Despite a strong comeback by Parsippany late in the game, the Morris Hills boys basketball team held on for a 65-59 victory on Saturday.
The Red Hawks (0-6) outscored the Scarlet Knights 24-18 in the fourth quarter, thanks to 13 points from senior guard Leonard Lee, but clutch free throw shooting down the stretch kept Morris Hills (2-6) ahead.
“Down the stretch making foul shots, we’ve been awful from the foul line all year,” Morris Hills junior guard Matt Toohey said of his team, which went 18-for-30 from the line. “But Billy Morin stepped up real big for us, knocked down a bunch of foul shots, Austin Staikos stepped up made a bunch of foul shots, Dillon (Washington) stepped up, made a bunch of foul shots, it was big.”
After the first quarter Morris Hills led 19-7, and a number of missed free throws, the Red Hawks sank 9 of 23, doomed Parsippany early. But the Scarlet Knights went cold to start the second quarter and the Red Hawks went on a 11-2 run and clawed back to within 21-18 with 3 minutes 55 seconds left. Morris Hills finished the quarter on a 6-2 run to take a 27-20 lead at the half.
“We started getting in foul trouble, we had a lot of fouls in the first half, and they went to the foul line and that’s what I feel like really kept them in the ball game,” Toohey said. “A couple of our players had to come in and out, sit most of the first half, and we just struggled to get going in that second quarter.”
Washington opened the third quarter with four quick points to put the Scarlet Knights up 31-20 and Parsippany spent much of the quarter trying to catch up again. The Red Hawks got within six, 35-29 with 5:12 left on a steal and a layup by junior forward Hayden Cerrato, but Morris Hills went on an 11-0 run to pull away, 46-29 with 2:33 left. Parsippany then went on a 6-1 run of its own and pulled within 47-35 at the end of three.
“I think working the ball into the post, and pushing the ball up the floor was working well for us,” Washington said.
Lee got the Red Hawks back within five, 52-47, on a 3-pointer with 3:08 to play, but six-straight free throws by the Scarlet Knights kept Parsippany at bay, 58-50, with 1:07 left. A 3-point play by Lee brought Parsippany back within five, 58-53, but Morris Hills sank six more free throws and junior guard Matt Toohey had a basket down the stretch to stay ahead.
Lee and junior forward Ryan Orr Lee each hit a 3-pointer with seconds remaining for Parsippany, but it wasn’t enough.
Lee led all scorers with 26 points. Cerrato had 10 and Orr chipped in nine. Washington led Morris Hills with 17 points. Toohey and senior forward Joey Natale, who sank three 3s, each had 14 points.
“We struggled a little bit in a couple of spots but we stepped up when we needed to,” Toohey said. “It wasn’t bad but we definitely need to improve off of this, keep going in the right direction. It’s definitely a step in the right direction.”