By Mark Kitchin
The last time Randolph was in the Morris County Tournament finals the current players on the team were second graders or even younger.
Although the current Rams may be novices to tournament play, they didn’t act like it last Saturday.
Randolph, the second-seed, handled third-seeded Morris Catholic 75-57 in the opening game of the doubleheader played at County College of Morris. The Rams move on to play top-seeded Chatham, a 69-61 winner over Hanover Park in the nightcap. That game is this Saturday at 7 p.m. also at County College of Morris in Randolph.
Tremendous balance on offense and consistent defense helped Randolph advance. The Rams are a deep and resourceful team. On offense they give opposing teams fits because of their balance and multitude of weapons.
“Seven different guys have led us in scoring this season,” Randolph coach Matt Tighe said. “It’s always somebody different. As long as the ball moves, nobody seems to care who that is.”
On Saturday, Julian Boykins scored 19 points and Luke Nathan and Andrew Sciancalepore scored 16 apiece for Randolph.
Nathan’s points may have been the biggest for the Rams. As an inside offensive threat, he always kept Morris Catholic Amir Allen working on both ends of the court.
“Luke offensively was great and Amir had a lot of trouble covering him,” Tighe said. “That was the big thing. That and I thought we did run nine guys. Luke did a great job on offense. We figured if we give up 28 (with Allen) we had to hope the other guys didn’t score another 30 or 40.”
Allen, the Morris Catholic standout was a handful, but with the exception of guard Jordan Spencer, none of the other Crusaders contributed much to the offense.
“He’s a great player and great players make shots and we still limited him,” Randolph senior guard Julian Boykins said. “He could have had more but he didn’t. We boxed him out, we practiced a lot of cheating up. We stayed on him so he couldn’t get over the top and it worked.”
Randolph’s depth helped against Allen. The Rams players Mike Sasso, Zak Durbin and Sciancalepore) switched off and gave Allen different looks. Much of his scoring came in the fourth quarter when Randolph had a commanding lead.
“It was more physical,” Tighe said. “Mike Sasso was a bull. He is all muscle and he loves to mix it up so our feeling was that we thought we could wear him out throughout the course of the game. We put fresh bodies on him.”
It will be difficult against Chatham. A team with arguably as much size and balance as Randolph. The Cougars were last year’s finalists and are looking to atone for their loss to Mendham in the title game. Matchups will be fun to watch and the tempo of the game will also be of interest since both squads are flexible in their pace of play.