The more the merrier for Montville

By Mark Kitchin


BUTLER — When some teams play a three-guard system, there seems to be too many hands and not enough basketballs to go around. That doesn’t seem to be the case in Montville where the more guards — the merrier the Mustangs.

Senior guard Jesse Warech scored 24 points and junior guard Jacob Kaplan added 21 to lift Montville to a 76-63 triumph over Parsippany in the opening round of the Butler Holiday Tournament. Montville will play the winner of Pompton Lakes and Butler in Saturday’s finals while Parsippany will play in the consolation game.

Lionel Chambers scored 21 points and Hayden Cerrato added 11 for the Red Hawks. Montville led 46-29 at halftime but Parsippany went on a 10-0 run to start the third quarter and give the Mustangs a brief scare. Montville regained its composure and slowly pulled away.

28 bb mtvparMontville guard Tyler Storch gets off a shot as Parsippany’s  Tyler Cecere defends. Photo by Mark Kitchin

The ability of Montville to bounce back is not surprising due to the experience and maturity of its guard play. Warech, a senior, Kaplan, a junior, and senior guard Tyler Storch (12 points) have been playing together as guards for a little over two seasons since Kaplan emerged as a rare freshman varsity starter when the others were sophomores.

“I always find Tyler for threes,” said Kaplan, who probably functions best when playing the point. “I’m always looking for Jesse. We find whoever has the hot hand and that’s mostly it.”

It’s a pretty simple philosophy but unless a team has a good mix of unselfish players that have a sense of team chemistry, it doesn’t always translate to winning basketball.

“We are at our best when we are all looking for each other and the ball moves,” Warech said. “When guys are hitting shots, we are looking for each other. When one guy isn’t, the others are stepping up. We can all handle (the ball) so it is comforting to know when the ball is in the hands of any one of us, something good is going to happen.”

All three players bring complementary skills to the floor but the one common denominator is that all three have good range from the perimeter and can shoot the ball with accuracy.

50 bb mtvparMontville’s Jesse Warech led all scorers with 24 points in Friday’s tournament game. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Montville coach Bill Medina likes the subtle differences that each player provides while driving to the basket. Kaplan loves to go hard and draw contact. Warech can drive and draw fouls too, but he can also pull up off the dribble. Storch can also push the ball to the rim but he adds a distinct level of speed, athleticism and leaping ability when he goes to the hoop.

Their versatility and unselfishness does a lot to fuel the Montville offense. Friday’s game provided a good example, Kaplan scored 16 first-quarter points to help Montville to a 25-12 early lead. When Parsippany made adjustments it was Storch and Warech who combined for 13 of the team’s 21 second-quarter points that made it a 46-29 score at the half.

“It was our team philosophy from day one,” Medina said. “We are going to ride whoever is hot. Our offense is predicated on moving the ball and making sure we get someone open.”

Of the three, Storch can be especially streaky. He looks for spots on the perimeter and when he knocks a couple down from outside he can get dangerously hot and on occasion take over a contest.

“Once his confidence is up and he puts in a shot or two, it’s like he has ice in his veins,” Warech said. “He plays the best when the two of us are looking for him and when he’s looking for his own shot.”

9 bb mtvparMontville’s Tyler Storch defends as Parsippany’s Tyler Cecere puts up a shot. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Because of their perimeter ability and the advantage of having three playmakers, Montville doesn’t worry about generating offense. It’s the Mustangs’ commitment on defense and level of intensity will probably determine their level of success this year.

“I told our team that we can score 100 points, but if they score 102 we are going to lose every game,” Medina said. “I’m not worried about scoring, it is really buckling down on defense. It’s the little things, boxing out, the loose balls and playing together as a team on defense. That’s what it really came down to today.”

Friday’s win also highlighted the importance of intensity. The Mustangs had what seemed like a commanding 46-29 halftime lead. It took a little more than two minutes for the Red Hawks to dissolve their advantage from 17 points to 7. Montville had to call timeout and adjust its attitude.

20 bb mtvparMontville’s Jesse Warech drives to the basket during first half action. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

“I think they just got complacent,” Medina said. “They had a lead and they felt like they had them. Parsippany just came out ready to do battle.”

After the holidays, Montville will be challenged to start the new year with NJAC games against American Division favorites Mount Olive and Pope John. The Mustangs know that any flaws in their defense or lack of intensity going against those challenging opponents is going to cost them dearly.

“We have to have the energy level and the intensity right from the get go,” Warech said.

Holiday Tournament Results    

Jefferson 47, Governor Livingston 35

The Falcons advance to the final of the Morris Knolls Tournament. Tyler Jones had 13 points and Chris Telman added 12. The Falcons pulled away with an 18-8 fourth-quarter burst to go to 2-0.

Morris Knolls 61, Parsippany Hills 41

The Golden Eagles (3-0) led 24-17 at halftime. Ryan Bornemann had 16 points and Jared Badalamenti added 15 for Morris Knolls. Jefferson and Morris Knolls play in Saturday’s final.

13 bb mtvparCoach Bill Medina and the Montville bench show their interest on Friday. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Millburn 54, Madison 36

Kevin Armstrong scored 13 points to pace the winless Dodgers (0-3) in Cougar Classic play.

Dover 80, Boonton 58

Ryan Charyshyn scored 38 points and Dwayne Brown added 17 to help the Tigers even their mark at 2-2 in the consolation round of the Dover Tournament. Joe McCabe had 15 points and eight rebounds and Sammi Asani had 15 points for the winless Bombers.

High Point 53, Kinnelon 36

The Wildcats 12-3 fourth-quarter effort earned them the title at the Wallkill Valley Tournament.

Union Catholic 84, Morristown-Beard 52

Chris Pooler had 16 points for the Crimson in the Al Lobalbo Classic contest. Morristown-Beard fell behind 26-9 in the opening quarter and never recovered. They play Christ the King (NY) on Saturday.

Livingston 49, Pequannock 39

A 13-1 third quarter by the Lancers doomed the host Golden Panthers in the Blue and Gold Tournament. Pequannock plays Newton on Saturday.

Chatham 62, New Providence 45

Graham Delaney scored 20 points and launched five 3-pointers for the Cougars. Luke Conrad added 17 points and Colin McKenna had 10 for the Cougars (2-1).

Mendham 45, West Morris 39

Alex Jacobs had 15 points and seven rebounds and Jack Horan had 13 points and nine rebounds to lift the Minutemen to the J. P. Flynn title game. Mendham led 22-16 at the half and held on to improve to 3-1. Pat Gialanella had 13 points and Conor Barron had nine for the Wolfpack (2-1).

Wayne Valley 59, Delbarton 39

Wayne Valley led 28-15 at the half and built on its lead the rest of the way. Wayne Valley plays Mendham in the title game of the J. P. Flynn.

Morris Catholic 57, Morris Hills 39

Wayne Patterson scored 16 points and Ryan Feeney added 10 for the Crusaders (3-1) in J. P. Flynn action. The Scarlet Knights dropped to 1-3 despite Dillon Washington’s 15 points.

Hillside 64, Randolph 53

The Comets pulled away with a 19-8 fourth quarter run in the Joe Silver Tournament. The Rams are 0-4.


About mcvbb

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

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