By Mark Kitchin
CHATHAM – What a difference a year makes! When they played in last year’s Morris County Tournament final the last thing Chatham thought about was speeding up the tempo against Mount Olive.
This year in the rematch of that game it was the Cougars that were anxious to run and gun and the Marauders were looking for ways to slow the game down a bit.
Joe Timmes scored 23 points to spark Chatham to a 71-61 triumph over Mount Olive on Saturday night.Scott Baker, Rob Raiola and Luke Conrad added nine points apiece for the Cougars (6-2). Zach Heeman scored 18 points and Steven Leonardo added 12 for the Marauders (5-2).
Chatham took a 17-5 first-quarter advantage and spent the rest of the contest repelling several Mount Olive rallies.
Mount Olive’s Zach Heeman scrambles for a rebound along with Chatham Joe Timmes (34) and Dan Winschuh (23). (Photo by Mark Kitchin).
This season the Marauders have tweaked the Grinnell System it ran last year and slowed down its pace somewhat in order to give their taller players Zach Heeman (6-foot-8) and Ryan Traub (6-foot-7) more opportunities to score in the paint on offense and block shots and rebounds on defense.
Chatham, which isn’t as tall but can go deep into its bench, has opted to take advantage of its fresh legs and push the ball more this season.
“They are a different team this year but our press was really effective,’’ Chatham guard Luke Conrad said. “Were almost playing the game they played last year. I think it’s an improvement for us. We are playing really good defense.’’
Although it isn’t as frenetic as the Grinnell System, the Cougars love the up-tempo style and are getting more comfortable with it.
“We do it in practice,’’ Chatham guard Rob Raiola said. “We do it in games now. When it gets up-tempo like that we feel like we are poised and the other team might not be. We get steals, easy layups and hit open threes. That’s what our plan is.’’
The Cougars wanted to tire out the Marauders bigger players. Offensively they wanted to push the ball to the basket before they could get back on defense. They also played some pressure defense to force the Marauders into mistakes and make them play at a faster tempo.
“We wanted to speed it up more,’’ Chatham coach Todd Ervin said. “They were using a zone and it slowed us down. We wanted to tire (Heeman) out more and (point guard Rashaan) Spencer, too.’’
Mount Olive’s Zach Heeman was rarely left alone. Here Dan Winschuh (23) and Scott Baker (10) fight him for position. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)
The Chatham players also tried to be as physical as they could on Heeman. The Cougars rotated several players on him and he was swamped whenever he stepped in the paint. They also fouled him often rather than giving him an easy layup or putback. The Hack-a-Zach approach was moderately successful. He was 12 for 17 on the free throw line for the day.
“Everyone who guarded him did a great job,’’ Conrad said. “Garrett McAuliffe, Dan Winschuh, Joe Timmes was even on him a few times. We gave him different looks and made it difficult for him to get in a rhythm.’’
“We just tried to put as many bodies on him as we could,’’ Ervin said. “We tried to keep him away from the hoop. We would rather have the other kids beat us then him. He is just so big. He is hard to defend.’’
All the Cougars efforts paid off eventually. They built a 17-5 first-quarter advantage but the Marauders rallied to cut their deficit to 24-20 at halftime. Chatham started the third quarter on an 11-4 run with the help of a pair of 3-pointers by Conrad to make it 35-24 with 5:22 left in the period.
Conrad and Raiola, who were pressed into service on the varsity team as a sophomore last year because of injuries, have developed into vital members of the Cougars as both ballhandlers and shooters.
“They do a great job of taking care of the ball, finding each other, making great decisions,’’ Ervin said. “They have been tremendous this year.’’
Mount Olive didn’t give up and chipped away at the lead several times. It did reach back into its past and tried to match the Cougars score for score. They also took advantage of Chatham misses at times to get back in the game.
The Cougars led 49-32 with little over a minute left in the third quarter before the Marauders roared back with an Anthony Verrone 3-pointer and a Heeman layup to make it 49-37 going into the fourth quarter.
Chatham’s Dan Winschuh hits the floor for the ball and gets off a pass despite the defensive efforts of Mount Olive’s Steven Leonardo. (Photo by Mark Kitchin).
Five times Mount Olive cut its deficit to single-digits only to see a Chatham player hit a clutch bucket to turn it back into a double-digit game. The closest the Marauders came to the lead during their comeback was on a steal and a layup by Spencer that cut Chatham’s advantage to 64-58 with 1:13 left in the game. However, by then the Marauders were force to foul and Chatham got the ball in the hands of its better free throw shooters. Timmes was 4 for 4 and Sam Carson was 3 for 4 from the line in the final minutes to secure Chatham’s triumph.
Morris County results
Morristown-Beard 52, Morristown 48 – The Crimson knocked down 11 3-pointers to stun the top-ranked Colonials. Ben O’Connell and Stephen Sangree scored 10 points each for the Crimson (3-5). Sean Hoehn scored 15 points and Ryan Brunnock added 12 for the Colonials (5-2).
Butler 48, Hopatcong 42 – A 13-6 second-quarter run gave the Bulldogs a 22-18 halftime advantage. Nick Ballestreri led Butler with a 20-point performance.
Pequannock 47, Roxbury 38 – Kurt Weinmann scored 18 points and Kevin Glynn added 10. The Golden Panthers got off to a strong start and built a 29-13 advantage at the half. Doug Alexander paced the Gaels with 14 points.
West Morris 66, New Brunswick 60 – Pat Barron scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half to spark the Highlanders. Sophomore Sean McClellan put in a strong performance with 18 points and 17 rebounds.
Delbarton 71, Parsippany Christian 53 – Ryan Curran scored 16 points and Asad Braswell added 15 for the Green Wave in a non-conference contest.
Montville 65, Boonton 41 – A strong second half effort fueled the Mustangs’ victory.Jesse Warech scored 21 points and Jacob Kaplan had 16 points and five rebounds for Montville (3-4).
Morris Hills 46, Parsippany 36 – Brian Walls scored 16 points and Rob Sihlanick added 11 points for the Scarlet Knights (3-5). Lionel Chambers scored 12 points for the Red Hawks.
Nutley 42, Hanover Park 41 – Andrew Flynn’s bucket with three seconds left lifted Nutley to victory. Matt Williams scored 10 points for the Hornets (5-3).
Shabazz 53, Randolph 48 – Ryan Harris scored 21 points and Michael Talbert added 11 points for the Rams (3-7).