Heeman, Moore take All-Morris County honors

By Mark Kitchin

MORRIS PLAINS – Mount Olive’s Zach Heeman was named Player of the Year and Mount Olive coach Kevin Moore earned Coach of the Year honors at the Morris County Boys Basketball Coaches Association end-of-the-year banquet on Tuesday at Bretton Woods Inn.

Sixteen boys basketball players in all were honored by their coaches and applauded by family and friends. Many of the athletes chosen will complete their varsity careers on Thursday by playing in the Morris-Sussex Senior All-Star Classic which is being held at Mount Olive High School with a 7 p.m. tip off.

Heeman will not play although he did say he was going to attend and cheer on his Marauders teammate Steve Leonardo. Heeman and his teammate Rashaan Spencer are juniors and are not eligible for the senior showcase until next year.

“It’s an honor,’’ Heeman said. “I’ve grown up watching Morris County basketball. I’ve seen the players that go through these programs and it’s quite and honor to be named Player of the Year.’’

It is rare for a junior to earn the honor and the pressure is on to see what Heeman and the Marauders can do next year for an encore.

“There are definitely expectations for us to win another county championship,’’ Heeman said. “I think we can easily do it as long as we put the work in this summer and — knock on wood — we stay healthy. I definitely think with the amount of talent coming back from this year, we can take it again.’’

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Zach Heeman, right, was named Morris County Player of the Year by the Morris County Boys Basketball Coaches Association. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Heeman had an outstanding year for Mount Olive which finished at 23-6. Individually, Heeman averaged 19 points and 12 rebounds a game and also passed the 1,000-point milestone for his varsity career. As a team, the Morris County Tournament champions advanced to a state sectional semifinal before falling to NJAC-American Division rival Sparta.

“We lost eight seniors last year,’’ Heeman said. “A lot of people thought we were going to have a rebuilding year. It was going to be a slower year. I talked with Rashaan (Spencer) about it and we knew that if we put in the amount of work that we should, we get the players to jump on board and go along with coach’s system and if we believe in what he gives us, it’s going to be hard to lose.’’

Last week Heeman gave a verbal commitment to Rutgers University in order to play football on scholarship. The 6-foot-8, 230-pound athlete, who will be a lineman for the Scarlet Knights, credits his hard work during basketball for some of his success on the gridiron.

“It’s one of the attributes that the coaches said they liked about me best,’’ Heeman said. “It was the athletic ability that they felt that basketball provided for me — the foot speed, the quickness, the agility. I give basketball all the credit for where I am right now in football.’’

Heeman also gives a lot of credit to Moore, whose use of the Grinnell System and up-tempo style has give the Marauders an identity the basketball program never had before. In Moore’s speech about Heeman, he told the audience about the brief talks the duo would have just before or coming out of halftime to discuss what had to be done in the second half.

“I’ve learned more than basketball from him,’’ Heeman said. “I’ve become a better person, a better man from what he’s taught me. Obviously from basketball he’s taught me a different skill sets, but it’s not all about basketball. What he taught me as a person I will take to my grave.’’

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Mount Olive’s Kevin Moore was named Coach of the Year. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Moore’s honor was the last one of the afternoon. He was the last coach of the now defunct Bayley-Ellard program and also was the County College of Morris head coach for several years. In three seasons at Mount Olive his teams have posted a 60-19 record. In accepting the honor, he thanked his coaching peers and expressed his admiration for Morris County basketball.

“I’m extremely honored and appreciative,’’ Moore said. “I grew up in Morris County and played against teams that were coached by (Mendham’s Jim) Baglin, (Mountain Lakes’ John) ByDook and (Delbarton’s Dan) Whalen. To be mentioned in the same category with them is a tremendous honor.

“They know that you are only as good as your players. At Mount Olive we have a tremendous group. They work extremely hard. The honor is for them as much as for me.’’

First team All-Morris County honorees included Joe Timmes of Chatham, Ryan Harris of Randolph, Sean Hoehn of Morristown, Spencer of Mount Olive and Ryan Curran of Delbarton.

The second team included: Ryan Kelley of Roxbury, A. J. Holleran of Whippany Park, Pat Barron of West Morris, Matt Williams of Hanover Park and Sam Carson of Chatham.

The third team included: Paul Tarnawski of Mountain Lakes, Brian O’Neill of Morris Knolls, Bobby Stolz of Mendham, Jesse Warech of Montville and Sam Asani of Boonton.

Heeman, Spencer, Hoehn and Warech are juniors and are eligible to make the team again next year. So is Asani from Boonton who is a sophomore. He ended up leading the county in scoring with an average of 21 points per game. He also had 9.2 assists a game which altogether provided for 2/3 of the team’s offense. Boonton coach Jim Catalano talked about how Asani, a sophomore on a young team, was given the point guard position and told he would be handling the ball 90 percent of the time. By the end of the season, Asani was barking orders on the floor like a varsity coach and many of the young Bombers had increased levels of confidence because his leadership helped them to grow, too. Boonton won eight games this season after going 1-25 the year before.

West Morris Coach Wayne Shapiro came up with the most off-beat speech of the luncheon comparing some of Highlander guard Pat Barron’s long range efforts to hitting a basket on the moon like Pink Floyd– from the dark side. The comment served as a running joke for several coaches that spoke after him.

There were some short but memorable speeches. Whippany Park’s Jeff Kleinbaum talked about Holleran and his determination to overcome injuries just before and during the season that would have sidelined most players for the year. Morris Knolls coach Ken Ferrare discussed the sacrifice of O’Neill, who dutifully served in a limited role in his sophomore and junior seasons backing up former All-Morris County standout Esaun Mobley only to have a full plate of responsibilities and then some thrust on him during his senior year.

The luncheon also marked a changing of the guard among the coaches association hierarchy. Roxbury coach Jon Deeb is the new president of the organization replacing long time president Whalen. Whalen has been running the luncheons probably as long as they were initiated. Whalen was to be replaced by Bill Kilduff this year, but the former Randolph coach resigned in January for health reasons. Whalen returned to head the association for the remainder of the year and Deeb volunteered to take the position during the organization’s end-of-the season meeting earlier in the month.

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About mcvbb

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

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