By Mark Kitchin
DENVILLE — All for one and one for all.
It worked for the Three Musketeers. It works for Scarlet Knights, too.
Morris Hills showed balance on offense and a scrambling effort on defense and on the boards in an opening night 48-35 victory against sister school Morris Knolls on Friday.
Chris Carabello and Ryan Kittell scored 10 points apiece for the Scarlet Knights. Morris Hills rallied from a 27-21 third-quarter deficit. The Scarlet Knights led 31-27 going into the fourth quarter and used their patience and scrappy defense to build double-digit advantage in the final period.
“It was a matter of players making plays and guys made some plays,” Morris Hills coach Andrew McClay said.”As a coach it is a beautiful thing to have a game plan and have them execute it.”
Morris Hills’ Chris Carabello puts up a shot in traffic during first half action on Friday. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)
Getting a win against the district rival was no small accomplishment for the Scarlet Knights. It was Morris Hills first win in the series since January of 2010, The Scarlet Knights had beaten the Golden Eagles only three times in their last 10 meetings. After the game, the excited shouts of the Morris Hills players could be heard beyond the locker room walls.
“It feels great,” Carabello said. “Everyone worked hard and played together. It was a team victory.”
Morris Hills was concerned about the scoring ability of Morris Knolls standout Michael Chapman but he was held to eight points including a pair of fourth-quarter free throws.
“We knew before the game that Chapman was a guy we needed to stop,” McClay said. “He torched us the last couple of years. I challenged Dayman Fleming at being all over him and he came in and did a great job.
“I put Anthony (Leoce) in to give us some offense.
He’s a good shooter. It didn’t fall for him tonight. We thought it might be a bit of a mismatch with Chapman against Leoce but he did a great job — a great job.”
Neither team generated a lot of offense.
Morris Knolls used full court pressure on the Morris Hills guards to try and generate turnovers but the Scarlet Knights handled the ball well.
Morris Hills led 9-7 at the end of the first quarter while Morris Knolls took a 20-17 edge at the half.
The Golden Eagles led 27-21 at the six-minute mark of the third quarter but then went cold. Morris Hills finished the period with a 10-0 run. The Golden Eagles missed their last eight shots as the Scarlet Knights built a 31-27 advantage.
Now with the lead, Morris Hills played smart, patient basketball. They spread the half court and looked for scoring opportunities while the Golden Eagles saw the time slowly tick away.
“We really talked about sharing the basketball,” McClay said. “Passing up a good shot for a great shot. We talked about hitting the open man and making it easy on yourself. They did that tonight. It makes the game easy when you have got guys that move the basketball and want the basketball. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Scores by Carabello, Derrien Coley and Eric Look helped Morris Hills build a 37-27 edge with five minutes left. After that the Scarlet Knights took care of the ball and hit their free throws. They hit 7 of 11 which was enough to maintain a double-digit edge the rest of the way.