. We just had to take advantage of our opportunities.’’
Jenkins rebounded his own miss and put in a layup with 1:45 left for a two-point lead. On two separate possessions Whippany Park tried to take the lead on 3-point shot attempts by Tyler Raff but both shots were off. Down the stretch, Terens hit a layup at the 30-second mark but Waddon responded with a jumper six seconds later to make it 54-52. That set the stage for Jenkins heroics and helped the Crimson secure a division title.
Whippany Park’s Jake Waddon has had a huge impact on the Wildcats this season.
Scores of note
Chatham 60, Morris Catholic 42 – Senior guard Jonathan Berntsen came off the bench to score 19 points. Joe Timmes scored 13 and Colin Brown added 12 to fuel the Cougars triumph. Darius Osorio-Vega scored 22 point to fuel the Crusaders. Brown scored 10 of his points in the first quarter and Timmes had nine in the second quarter to help the Cougars build a commanding 37-21 halftime advantage.
Chatham’s Scott Baker pulls the ball away from Morris Catholic rebounders during the Cougars victory on Monday.
Mount Olive 108, Morris Hills 100, OT – The Marauders rallied from a 46-34 halftime deficit. The teams were tied at 95 at the end of regulation. Zach Heeman scored 25 points, Jim Pastena had 22 and Rashaan Spencer contributed 20 for the 17-4 Marauders which achieved their highest point total of the season.
Mendham 63, Delbarton 45 – The win kept the Minutemen in the hunt for a share of the National Division title. Drew Jacobs scored 24 points for Mendham. The Minutemen built a 33-14 halftime advantage.
Mountain Lakes 63, Kinnelon 56 – Ethan Lubowitz had 18 points and 11 rebounds to pace the Lakers. Sean Robbins scored 21 points for the Colts.
Sparta 56, Jefferson 54 – Jake Melville’s 29-point performance sparked the Spartans. Jon Kristoffersen had 17 for the Falcons.
Morris Knolls 77, West Morris 49 – A 23-11 second quarter effort helped the Golden Eagles take a 30-24 edge at the half.
Randolph 74, Parsippany Hills 50 – A 21-11 third-quarter run cemented the win for the Rams.
Parsippany 55, Dover44; Pope John 74, Montville 59; Morristown 69, Roxbury 49; Hanover Park 67, Pequannock 57.