Dattolo is the glue that keeps Hanover Park together

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountyvarsityboysbasketball

As teams advance in tournament play and scouting reports become more focused on a team’s top players, often an athlete that might not be an obvious standout becomes crucial in helping his team succeed.

At Hanover Park John Crown and Brad Daugherty often carry the bulk of the attention, but teams that ignore Donny Dattolo, do so at their risk. The senior forward showed how important he could be on Saturday.

Dattolo scored 22 points including an important 3-point play late in the contest to lift eighth-seeded Hanover Park to a 67-61 victory over Mountain Lakes, a Cinderella No. 16 team. Dattolo’s performance included a traditional 3-point play with 47 seconds left to give his team a 65-59 edge that secured the win.

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Donny Dattolo, right, can cover players as big as Mountain Lakes’ Peyton Miller (Photo by Mark Kitchin).

His Hanover Park teammates know how important Dattolo is, but his play might be an eye opener to those that don’t see him regularly.

“He’s been the guy all year that has been the glue,” Hanover Park coach Todd Hartman said. “He doesn’t command the ball too much. We don’t have to run plays for him. Brad and John get a lot of attention. Donny has always been that third guy. On a lot of teams he can be more then a third guy. He has embraced that role. It was nice for him to have a night like this.”

Dattolo isn’t tall but is well-built and quicker than he appears. The senior, who transferred from Morristown-Beard as a sophomore, is great at rebounding and boxing out. When he decides to drive to the basket, he can be fearless. He’s also not afraid of the spotlight as the 3-point play attests.

“Crown found me on a great pass,” Dattolo said. “It was just a great look and I finished.”

His versatility as a defender is also important. Despite giving away some height, he matched up well with Mountain Lakes’ Peyton Miller and Jimmy Schicke and would eventually get them in foul trouble due to his agility.

“Donny has man strength — he really does,” Hartman said. “What I like about him — and I’ve had a couple of players like him in the past — is he’s versatile, I can play him on the wing, he can play a 3 (small forward), he can handle (the ball). He also has a very good post up game. If we need him to play there, he can cover bigs, he can cover littles.”

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Hanover Park’s Brad Daugherty scrambles for a rebound during MCT Quarterfinal round action. (Photo by Mark Kitchin).

Since the Mountain Lakes bigs were struggling, guards like Chris Boyhan and Mark DiIonno carried the bulk of the offense on Saturday. Boyhan in particular put on a show. The slippery senior guard scored 17 of his 30 points in the first half. For the Hornets to prevail, they had to hinder the dynamic 5-foot-8 guard’s scoring efforts.

“Early on we were so concerned with taking DiIonno out because he had killed us the first two games with leak outs,” Hartman said. “We were consumed with keeping him from getting leak outs. We did such a great job on that, that we were giving too much space to Boyhan.”

The risk Hanover Park took was keeping two players in the backcourt instead of one and not committing as many players to crashing the boards as they usually do.

“John (Bydook) is such a good coach,” Hartman said. “He always has a new wrinkle. We tried to take away the stuff we knew hurt us in the past. We were able to battle inside and take our share of the rebounds which being a smaller team we have to concentrate on.”

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Hanover Park’s Chris Fernicola (3) is in a wild scramble for the ball against the Lakers including Chris Boyhan (5) on right. (Photo by Mark Kitchin).

The Hornets did enough to prevail and believe that they can go much farther in the Morris County Tournament this season.

“In the beginning of the year we thought we could make it all the way,” Dattolo said. “It is still our goal. It’s not out of reach.”

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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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