Graham LeMon scored 22 points and Chatham successfully defended last year’s Morris County Tournament title with 60-55 victory over Morristown-Beard on Saturday at County College of Morris.
Jack Rooney scored 16 points including nine in a fourth quarter in which the Cougars held the advantage but couldn’t shake the top-seeded Crimson.
The title is Chatham’s third in six years and fourth overall. The Cougars have captured titles in 2007, 2012 and 2016.
Justin Rodriguez scored 22 points for Morristown-Beard which was attempting to win the first MCT boys basketball title in school history. Ralphael Castillo had 14 points and Zach Dees added 11 for the Crimson (23-4).
Morristown-Beard had a chance to tie the game with 6.3 seconds remaining. Chatham led 58-55 but an attempted pass was picked up by Cougars reserve Chris Conlin with a second left. Conlin knocked down a pair of free throws to secure the victory.
LeMon earned MVP honors. The 6-foot-6 senior center was difficult to stop in the paint. Often he outmuscled smaller Crimson defenders in the paint for layups and putbacks. His presence under the rim opened up perimeter scoring opportunities for Rooney and Mac Bredahl.
The contest was close throughout. Morristown-Beard led 29-25 at the half. The Crimson held the lead most of the third quarter. Its last lead came on a pair of free throws by Dees with a little over a minute left in the period to make it 41-39. A layup
by Chatham’s John Burkard tied it at 41 before the period ended.
The Cougars Mac Bredahl and Crimson’s Rodriguez exchanged 3-point scores early in the fourth quarter. A LeMon layup and Rooney jumper made it 48-44 with 3:54 left in the game. Although the Crimson challenged the Cougars several times, Chatham always held the advantage.
The All-Tournament team included Rooney and Bredahl for Chatham and Castillo, Rodriguez and Brian Monaghan for Morristown-Beard.