Cahill’s bucket lifts Whippany Park past Par Hills

By Mark Kitchin


PARSIPPANY — Youth is being served at Whippany Park but the result often causes Wildcats’ coaches and fans indigestion.

Senior center Ryan Cahill’s layup with 2.8 seconds left provided the winning points in Whippany Park’s 48-46 victory over Parsippany Hills on Friday.

Sophomore Mark Basista scored 10 points and Ryan Gaynor and Nassir Walker had nine apiece for the Wildcats. The win evens their record at 5-5.

Raj Patel had 14 points and Nazier Wheeler added 11 for Parsippany Hills (1-12). The Vikings rallied from a 46-39 deficit and tied the game on Jason Lawaga’s 3-point shot with 1:41 left in regulation.

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Whippany Park’s Ryan Cahill battles Parsippany Hills’ Raj Patel (3) and Mitch Hohn (21) for the ball during first half action. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

The victories are coming for Whippany Park but they are certainly not easy ones. The Wildcats sometimes play as many as four sophomores on the floor at one time. Gaynor, Basista, Walker and Joe Michalewski are taking their lumps and enduring a trial by fire with every contest. The season has also proven to be a challenging one for long time coach Jeff Kleinbaum.

“I’ve had experienced teams, a lot of seniors,” Kleinbaum said. “I have only three seniors this year on the whole team. I have a lot of sophomores and a good freshman class. It’s an adjustment. I’m testing my patience and my ability to stay focused.”

Ryan Cahill and Tyler Passero are seniors on the team but even they have had limited experience. Cahill recognizes the growing pains that the younger players are dealing with from when he played as a sophomore.

“They are very talented,” Cahill said. “They still have a lot to learn. Me and Tyler are helping them to do their best and gain experience and hopefully get more wins this season. When I was a sophomore I feel like I made the same mistakes they do. I remember at the end of games taking bad shots and the coach getting mad but that comes with experience.”

9 bb wpphParsippany Hills’ Nazier Wheeler dives for a  loose ball during first half action. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

The good thing about seeing so much time as a sophomore on the varsity level is that the improvement is measurable.

“Absolutely,” Kleinbaum said. “I learn from them about my team. I saw a lot of things I had not seen (before) from these guys. … (For example) Ryan Gaynor is a dead-eye shooter but he had a tough day. He has to learn how to play when his shot isn’t falling. You have to do other things. You have to play better defense, rebound …  .”

Considering its records the Whippany Park-Parsippany Hills contest seemed like a mismatch. However, there were reasons to believe the game might develop into a much tighter battle. The Vikings are coming off their first win of the season against Parsippany High which gave them a shot of confidence. They also consistently face tough competition in the NJAC-National Division which makes them better than their record would suggest. Also, Whippany Park has had some bad experiences against Parsippany Hills in the past including a memorable MCT upset a few years ago.

Whippany Park took a 28-22 advantage at the half and a 37-35 edge going into the final period. The Wildcats started a 7-2 fourth-quarter run that was triggered by a Passero 3-pointer to make it 44-37 at the five-minute mark.

22 bb wpphWhippany Park’s Ryan Gaynor drives to the hoop but Parsippany Hills’ Amrah Nagenderan is ready to reject him. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

After an exchange of baskets, Whippany Park held a 7-point lead with 3:49 left when Parsippany Hills launched a 7-0 run of its own. A steal and a layup by Patel and a trey from Lawaga were key scores in the rally. Lawaga, who scored seven points off the bench, thrilled the Parsippany Hills’ crowd by drilling the shot from the right side of the arc to make it 46-all with 1:41 left.

The teams exchanged possessions before the Vikings called time out with 46.2 seconds left and the ball under Whippany Park’s basket. The Wildcats needed to get the ball back without fouling.

“I didn’t want to take the pressure off of them,” Kleinbaum said. “I thought that if we played them straight up with pressure but not going for steals and keeping them centered, they couldn’t get by us.”

Parsippany Hills got the ball past mid-court under full-court pressure but struggled to get into an offensive set. Whippany Park got the ball back when Gaynor deflected a pass attempt that landed in Cahill’s hands with just over 20 seconds left.

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Parsippany Hills’ coach Mark Gibson encourages his team. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

“Gaynor got the tip and I was in help (defense),” Cahill said. “We were trying for an over play at the time and we were working hard for it.”

After a timeout, the Wildcats worked the ball around and found Michalewski with an open shot just inside the right side of the arc with time winding down. The team’s point guard fired and the shot fell short but it landed in Cahill’s hands while he was in the paint.

“Joe went up for the shot,” Cahill said. “I didn’t know how much time was left but I just knew it was going to be an air ball. I went after it and put it in.”

His perfect placement and quick reactions were no surprise to anyone on the Wildcats.

“Ryan played a lot as a sophomore,” Kleinbaum said. “He’s been with the varsity for three years. This is his first big minutes. He is a hard worker. He’s a captain. He just works. Because hard work leads to good things, every once in awhile he will be at the right place at the right time.”

After a time out, the Vikings had one final chance, but the long inbounds pass from behind the Wildcats basket was intercepted by Gaynor. Whippany Park had survived and hopefully learned some things that will help them later on.

“These are the kinds of wins — these close games — that sophomores get better from,” Kleinbaum said.

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Whippany Park coach Jeff Kleinbaum knows that playing with a sophomore laden team is not for the squeamish. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Local Results

Morris Hills 58, Dover 51

Dillon Washington scored 22 points and the Scarlet Knights took control with a 16-8 fourth quarter effort. Morris Hills is 4-7. Ryan Charyshyn scored 23 points for the Tigers.

Butler 57, Sussex Tech 41

Nick Ballistreri scored 21 points to pace the Bulldogs (3-5). A 20-13 spree in the fourth quarter secured Butler’s triumph.

West Morris 67, Morris Knolls 59, 2 OT

Conor Barron scored 29 points and grabbed six rebounds and Sam McClellan had 21 points and 16 rebounds in the Wolfpack triumph. Pat Gialanella also had nine points and 10 rebounds for West Morris. Ryan Bornemann and Carroll Rich scored 14 points apiece for the Golden Eagles.

Kinnelon 53, Lenape Valley 52

Zachary Moen scored 23 points to help the Colts rally to victory. A 21-12 fourth quarter run helped Kinnelon with the road triumph. Jaison Buchanan scored 10 points and Will Spreen had eight for Kinnelon (6-6).


About mcvbb

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

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