Mount Olive and Morristown will compete for the Morris County Tournament title when the two teams meet up next Saturday at County College of Morris in Randolph.
It will be the third consecutive title game for the defending champion Marauders. Mount Olive vanquished fourth-seeded Mendham 62-40 behind the 22-point performance of Rashaan Spencer.
Third seeded Morristown topped previously unbeaten and second-seeded Jefferson 76-52. The Colonials return to the title game for the first time since 2002. Sean Hoehn scored 32 points for Morristown (18-1).
Morristown 76, Jefferson 52
Nick Duffy added 12 points to help the Colonials improved to 18-1 and advance one step farther than it did in last year’s tournament. Chris Telman scored 17 points and Tyler Jones and Joe Rossi pumped in 10 points apiece. The Falcons (21-1) were one of three unbeaten teams in the state that suffered losses in their tournament game. It was the first time Jefferson advanced to the MCT semifinals in 39 years.
Morristown lead 18-11 at the end of the first quarter with the help of 10 points by Hoehn. The Colonials were able to build a 36-23 advantage at the half and secured the victory with a 21-11 performance in the third quarter.
“Having a game like this in the semifinals of the county tournament is an awesome feeling,” Hoehn said. “Coach Connelly stresses at every practice to take the hit and finish at the front of the rim. We practice it every single day and if we get the free throws down things turn out well.”
Mount Olive 62, Mendham 40
Senior center Zach Heeman added 11 points and Donte Wise had nine for the Marauders (19-3). Jack Horan scored 14 points and Joe Lamberto contributed nine points for the Minutemen (14-8).
Mendham did its best to slow down the tempo and was patient in creating offense but Mount Olive’s marksmanship and its ability to build an early lead made it difficult for the Minutemen to keep pace.
“They were the first team to do that to us,” Mount Olive coach Kevin Moore said. “At halftime we shifted our focus back to the front court. We went back to doing the things that we do well. We applied more pressure and made them commit full court rather than playing their game.”
Mount Olive’s Rashaan Spencer scored 14 first-quarter points in Saturday’s MCT contest. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)
Spencer scored 14 first-half points to help the Marauders build a 22-13 first-quarter advantage. The Minutemen kept within a single-digit margin at halftime but Mount Olive regrouped at halftime. An 18-13 third-quarter performance gave the Marauders an advantage that their determined opponents could not rally from.
“It’s a great feeling,” Heeman said about returning to the title game. “We put in a lot of work. To go for another championship is a great feeling.”