After three rounds and 21 games, the Morris County Tournament is down to its final four teams.
The semifinals will be held on Saturday at the County College of Morris. First up at noon is third-seeded Chatham (16-5) and No. 7 Morristown (11-8). Fourth-seeded Mendham (14-5) will face No. 8 Hanover Park (17-6) at 1:30 p.m. or following a 20 minute warm-up.
A limited amount of tickets will be available for $5 and will go on sale at 11 a.m. One ticket is good for both semifinal games.
The Cougars are making their first apperance in the semis since the 2011-12 season in which they defeated Mount Olive 77-75 for their first MCT title since 2007 and second overall.
Chatham, which prides itself on playing a tough defensive game, is led by senior guard Graham Delaney (10 points per game) and junior forward Colin McKenna (over 12 ppg.). Freshman guard Jack Rooney (9.3 ppg.), junior guard Tristan LeMon (6.6 ppg.) and junior forward Stefan Goles (6.1 ppg.) have also been big contributors this year.
Rooney scored nine points when Chatham defeated Morristown 68-56 back on Jan. 16, but the Colonials have come a long way since then, having won eight of their last nine games since that defeat.
Morristown is making its third-straight appearance in the semifinals and fell to defending champion Mount Olive last year by two points in the final. The Colonials upset No. 2 Roxbury in the quarterfinals by playing tough defense and capitalizing on their opportunities, and they will need to keep that defense-oriented mindset against Chatham.
The Colonials are led by sophomore Kevin Hoehn (13.6 ppg.), senior Jack Mongey (14.3 ppg.) and junior Rohan Walker (13.7). Junior Collin Brunnock and sophomore Luke Haralampoudis have also been key contributors. Morristown also has an advantage in using the experience this team learned from last year’s MCT final run.
“The experience is really the advantage that we were able to take out of last year and going back to CCM is going to be a lot of fun,” Hoehn said.
“I think it helped us to know what we had to do, when we had to get stops and what we had to do defensively to get a good win and be successful,” Walker added.
In the second game of the evening, the Minutemen and the Hornets will meet for the second time this season. Mendham came away with a 70-65 victory at home on Jan. 16.
“Size is something that we’ve kind of gotten used to not having, so we feel like we let one get away from us, we were tied with a minute to go at their place and we just made some mental errors down the stretch in the last minute of that game and we ended up losing by a couple of points,” Hanover Park coach Todd Hartman said. “We kind of feel like some of the things that we do well, our guard play, our pace of play, our shooting, are things that work in our favor so if we can get the game 70s or 80s, we’ll see how it works out.”
The Hornets have scored at least 70 points a game 16 times this season and have scored 80 or more points 10 times, while the Minutemen have scored 70 points just once, in the win over Hanover Park.
Senior forward Brad Daugherty leads the Hornets with 17 points and 12.2 rebounds per game, while junior guard John Crown has chipped in 14.7 points and 7.6 assists per game. Junior forward Donny Dattolo has averaged 10.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game and sophomore guard Matt Winschuh is averaging 9.4 points per game.
Senior guard/forward Brian Kenez (11.6 ppg.) and senior forward Robert Annen (12.2 ppg.) lead the Minutemen in scoring but freshman forward Brad Bundschuh and senior guard Keith Hall have also been contributors on offense. Against No. 5 Montville in the quarterfinals, Mendham received a welcome offensive spark from junior guard Jamie Conklin, who hit two 3-pointers in the third quarter after the team hadn’t hit any in the first half.
While Mendham’s perimeter shooting as been somewhat lacking this season, its offense still has the ability to win games as long as the defense can get stops. Hanover Park has been an offensive powerhouse, so it will pretty much come down to who makes fewer mistakes.
“(We’re expecting) a tough game,” Dattolo said. “We lost to them by five last time and we’re going to get their best and we’re going to give them our best.”
1,000 point club
West Morris senior guard Conor Barron became the latest player to reach 1,000 points. He joined the club on Tuesday as the Wolfpack defeated Delbarton 59-53.
Barron became the seventh boys basketball player to reach the milestone and the first since James D’Angelo accomplished it in 2011. As of Thursday, Barron had 1,004 points heading into a game against Morris Catholic.
Hackettstown senior guard Jeremy DelValle scored his 1,000th career point on Feb. 12 during a 70-46 victory over North Warren. DelValle became the fifth player in the Tigers’ history to reach the milestone.
Next in line to join the club is Montville senior guard Jacob Kaplan, who was 16 points away as the Mustangs prepared to face the Green Wave on Thursday night.
Staff Writer Lauren Knego: 973-428-6674; email@example.com
1. Mount Olive…12-6
2. Chatham …16-5
3. Mendham …14-5
4. Roxbury …14-5
5. Hanover Park …17-6
6. Morristown …11-8
7. Montville …14-5
8. Pequannock …13-7
10. Morristown-Beard …14-7
Records through Wednesday.