It was the Falcon boys first return to the Morris County tournament after last year’s heartbreaking loss to West Morris in the finals. This year, the Falcons earned a third seed and a bye in the first round, setting them up to play the under-seeded Morristown Beard Crimson. J-Town proved their value at the three seed with a commanding 63-38 win over the Crimson.
For Jefferson it was Mattie Johnson yet again leading the way for the Falcons. Johnson tallied 29 for the game which included a 14-point second quarter. J-Town also saw major contributions from Buddy Jacobus who recorded many defensive steals, Sean Whalen who dominated the rebounding category, Matt Moran who added 13 points, and David Hanna who played well and added major hustle plays and rebounds.
“Just play hard, play our game and defend well,” Jacobus said on the mindset heading into counties this year. “I knew it was a bigger game and was just a little more focused and locked in today.”
The Falcons got off to a slow start. The high-powered offense struggled to find their stroke early, as the Crimson hung around with the Falcons in the first quarter. Even with the struggles, Jefferson held on to a 13-10 lead heading into the second quarter.
J-Town cranked up the energy in the second. The Falcons came out with a 10-0 run against the Crimson, lead by Johnson’s 14 points and Whalen’s big rebounding quarter. With the momentum on Jefferson’s side and Johnson feeling his shot, the Falcons went into halftime leading by 17.
The story wouldn’t change from there. The Falcons continued to shoot lights out from the field as they closed out the game in a regular fashion to earn their next round match to face Roxbury in the Morris County semi-finals.
“They were a really tough 14 seed, so we knew we had to take it seriously today,” Johnson said.
After a 29-point breakout following his worst game of the year, the Johnson earned the player of the game, as the senior now cuts within 100 points of joining the 1,000-point club. Sitting at 906 points, Johnson is just 94 points from adding his name to the all-time list. “I just want to win,” Johnson said about approaching 1,000 points.
Although the Falcons take on Roxbury in the next game of the Morris County tournament, the Falcons play Morristown Beard again on Tuesday, and High Point on Thursday, prior to their Roxbury showdown on Saturday, February 15.