By Mark Kitchin
HANOVER TWP. — The only good thing about immaturity is that it shows players and teams where improvements must be made in order to succeed. As a junior laden squad, Whippany Park has won its share of games this season but the Wildcats were still prone to making mistakes. Unfortunately, making mistakes during tournament play is a good way to get eliminated.
Dave Barletta scored 16 points and Mike Marchesano added 14 to lift New Providence to a 50-42 triumph over Whippany Park in a North 2, Group I quarterfinal round contest on Wednesday.
A. J. Holleran scored 14 points and Tyler Raff added 12 for the Wildcats. Whippany Park played valiantly and rallied late in the game to make it interesting but the Wildcats could not overcome their mistakes to get past their 11th-seeded rivals.
Whippany Park’s Tyler Raff looks for a cutter during Wednesday’s state tournament contest.
“We will watch this game a thousand times all spring and summer and we will learn from it,’’ Whippany Park Coach Jeff Kleinbaum said. “We were 17-7 with an all-junior team and I’m thrilled with that. I have good kids and most of them are coming back. Right now I’m as upset as I can be. It bodes well for the future.’’
One aspect some of the Wildcats will cringe at during that eventual tape session will be their struggles with rebounding against the Pioneers. Too many times, Whippany Park was limited to just one shot that was rebounded by a player wearing green and white.
“It was more than part of the game, it was a major reason,’’ Kleinbaum said. “We are not a big team. If there is any work to be done — and there is a lot of work to be done — the work is on the inside. We are not big and we are not boxing (out) well.’’
Whippany Park’s A. J. Holleran (3) brings the ball upcourt against New Providence’s Robby Fay.
However, Whippany Park was in the contest for most of the game. It led 23-21 at the half. It was only late in the third quarter when the contest started slipping away. Shot selection during a rough stretch was a part of it. The Wildcats were 1 for 8 from the floor in the last five minutes of the third period. In that span New Providence created a 13-2 run while WhippanyPark went from a 30-25 lead to a 38-32 deficit.
“When (the Pioneers) were down 30-25 they went to their offense,’’ Kleinbaum said. “When we were down 33-30, we threw up shots that we shouldn’t have. They were ridiculous. They just weren’t good. I don’t want to say we lost our composure because I want to give credit to New Providence. They made us lose our composure, but we learned from it.’’
The Wildcats battled back. One WhippanyPark player that showed plenty of heart was Holleran. The Wildcats junior scored eight of his 14 points in the fourth quarter and worked hard to rally his teammates. He had a steal and layup early in the fourth quarter and also knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:39 left, both potential momentum changing plays.
“A.J. wants to win as much as any kid in this county wants to win,’’ Kleinbaum said. “He probably wanted it so bad and he really started pouring it on. He was trying to take the game over, but you can’t do that in this kind of game. Not against a well-coached team.’’
There was also one point late in the game that a little extra experience would have helpedWhippanyPark.New Providenceled the game 47-42 with 40 seconds left. The Wildcats had the ball and worked diligently passing along the perimeter to try and get an open 3-point shot with valuable seconds slipping away when a quick two-pointer would have been acceptable. They ended up with nothing. Pioneers’ Robby Fay intercepted a tipped pass and was fouled. He sank a pair of free throws with 22 seconds left that pretty much ended the Wildcats’ season.
“We told them to take it to the hole,’’ Kleinbaum said. “They went into that zone when we were still down five. We were sitting there passing it around and we were telling the kids to attack the zone.’’
Whippany Park’s Tyler Raff drives to the basket against New Providence’s Ronnie Dayle in state play on Wednesday.
New Providence advances to play North 13th Street Tech in the semifinal round of the tournament. Kleinbaum and the Wildcats wish the Pioneers well.
“They are a good team,’’ Kleinbaum said. “They play tough competition. We looked at the seedings and we said that is a game that if we get to it, we were going to have our hands full. They played smarter than us tonight. They deserved to win.’’
State Tournament results
North 1, Group III
Teaneck 71 , Jefferson 40 – The Falcons finished the season at 15-12.
North 2, Group III
Mendham 69, Irvington 66, OT – The Minutemen improve to 20-5. Drew Jacobs scored 31 points and Nick Maguire added 17. Mendham faces top-seededRahwayin the next round on Friday.
Newark East Side 55, Chatham 36 – Jonathan Berntsen scored 13 points and the Cougars finish the season 24-5. Jamal Reid and Ismael Sanego scored 17 points apiece for Newark East Side.
Bergen Catholic 55, Delbarton 52 – The Green Wave finished the season with an 8-16 mark.
Non Public B
Hawthorne Christian 62, Morris Catholic 43 – Darius Osario-Vega and Paul Shapiro had 10 points apiece for the 6-20 Crusaders in a game that was played on Wednesday.