By Mark Kitchin
Colin Brunnock’s 3-point play gave Morristown the lead and the Colonials never looked back in a 50-44 triumph over Randolph in a North 1, Group IV boys basketball semifinal upset on Saturday in front of a packed house at the Randolph gym.
Kevin Hoehn scored 15 points to pace sixth-seeded Morristown. Joshua Szott added 12 for the Colonials (19-7). They will play Hackensack, a 75-71 winner over Union City, in the title game on Monday. It will be the first time since 1973 that Morristown has played in a sectional final.
Julian Boykins had eight points and Chris Cheng had seven points for the second-seeded Rams. The Morris County Tournament finalists finished their season at 21-7.
Morristown’s Colin Brunnock goes up for two points in Saturday’s state tournament semifinal. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)
“I’m just so excited right now I don’t’ even know what to think,” Brunnock said. “The whole game we did a good job keeping our composure. That was a big key coming into tonight.”
It was Brunnock, a senior guard who finished with nine points, that put the Colonials ahead with 1:39 in the fourth quarter. The game was tied at 42-all. Morristown worked the ball for a lengthy possession and Brunnock drove the ball to the right side and scooped it for a layup just as he was fouled by Boykins. He knocked down his free throw to make it a 3-point game.
“We were in the spread and he got a lane to drive in,” Morristown coach Bill Connolly said. “He is a three year varsity player. He’s worked tremendously hard at it. He got a drive and finished. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
The play excited the crowd and thrilled his teammates but Brunnock kept in focus.
“We do all those moves in practice,” Brunnock said. “I got the ball to the rim and I really didn’t think much about it.”
Morristown’s Luke Haralampoudis gets a shot off before Randolph’s Luke Nathan has a chance to swat it away. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)
With the exception of an Ahsan Huland-El layup in the final seconds of play, the Rams didn’t hit another shot from that moment on and the Colonials sealed the win from the free throw line. Hoehn knocked down a pair and Luke Haralampoudis hit 3 of 4 from the line to secure the Colonials upset win.
Randolph led 14-9 at the end of the first quarter and 23-20 at the half. Overall, the Colonials did a good job of rebounding against the taller Rams and did not let Randolph’s 6-foot-9 center Luke Nathan cause problems. He was in foul trouble all game and finished with four points.
“He’s a very good player,” Connolly said. “We saw him throughout the course of the season. We had a defensive plan to limit his ability and limit his impact on the game. We were effective with that at times and it helped us during the game.”
There was one lead change and three ties in a close third quarter. Morristown led 35-32 but Boykins put up a one-handed 3-point effort from just over half court that drew net and brought the home Randolph crowd to its feet. However, Morristown didn’t let the shot change the momentum.
“We all had to do our parts,” Hoehn said. “We had to take it possession by possession. Everybody contributed and we got energy off the bench.”
There were three ties and two lead changes to start the fourth quarter. After Brunnock’s score the Colonials defended well and hit their free throws in order to keep the season alive.