By Mark Kitchin
It’s not easy for vertically challenged basketball teams to succeed. When a varsity team’s starting players have to stand on tip toes to reach the 6-foot mark, the chance for grabbing rebounds and scoring points in the paint are minimal.
These teams have to find other ways to score and defend. At Morristown High where last year’s graduating class took all of its height with them, the Colonials (4-6) have succeeded at times with plenty of scrap on the defensive end and their ability to shoot threes on offense.
A perfect example was Morristown’s 68-60 win over Randolph last Wednesday. The Rams were a team with a decided height advantage but the Colonials game plan cut them down to size.
“We just try to play solid defensively and make other teams make hard shots,” Morristown coach William Connolly said. “I felt coming out there in the third quarter we were able to do that which allowed us to put together a bit of a (7-0) run on the offensive end.”
Morristown may not come out and admit it but the team’s ability to shoot threes plays a big role. The Colonials average making eight 3-point shots a game, which usually accounts for more than a third of their points. They are judicious in their shot selection and usually square up well and take good shots from behind the arc. When they miss they have a better chance of getting long rebounds over their taller opponents.
Morristown boys basketball is getting used to defending much taller opponents. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)
“Kevin (Hoehn) is our point guard and he does a really good job of getting everyone else open,” teammate Colin Brunnock said. “He draws defenders and were fortunate to make shots because he does a great job of passing it to us. We try to get to the rim as well as shoot threes. Whatever the defense does to us and however we get open shots.”
On Wednesday, the Colonials were exceptional in transition. They rebound by committee and once the ball is secure, they are intent on pushing it to the basket. They are speedy and scrappy and love to drive to the basket on the break. Beating taller and slower players is another way to negate the height advantage.
Jack Mongey (3) has taken on a leadership role with the Colonials. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)
They also have a good leader in Jack Mongey. The only returning senior to log major minutes on last year’s standout team, the Colonals seem to share the mentality of their scrappy captain.
“Jack is a tremendous leader,” Connolly said. “He has big on the court experience from last year. He does a really good job as a leader. We feel he has a good basketball skill set — a good basketball IQ. He has the will to win. He prepares like a winner. That mentality is starting to rub off on more and more guys on this year’s team.”
Morristown’s Rohan Walker (23) often gives his teammates a big lift. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)
Morristown also gets good minutes from Rohan Walker, a player who saw minimal time last year but is fearless in driving to the basket.
“Rohan is just an awesome kid,” Mongey said. “He’s a great worker, very coachable. He is a big force on our offense. He’s just an all-around good player for us.”
Getting wins won’t be easy for the Colonials but they know who they are and what they have to do. The trick is getting it done.
“We just keep executing the game plan,” Brunnock said. “If we go out there and do what coach tells us, we should be good.”