MCT Prelim Preview

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountyvarsityboysbasketball The Morris County Tournament starts in earnest this week. Nine preliminary games are on the slate. It is the only chance at glory for some struggling squads, so they are looking to make the most of it. Seven of the nine games are scheduled for Saturday, but check with the competing schools especially if weather becomes a factor.


Morris Catholic at Randolph, 7

The 21st-seeded Crusaders are in a rebuilding mode. They have experienced success with wins against Parsippany and Morristown-Beard. Jay Flaherty and Andre Spruill have stepped up at times. However, it will be tough for Morris Catholic to overcome Randolph. The 12th seeded Rams are a team that could do some damage in the tournament. Ryan Harris is among the counties top scorers. Barry Lynch and Michael Talbert have emerged as valuable contributors. They also have good size up front with Patrick Archer and Aaron Harris among their more aggressive players.


Dover at Morris Knolls, 5:30

The 20th-seeded Tigers are better than past seasons. The presence of 7-foot-1 Dave Bollok helps. His presence near the basket allows the other Tigers to be more aggressive defensively. Dover also has good quickness and Ryan Charyshyn and James Quiles are improving players. The Golden Eagles are better than a 13th seed. They switched divisions but some of their losses were to very good teams (Sparta, Mount Olive, Pope John, Seton Hall Prep). Brian O’Neill has the ability to take over games at the point. Mike Signer has been a steady standout up front and Hugo Jimenez has shown signs of improvement in recent games.


Madison at Roxbury, 1 p.m.

It’s been a rocky season for the Dodgers, which are in a period of transition with a new coach and starting crew. Madison is a capable bunch and snagging an upset isn’t impossible. Sean Haughey can score from under the basket and behind the arc. Devin Koep is tough as nails. Gavin Wallace also contributes in a lot of ways. Roxbury will be tough to stop because of point guard Ryan Kelley. The Gaels senior has plenty of experience and he’s great off the dribble. He also knocks down his free throws near the ends of games. Doug Alexander and Malcolm Chavis do the dirty work up front. Tim Pilrun and Anthony McMyne are not afraid to step up in crunch time.

Boonton at Pequannock, 3 p.m.

The 23rd seeded Bombers will fight the good fight. Chris D’Avanzo and Joe McCabe will put up a lot of shots. The trouble is they better not miss. The Bombers have no size while the Golden Panthers are giants. Kurt Weinmann, Ian Campbell, Kevin Glynn all stand 6-foot-3 or higher. They should grab plenty of boards. These teams did play before and Pequannock prevailed 66-60 on January 8. Pequannock point guard Nick LaPorta had 28 points. The Golden Panthers have won five of six since then.

31 bb roxran

Roxbury’s Ryan Kelley is one of several quality point guards in action during the MCT prelims. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Parsippany at West Morris, 3 p.m.

The 22nd-seeded Red Hawks can be a difficult foe. Lionel Chambers is active and athletic up front. Leonard Lee controls the ball and the trio of Max Berns, Anthony Lonero and Sagar Patel has had its moments. They have improved on the defensive end but Parsippany’s lack of offense has been befuddling at times. No.11 West Morris got off to a strong start but has been slumping in recent weeks. Put some of it down to inexperience. The sophomore guard combo of Conor Barron and Sean McElwaine is talented but at times make the mistakes that underclassmen make. The Highlanders benefit from having 6-foot-6 Sam McClellan up front. Pat Barron is a capable shooter and team leader.

Montville at Morristown-Beard, 6 p.m.

This is one of those games that could go either way depending upon the emotions of the two young teams. Montville, the 18th-seed, is full of juniors and sophomores. Jacob Kaplan is improving at the point. Most of the time he feeds Jesse Warech who has a good mid-range game and can knock down deep threes. When 15th-seeded Morristown-Beard is shooting well, it can fill the nets. Inconsistency is their calling card, but a red hot Crimson team can be difficult. Just ask rival Morristown High. Ben O’Connell runs an offense that includes Stephen Sangree, Justin Stiles and Brandon Babb. If the Crimson can score from the perimeter it opens up space for lanky and athletic Mark Abouyoun to work in the paint. He recently put up a season-high 26 in a win over Parsippany.

Parsippany Hills at Whippany Park, 7 p.m.

The Vikings have taken a beating in the hotly contested NJAC National Division. The struggling team is hoping that torture test will help against non-division opponents. Parsippany Hills doesn’t lack for athleticism and Manny Dance is fearless in drives to the hoop. Mike DiEdwardo also provides a scoring threat and Connor Clark provides rebounds and putbacks. The Wildcats are a different team when Jake Waddon is on the floor. Combined with A. J. Holleran the two are a potent inside-outside combination. Ricky Tango and Ken Jones make contributions that aren’t always found in boxscores. Freshmen Ryan Gaynor and Mark Bassista have also made a serious impact.

Kinnelon at Morris Hills, 7 p.m.

The 17th-seeded Colts have been struggling lately. Sean Robbins has been coming off injury and the team’s cohesion hasn’t been there. However, R. J. Giannetti is still one of the top rebounders and the state and is capable of big games on the boards. Evan Argirou has also shown some range. No. 16 Morris Hills has run off a nifty three-game winning streak recently with triumphs over Vernon, High Point and Montville. Quincy Jules has been running a steady point. Brian Walls has emerged as a tough and gritty defensive player with an improving perimeter touch. After last year’s injury plagued season, Dillon Washington has been a pleasant development under the boards and Matt Szkola has recently come back from injury to be the Scarlet Knights’ serious deep threat.

Mountain Lakes at Butler, 7 p.m.

These two teams have played twice already. The eighth-seeded Lakers captured both meetings. A 51-46 win on Dec. 14 was followed with a 70-28 romp on January 22. The Lakers had a rough start to the season but have since won four of their last five. Paul Tarnawski has great touch around the rim. Chris Cuccinello has quietly developed at the point and Chris Herring knocks down nearly three 3-pointers a game. Butler the 25th-seed does have weapons. Nick Ballistreri is a fearless competitor and 6-foot-5 Billy White can block shots and is known to wow the crowd with a dunk or two.


About mcvbb

Mark Kitchin is a boys varsity basketball writer for the Morris County New Jersey area

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