Chatham boys’ basketball Head Coach Todd Ervin came up one victory short of 500 for his career during the 2019-20 season. So, one would think it would come the next year, but Ervin took a sabbatical due to the pandemic.
Therefore, he had to wait. But after the Cougars (1-2) outlasted New Providence, 69-60, last night at the Cougar Classic at home, the wait is over for the coach who is in his 31st year at the helm.
“I’m just so happy it’s over,” Ervin said of reaching the 500th milestone. “We played well tonight, especially offensively. Defensively, it wasn’t that great. We made a lot of mistakes.”
Junior Ryan Leskauskas nailed six three-pointers to match a career-high 24 points while senior Cam Rooney finished with 21, sinking 17 straight free throws. Junior Tim Platek contributed 12 in the win.
Ervin praised his two top scores for their clutch performances, along with the team. But said his big man has to do what he did Monday night in order for Chatham move the needle in the right direction.
“Cam was ridiculous from the line,” Ervin said. “And he did a great job. Handled the ball, got fouled, and made his free throws. Ryan played well; Cam played well. I thought everyone played pretty well. Ryan has to play well for us to do well.”
Chatham fell behind 17-13 in the first quarter. But the Cougars shot their way back into the game behind eight points from Leskauskas in the second period, to give the home team a 32-28 lead at the half.
Chatham’s 20-13 third quarter, ignited by Platek’s nine points, helped to swell its advantage on the Pioneers for a 52-41 lead.
In the fourth period, New Providence (1-3) picked the wrong player to foul, as Rooney connected on 13-14 from the charity stripe while Leskauskas made four of four foul shots.
Rooney sank free throw after free throw, as if he had ice water coursing through his veins. But he did miss one, chalking it up to being human. More importantly, Rooney said he was just glad the Cougars picked up the W.
“I was on a good streak,” Rooney said. “My teammates were getting me the ball, which was kind of our game plan, to put me of the foul line. I guess it was bound to happen, but I’m just glad we got the win.”
Nick Bisaccia led the Pioneers with 23 points
An alumnus of Chatham and its basketball team, Ervin’s record currently sits at 500-264.
The Cougars host Cranford today at 5:00 p.m. in their second tilt of the tournament.
— Jerry Del Priore