Mount Olive advances back to MCT final

Mount Olive advances back to MCT final

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Mount Olive advances back to MCT final

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RANDOLPH

With 17.3 seconds to go, junior forward Ryan Traub scored the winning basket to lead the second-seeded Mount Olive boys basketball team over No. 3 Morristown 62-60 in the Morris County Tournament semifinals on Saturday at the County College of Morris.

The Marauders (19-4) return to the final against the winner of No. 1 Chatham and No. 12 Randolph. Mount Olive lost to Chatham last year in the final 77-75. Saturday marked the first time in 10 years that Morristown had advanced to a MCT semifinal.

“Our mindset was to do what we always do, try to run on them,” Mount Olive junior center Zach Heeman said. “We really knew (Sean) Hoehn was a solid sport and he still did a great job, we tried to contain him somewhat and play our game.”

Morristown (15-6) opened the fourth quarter with a 55-47 lead, but Mount Olive went on a 7-0 run to get within 55-54 with 5 minutes, 58 seconds left. Senior guard Naeem Pierce made both free throws to put Morristown up 57-54, but four straight points from the Marauders gave Mount Olive the 58-57 lead with 2:22 left.

A basket by senior guard Steve Leonardo put Mount Olive up 60-57, but junior guard Hoehn hit a 3 with 41.8 seconds left to tie the game 60-60.

It was a tight game from the start as Hoehn scored nine points in the first quarter as Morristown took a 15-14 lead after one. Mount Olive had a 30-27 lead at the half and the Colonials tied the game 30-30 on a 3-pointer by Hoehn to open the third quarter. From there the Marauders went on a 7-0 run to take a 37-30 lead with 4:45 to go.

Morristown managed to chip away at the Marauders’ lead and took control of the game on two free throws by Hoehn to take a 44-43 lead with 2:04 left in the quarter. The Colonials then went on a 7-0 run of their own to go up 51-43 with 1:13 left and Morristown held a 53-47 lead after three quarters.

“I think it was a combination of us not doing the best job offensive rebounding and us not getting back at the same time so that equation led to easy layups,” Heeman said of the Colonials taking the lead. “They weren’t even looking for layups, just easy shots.”

Hoehn scored a game-high 28 points for the Colonials. Senior guard Ryan Brunnock chipped in with 13 points and Pierce contributed eight points.

For the Marauders, Heeman scored 19 points, including his first two 3-pointers of the season. Traub and junior guard Rashaan Spencer each scored 12 points.

“I’m extremely proud of our guys, they really battled, I’m proud to be their coach,” Morristown caoch Bill Connolly said. “I know there’s a very good group of guys in there and I’m proud of the effort and they’re willing to follow what we’re trying to do, they prepared hard for it, not only the last four days but all year.”

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