By Mark Kitchin
PARSIPPANY – Montville’s Jesse Warech probably could have moved in a little bit when he caught the ball in the closing seconds of regulation during Tuesday’s game against Parsippany Hills but launching shots from long range doesn’t seem to bother him. He showed that he can drain them from anywhere.
Warech, a junior guard, nailed a 3-point shot with four seconds remaining to tie the game at 57-all and scored four of his team’s six overtime points in Montville’s 63-57 triumph last night.
Sophomore guard Jacob Kaplan added 11 points for Montville (5-5). The Mustangs trailed most of the game and rallied from a 12-point fourth quarter deficit. Warech scored 11 of his team’s 23 fourth-quarter points.
Senior guard Manny Dance scored 26 points including four 3-pointers for Parsippany Hills (1-8). Mike DiEdwardo added 11 points for the Vikings.
Montville’s Jesse Warech scrambles for a loose ball in first half action. Warech scored 29 points on Tuesday. (Photo by Mark Kitchin).
The non-division triumph took on a lot of importance for Montville especially with the seedings of the Morris County Tournament coming up on Sunday. A loss to a team with just one other victory would cripple the Mustangs chances of a decent ranking.
Montville was trailing 57-54 with 8.9 seconds remaining in regulation. Warech took a pass from a teammate that was well behind the 3-point arc at the top of the key. He had some space and an extra second or two to move in closer if he wished but the Mustangs’ scorer was comfortable with launching a shot that only NBA sharpshooters normally take.
“Coach got mad at me for taking (missing) one with about three minutes left from that same distance,’’ Warech said. “All I was thinking was: ‘you better make this one’.
“As I caught it, I just focused on the rim and let it go. It wasn’t designed to be that far out but once the guy backed off I just let it go.’’
The ball felt good coming off Warech’s hands. He knew it was a winner.
Parsippany Hills’ Kire Milevski fired a prayer from half court that bounced off the backboard to end regulation. Warech’s score gave his team momentum going into the overtime period. In the huddle between periods the Mustangs were encouraged to keep the intensity up and be aggressive going to the basket since they were in the bonus.
Neither team fared well shooting from the floor in the overtime. Parsippany Hills missed all seven of its shots from the field. Montville was only 1 for 4. The only field goal of the four-minute period gave the Mustangs the lead for good. It was a driving layup by Kaplan with about two minutes left that gave Montville its first lead since the first quarter. Warech extended the advantage when he drew Dance’s fifth foul with 32 seconds left in the game and knocked down a pair of free throws to make it a 61-57. He would hit two more with 1.4 seconds left to cement the win.
“Everything was falling our way,’’ Montville coach Bill Medina said. “We were hitting our foul shots and the kids knew they had a chance. We really wanted this win. They knew we needed this win today.’’
Montville’s Tyler Storch scored six of his eight points in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s game. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)
Montville didn’t overlook its opponents early on but the Mustangs didn’t match the intensity that the smaller but scrappier Vikings. Parsippany Hills also battled on the boards with the taller opponent and limited Montville’s second-chance scoring opportunities.
“We just got everyone together and said, ‘we can’t fold now, we have to step this up’,’’ Warech said. “We weren’t going to come out of here with a loss.’’
One player that gave Montville fits was Dance. The Parsippany Hills shooting guard scored 13 of his 26 in the first half including three from long range. He was also aggressive in going to the basket and often came up with a clutch score when his team needed it. The Vikings took a 14-11 first-quarter lead and extended it to 32-24 at the half.
“It didn’t feel like we had the energy that we normally do to start games,’’ Warech said. “When we got down, we figured out what we needed to do to step up our energy level.
“They had some quick guards with some good hands. We turned the ball over way too many times in the first half and even towards the third quarter. In the fourth quarter and in overtime we took care of the ball and did what we needed to do.’’
Montville came out with better intensity in the second half and also threw in some full-court zone and man-to-man pressure defenses. Although they didn’t always get turnovers from it, the Mustangs felt the disruption kept the Vikings from settling into their offense.
“In the fourth-quarter we went to more of a man-to-man press and it helped out,’’ Warech said. “We have quick defensive guards that benefit more from the press that we use.’’
Parsippany Hills started the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run. A layup by Mike DiEdwardo off a Kire Milevski pass at the six-minute mark gave the Vikings their biggest lead at 49-37. Despite the deficit, Medina knew that if the Mustangs could lift their energy level and execute better they had a good chance at victory.
Parsippany Hills’ Vincent Mondo drives to the basket but Jesse Warech and the Montville defense make it difficult. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)
“That’s just the team,’’ Medina said. “We’ve been inconsistent all year. When it comes down to crunch time they listened and were focused and they came back to what our strategy was at the beginning of the game.’’
Montville answered with a 7-0 run of its own punctuated by Warech’s 3-pointer about two minutes later.
“One thing we have in our favor is that our kids are composed when it comes down to crunch time,’’ Medina said. “They really focus and they know what they have to do.’’
Parsippany Hills had a 53-47 edge after it called time out with 1:19 left but Montville was ready to close the gap. Pressure defense helped Warech steal a pass. His jump shot missed but Kaplan was there to rebound the ball. He was fouled on the putback and turned it into a 3-point play.
“I love playing on the floor with him,’’ Warech said of Kaplan. “He sees guys. He’s a smart player and he will knock down shots when you give it to him.’’
Montville nearly got another steal off a cross-court pass but Dance snatched the ball from Mustangs’ Tyler Storch and hit a layup to make it 55-50 just inside a minute. Warech and Storch each sank a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to 55-54 with about 30 seconds remaining. Parsippany Hills responded with Milevski finding Dance with a long pass that led to a layup and a Montville time out with 20.8 seconds.
A Warech miss forced the Mustangs to foul Dance but he missed the front end of the 1-and-1. Montville got the rebound and the timeout that set up Warech’s game-tying fling and eventually a Mustangs victory.
Morris County results
Madison 69, Boonton 45 – Sean Haughey scored 21 points and Gavin Wallace added 12 for the Dodgers. Madison is 4-6 and has won three of its last four games. Chris D’Avanzo scored 17 points and Sammy Asani added 14 for Boonton.
New Providence 52, Morris Catholic 45 – Andre Spruell scored 14 points and Zach Williams added 10 points for the Crusaders (3-5).