Morris-Sussex All-Star athletes had a ball

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountyvarsityboysbasketball

MOUNT OLIVE – Most basketball players finish their varsity high school careers with a loss. It makes it all the more satisfying to get on the court one more time after tournament play with a chance to finish a winner or at the very least have some fun.

The Morris team in the Morris-Sussex All-Star Senior Classic did both on Thursday. Randolph’s Ryan Harris scored 24 points with the help of five 3-pointers to lift Morris to a 133-115 victory over Sussex in the senior showcase game held at Mount Olive High School.

Ryan Kelley of Roxbury and Jake Waddon of Whippany Park scored 11 points apiece for the Morris team which had 17 players on its roster. Each athlete saw playing time and every athlete in a Morris uniform scored. Talented senior point guard Zach Frick was the Sussex MVP. The Sparta standout finished with 32 points while his Spartan teammate Jake Melville added 20 points. High Point’s John Mutch scored 16 points and Dan Griffin of Newton added 15 for Sussex.

The Morris All-Stars were all smiles afterwards. Harris, the Morris MVP, has been looking forward to the game since his season ended painfully and prematurely early for Randolph in its state game against Paterson East Side.

“I didn’t really play in my last actual high school game because I fell and busted my head open,’’ Harris said. “I just wanted to come out here and do a little more because I only scored three points that game. It’s fun playing with all these kids. These are all-stars right here. It’s just a fun highlight for my senior year.’’

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Randolph’s Ryan Harris scored 24 points to earn MVP honors for the Morris team on Thursday. (Photo by Maryann Harlow)

The highlight wasn’t only how he played but who he played with. Harris knew practically everyone on the Morris team. It was enjoyable experience especially since he was playing with rivals like Joe Timmes and Sam Carson on Chatham instead of against them.

“I was joking with them the whole time,’’ Harris said. “It was fun. I told them just to shoot the ball. Both of them came in and hit a couple of shots — a couple of threes. That’s what we are here for – to shoot threes.’’

Even athletes he didn’t know as well, he learned to appreciate in just a short time.

“I liked playing with Paul (Tarnawski), the big dude from Mt. Lakes,’’ Harris said. “He likes to bang it around. A.J. (Holleran of Whippany Park) is smart. I liked playing with him, too. He sees the floor. His passes got me there. I liked playing with all of them.’’

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Whippany Park’s Jake Waddon scored 11 points and notched a spectacular dunk during the All-Star Game. (Photo by Maryann Harlow)

Some players like Carson felt it was even more like a pick up game with uniforms. The Chatham guard had to honor his spring commitment to the lacrosse team. He came directly from  practice and wasn’t able to take advantage of the Morris teams only practice on Tuesday. He ended up scoring nine points and knocking down a pair of threes.

““It was a lot of fun playing with the kids you play against all year,’’  Carson said. “It was a very laid back game. I was also playing with Joe (Timmes) for the last time. It was awesome. We had a nice year together and it was definitely a good way to end it.’’

One of the highlights of the game for the Morris team was Waddon’s dunk. The Whippany Park athlete got the crowd to its feet with his rim-rocker with 14:12 left to make it an 80-60 game.

“It was pretty cool,’’ Waddon said. “There was a scramble around half court. I tapped it over a kid’s head and ran onto it. I was running down and I got past the Vernon kid (Justin Dinelle) and I decided to just go for it and give the crowd a little extra show and it worked out well.’’

Waddon enjoyed playing with his Wildcats teammate Holleran one more time. What also impressed him was the quality of his Morris All-Star teammates and how it made  the game a gratifying experience.

“It’s a lot different playing with a bunch of kids that are extremely good,’’ Waddon said. “These kids can all play and its fun to be a part of it.’’

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Delbarton’s Ryan Curran, right, works his way past Kittatinny’s Dan Leppert during All-Star action. (Photo by Maryann Harlow)

The Morris team led from the start building a 15-5 lead from the opening tap. Harris helped contribute to that advantage and scored 16 of his points in the first half to help Morris establish the advantage. The Morris team had a 17-10 edge in players and Morris coach Kevin Moore subbed athletes in and out much like he did with his Mount Olive team this year and kept the tempo going. Morris hit seven first-half threes to take a 59-45 lead at the half.

Sussex’s Melville knocked down a 3-point shot to start the second-half but it was countered by a 3-pointer by Mount Olive’s Steve Leonardo that thrilled the home crowd.

Only once did Sussex cut the deficit back to single digits. Frick was fouled on a layup off a steal. He knocked down a free throw to complete the 3-point play and make it a 67-58 game around the 17-minute mark of the second half. After a Morris miss, Melville knocked down a jumper, but Morris responded with a 3-pointer by Carson to make it 70-60. After that Morris went on a 12-0 run with the help of a Timmes 3-point shot and back-to-back scores by Waddon including his dunk to take an 82-60 advantage.

Even though Sussex never worked its way back, its players had some reasons to cheer. Fans got a chance to see Frick weave his way to the basket time and time again and his teammate Melville scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half. Sussex also got some dunks, too courtesy of back-to-back rim rockers by High Point’s John Mutch, who finished with 16 points. In the end players on both teams seemed satisfied with their performances.

“It’s just a pleasure to be part of this,’’ said Sparta’s Brian Brennan, who co-coached the Sussex team with Newton’s Dirk Kelly. “There are good players from both counties. Sussex County players always gauge themselves on how they do against Morris County. A lot of us held our own.’’

Morris-Sussex Senior All-Star Classic

Morris 133, Sussex 115

Morris (133)

Ryan Harris (Randolph) 4-5-1-24, Ryan Curran (Delbarton) 1-0-0-2, Joe Timmes (Chatham) 1-1-0-5, Sam Carson (Chatham) 1-2-1-9, Ryan Kelley (Roxbury) 2-2-1-11, A. J. Holleran (Whippany Park) 1-1-2-7, Jake Waddon (Whippany Park) 4-1-0-11, Pat Barron (West Morris) 2-1-0-7, Brendan Rudolph (Hanover Park) 3-0-2-8, Matt Williams (Hanover Park) 3-1-0-9, Paul Tarnawski (Mountain Lakes) 4-0-1-9, Brian O’Neill (Morris Knolls) 2-1-1-8, Bobby Stolz (Mendham) 0-0-1-1, Will Gibbs (Mendham) 1-0-0-2, Brian Walls (Morris Hills) 2-1-0-7, Sean Haughey (Madison) 1-1-0-5, Steve Leonardo (Mount Olive) 1-2-0-8. Totals 33-19-10-133

Sussex (115)

Dan Griffin (Newton) 5-1-2-15, Matt Fisher (Newton) 0-0-0, Dan Leppert (KIttatinny) 1-2-0-8, Jake Melville (Sparta) 4-2-6-20, Zach Frick 9-1-11-32, Cody Hilbert (Wallkill Valley) 0-1-3-6, John Mutch (High Point) 6-0-4-16, Mike Pagnetti (High Point) 1-0-5-7, Justin Dinelle (Vernon) 1-1-3-8, Tom Hoyt (Lenape Valley) 1-0-1-3. Totals 28-8-35-115

Morris 59-74-133

Sussex 45-70-115

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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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