Morris County hoops honors their standouts

By Mark Kitchin


MOUNTAIN LAKES — Have lunch with your peers, go home, meet some friends and watch some college basketball on the tube then go and play one final time with an appreciative crowd to cheer you on — oh and pick up some hardware, too.

Sounds like a perfect day for Morristown’s Sean Hoehn, but it was basically a great way to wind up a varsity career.

Hoehn picked up his Player of the Year plaque and joined 15 of his peers in being honored at the Morris County Boys Basketball Coaches Association annual luncheon at Zeris Inn on Thursday.

Morristown Coach Bill Connolly was given his Coach of the Year award. The All-Morris County team included 14 seniors. Many of them will be competing in the Morris-Sussex Senior All-Star Classic being played at Mount Olive High School at 7 p.m. tonight.

Hoehn seemed humbled by the honor but he certainly deserved it. The 6-foot-3 athlete finished as the leading scorer in Morris County with a 26-points per game average but as the team’s point guard also became an important distributor of the ball. He scored 23 points in the Morris County Tournament final and also had a 37-point performance including eight 3-pointers in Morristown’s loss to Irvington in opening round state tournament play. He also passed the 1,000-point scoring mark in his varsity career with the Colonials.

“It’s awesome seeing all these great players in one room,” Hoehn said. “It’s a great feeling knowing that all the hard work paid off.”

In many ways the year seemed like a blur to him. Despite the quick ending of the season with back-to-back losses, the Colonials have a lot of good things to remember. He admitted that it might take a little while before Hoehn can fully appreciate all that happened this winter.

“I tried but it’s just not sinking in yet,” Hoehn said. “Maybe when school is over and I’m playing basketball just for fun that’s when I think it will sink in. I tried to look back on all the great accomplishments that we had, all the wins we had and the individual accomplishments I had. When I think about it I smile but it hasn’t really sunk in that it was our last ride and that we really did something special that changed Morristown’s program.”

Hoehn was pleased that his coach for the last three seasons received recognition for his efforts.

“It’s amazing how much time he has put into the team to make us get better,” Hoehn said. “He spends so much time working with us individually and scouting the other team. Everything he has to do for us to win, he is doing it. It’s pretty sweet. He got a team with five wins my freshman year to 20 wins. I don’t know many coaches that can do that.”

Connolly was humbled by the honor but like most coaches he gives full credit to the Colonials athletes.

“With the amount of excellent coaches there are in the county, it feels nice but this is really an award for our players and for our team,” Connolly said. “We had really good players and a good team, it was because of them that the coaches decided on this (award).”

Connolly was happy with the improvement of his entire team, not just Hoehn.

“They (eight seniors and Jack Mongey) are so coachable and their basketball IQ is just so high,” Connolly said. “This year was a culmination of all their efforts since I met them three years ago. I think that with their influence on the young guys I hope that the (underclassmen) learned a lot from them and they carry forward what’s been built over the last couple of years.”

It was the first ceremony hosted by new association president and Roxbury basketball coach Jon Deeb. He replaces Delbarton’s Dan Whalen after a 15-year reign. It was a briskly paced affair in which the coaches gave some insights about their players or basketball in general. Each coach talked for a few minutes about an honored player and shared stories of toughness, determination or leadership that set them apart from their teammates.

A few more memorable lines included Mount Olive coach Kevin Moore comparing the Marauders’ Ryan Traub as a sophomore to a newborn giraffe in a National Georgraphic special. Traub has developed from initial awkwardness into a recruited player who will compete for Susquehanna College next season. Before Morris Knolls Ken Ferrare talked about Carroll Rich, he mentioned of a time his six-year-old son woke him from a sound sleep to ask him if the Golden Eagles have to play Mount Olive again. Hanover Park’s Todd Hartman talked about how his former CCM coach Jack Martin always talked about true point guards eating last and how he appreciated the ability of the Hornets’ Nick Burbella to distribute the ball to his teammates.

Some of this year’s standouts have already made college decisions. Heeman (Rutgers) and Mendham’s Jack Horan (Bucknell) will be playing football. West Morris’ Sam McClellan and Randolph’s Mike Talbert will be teammates at Muhlenberg. Mount Olive’s Rashaan Spencer is headed for Centenary College in Hackettstown.

All-Morris County Team

Player of the Year: Sean Hoehn – Morristown

Coach of the Year: Bill Connolly – Morristown


First team

Sean Hoehn – Morristown – Senior

Zach Heeman – Mount Olive – Senior

Rashaan Spencer – Mount Olive – Senior

Jack Horan – Mendham – Senior

Bryan Langan – Jefferson – Senior

Sam McClellan – West Morris – Senior


Second team

Mike Talbert – Randolph – Senior

Nick Duff – Morristown – Senior

Tyler Jones – Jefferson – Senior

Sami Asani – Boonton – Junior

Ryan Traub – Mount Olive – Senior


Third team

Alex Jacobs – Mendham – Senior

Carroll Rich – Morris Knolls – Senior

Nick Burbella – Hanover Park – Senior

Wayne Patterson – Morris Catholic – Sophomore

Barry Lynch – Randolph – Senior


About mcvbb

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

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