Spencer’s shot gives Mount Olive second MCT title

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountyvarsityboysbasketball

RANDOLPH — Mount Olive’s Rashaan Spencer has taken thousands of shots over the summer months and thousands more during the basketball season. But he never hit a shot quite like the one he put in Saturday night at the Morris County Tournament final — it earned the Marauders another title.

Spencer put in his own miss during a wild scramble with :0.9 seconds left in regulation to give Mount Olive a 75-73 victory over Morristown in a thrilling MCT title game in front of a full house at County College of Morris.

Spencer scored 36 points and earned tournament Most Valuable Player honors to help the Marauders repeat as champions. Senior center Zach Heeman added 20 points for Mount Olive, which was the top seed in the tournament.

Senior guard Sean Hoehn scored 23 points and Nick Duff had 20 points for the third-seeded Colonials, who were trying to earn their first county title since 2002. Sophomore Jack Mongey contributed 17 points including a 3-pointer with nine seconds left to tie the game at 73. That set the stage for Spencer’s heroics.

“It was a first for me,” Spencer said about the game-winning shot. “It feels great. It feels good to bring it home for the town.

“I knew when they made the (3-point) shot they weren’t going to get back on defense,” Spencer said. “When we inbounded the ball I knew I was going to have a chance to score. It just happened that the ball went back into my hands after I missed the first layup.”

56 bb mct finalMorristown’s Sean Hoehn tries to drive past Mount Olive’s Zach Heeman during first half action. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Mount Olive’s senior guard was relentless in his slashing drives to the rim. He scored 10 of the Marauders 18 fourth-quarter points. It seemed as if Spencer was in a competition with Hoehn to see who was the best at driving to the basket and creating scoring opportunities.

“I just knew that I was going against another top scorer,” Spencer said. “I wanted to show him that I’m at the top of the county, too.”

The Marauders expected it to be a difficult contest, especially when it came to containing Hoehn. The counties leading scorer took on two or sometimes three Mount Olive players on his tireless drives.

“We wanted to keep fresh legs on him the whole time,” Heeman said. “We wanted to get physical with him on offense and defense, hit him with some screens and make his arms a little tired.”

25 bb mct finalMount Olive’s Rashaan Spencer scored 36 points including the winning basket to earn MVP honors on Saturday. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

In style and excitement the game was more reminiscent of Mount Olive’s 77-75 loss to Chatham in the 2012 final than last year’s 67-54 win over Chatham that gave Mount Olive its first boys basketball MCT title. The near capacity CCM crowd was buzzing after every 3-point blast or tantalizing drive. It was easily the best game of this year’s tournament.

The Marauders received what looked like a bad omen to start the game when their bus broke down in the school parking lot. The team’s seniors drove their teammates to the game by carpool. They hit the court about 40 minutes before game time which was enough time to warm up and get ready for the game.

Morristown was ready for them. The Colonials made no effort to slow the tempo down and impressed everyone with their perimeter shooting prowess and tenacious defensive effort. The Colonials were up by 10 at one point and led 46-40 at the half but the Marauders were confident in their ability to bounce back.

81 bb mct finalMount Olive’s Zach Heeman is overcome with emotion while hoisting the winning trophy. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Mount Olive took charge in the third quarter and outscored Morristown 17-6 to take a 57-52 advantage going into the fourth quarter. The final period featured four ties and two lead changes including the frenetic fourth quarter which ended on Spencer’s winning shot.

“We were prepared for end game situations,” Mount Olive coach Kevin Moore said. “We knew it was No. 1 against No. 2. There was a small difference between us. They were not going to lay down. We have Rashaan Spencer and he’s a heckuva player.”

100 bb mct finalThe Marauders put up two fingers signifying the winning of a second consecutive MCT title. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

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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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