MCT Boys Semifinal preview

By Mark Kitchin


Morris County Tournament semifinal preview

 The top seeds held up through Thursday’s quarterfinal round of Morris County Tournament play. Now the Final Four travel to Madisonto determine which teams will compete in the title game which is scheduled for Tuesday night at FDU-Florham.Third-seeded MountainLakes will play second-seeded Chatham in the opening game at 2 p.m. That will be followed by a 4 p.m. encounter between fourth-seeded Morristown and top-ranked Delbarton. 

 Chatham vs. Mountain Lakes –When the teams were seeded for the tournament both the Cougars and the Lakers finished in a tie and the coaches had a runoff vote to determine the position. So, even the county coaches expect this game to be a close one. The Cougars pounded upstart seventh seeded Mount Olive early on in the quarterfinal round game.Chatham built a 12-1 halftime lead and cruised to a 14-6 triumph behind Nick Guida’s four goals.

The Cougars have offensive firepower. Guida, Jack Eisenreich and Matt Proto are terrific shooters and have been great this year at moving the ball around in the offensive end. TheChathamdefense is improving with John Radigan and Tom Stephen among its leaders. Overall, the team has good quality depth. The Chatham program has been building for some time. It has never been able to overcome the Lakers although they have had some monumental battles while trying. The Chathamprogram has also never competed in an MCT final so breaking that barrier would be quite a milestone to reach.

Mountain Lakes is comfortable on the big stage and determined to get back to the title game. Last year the Lakers suffered a controversial loss against Kinnelon on a disputed goal in the final seconds. Offensively, MountainLakesgets a little bit better everyday. Attackman Bill Burgoyne had two goals and one assist in the team’s 9-4 triumph over sixth-seeded Mendham. The Lakers pulled away from a credible opponent with a 5-0 run in the second half to take a 7-1 halftime advantage.MountainLakesis on a roll and may be rounding into tournament form.

“Our shooting got better, and we tightened up on our defense,’’ Mountain Lakes’ goalkeeper Andrew Bolland said after the Mendham contest. “In the two games we lost, (Ridgewoodand Don Bosco Prep) we played some pretty bad defense. The other teams got inside looks on us, so we tightened that up today,’’

Midfielders Greg Cuccinello, Tim LaBeau and Dylan Muti are the heart of a team that also has talent on the defense and a stingy goalkeeper in Bolland.

Morristown vs. Delbarton – The fourth-seeded Colonials have earned the opportunity to be in the semifinals. Coach Jeff Bigas has done a masterful job of lifting the once moribund program from a 2-17 mark five years ago to 11-0 so far this season. The Colonials have regained a sense of pride, and seem to work especially hard since they started playing home games on the high school’s turf football field and are not hidden behind the Frelinghuysen Middle School any longer. Morristown entered the semis in dramatic fashion by edging Kinnelon 4-3 in overtime on Thursday.

The Colonials are a defensive-minded squad. They get great performances by Alec Schunk, Mat Drake, David Levine and Mike Norton on defense. Goalkeeper Gordie Pierce steps up in the biggest games. Stephen DeLargy connected for the overtime goal and seems to be the team’s most dangerous offensive weapon. Morristownalso gets scoring from the Goss brothers, Doug and Kyle and Brad Hersh. Kurt Sittman has stepped up on the draw for the Colonials. They are anxious to meet their cross-town rivals from just down the road.

Top-seeded Delbarton has been rock steady all year. They still haven’t lost to a New Jersey team this season. The Green Wave overcomes most opponents with tremendous quality depth. When other teams begin to tire, they have fresh legs. John Shaffer scored three goals and Alex Heaton had two goals in Delbarton’s 9-4 triumph over Madison in quarterfinal round play on Thursday. Clay Haarmann and Jack Malloy are go-to scorers and Jamie White and Jack Clarke are among the best of the Green Wave ballhawks. Jack Breit, Michael Bicknese and Spence Huston are long sticks to watch and basketball standout Dean Brierley is coming on as a defensive middie. John Schisler mans the pipes for Delbarton.

Note: Jon Lesnik contributed to the preview.


About mcvbb

Mark Kitchin is a boys varsity basketball writer for the Morris County New Jersey area

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