By Sam Wilson
One doesn’t necessarily consider defense a factor when looking at a 104-99 final score in a high school basketball game.
But the Big 30 Basketball Senior Classic is no ordinary game setting, so New York boys coach Mike Ruether on Sunday, will take holding the Pennsylvania seniors to 99. It’s actually a 30-point improvement from last year, when Pennsy took a 129-90 final score in the third annual Classic in a game that saw 33 total three-pointers.
The senior hoops teams made fewer treys this year (27 total), but still flashed their abilities in a tighter contest, as Ellicottville guard Austin Grinols and center Elliot Bowen scored 16 points each in pacing a balanced New York effort.
Nathan Schneider of St. Mary’s led all scorers with 22 points for Pennsylvania. Ryan Newton (Elk County Catholic) added 13, Adam Shaffer (Cameron County) scored 10 and Johnny Mitchell (Ridgway) marked six rebounds.
“More than what the score indicates,” Ruether said of his team’s effort on defense. “I didn’t think we did a nice job on the offensive glass, that’s where we struggled the most, but there was a lot of effort. You saw kids hitting the floor, going for loose balls. I didn’t think it was the normal all-star game where kids were getting out of the way, letting people dunk the ball. It didn’t get out of hand. It was a a darn good basketball game and when I looked up at the score I was amazed it was so high.”
Bowen led New York with seven rebounds.
Grinols (three assists, three steals) hit five three-pointers in his 16-point effort, while Franklinville’s Isaac Kopp hit four for 12 points, three assists and three steals. Franklinville’s Sam Erickson added 14 points, five boards and three steals and New Life Christian’s Dawit Hutter scored 11 points.
“I thought we jelled pretty good from the beginning,” said Bowen, who plans to continue playing at Alfred University.
That includes playing with some new teammates for the first time after a short practice session with coach Mike Ruether, formerly the varsity coach at Allegany-Limestone.
“There were three guys that we’ve never (played) before,” Grinols said. “We’ve seen them in tournaments before, but we’ve never. We’d never seen Dawit before. He’s a pretty good player.
“It was such a pleasure to be invited to something like this and perform in front of the crowd,” Grinols added of the Senior Classic Experience.
Tied 89-89, New York scored the next five points and didn’t allow Pennsy within a one-score difference again. Franklinville’s Darren Clark brought the crowd to its feet with a half-court shot in a bit of confusion, hearing a coach yell “10 seconds” — referring to the next media timeout for mandatory substitutions — before Clark grabbed a rebound, turned to take a dribble and drained the half-court jumper for a 94-89 lead.
Of his overall strategy, Ruether stressed ball control, but admitted he kept the sideline coaching simple.
“We really talked about keeping it simple and make good passes, not great passes,” he said. “Protecting the ball was key and subbing every four minutes like that, it’s difficult to get dynamic going with a group because they’re changing all the time, but to their credit, they hit some big threes when they needed to, they came back and tied it and then (A-L’s) McAfee hit that huge three for us (for an 89-83 lead). And Elliot Bowen is just a beast on the boards. I had so much fun coaching these guys. They listened well, we only had like 20 minutes and drew up two simple out of bounds plays, a little offense, but they’re so unselfish. I had a great time. It was a lot of fun.”
New York 81, Pennsylvania 80
The opening game of the fourth annual Big 30 Basketball Senior Classic Sunday at Portville Central School provided one of the best finishes, and closest contests of the Classic’s short history.
Allegany-Limestone’s Morgan Davis showed the value of having a center who makes free throws, going 2-for-2 with three seconds to play to push the New York girls ahead of Pennsylvania, 81-80, an Empire State victory sealed as Pennsy’s last-second heave missed.
Davis finished with team-highs in points (18), rebounds (10) and assists (three) while pacing New York. Wellsville’s Jordyn Pettit added 11 points, five boards, three steals and two blocks.
“Playing with the other girls today was really fun,” Davis said. “The coach we had (Wellsville’s Michelle Alvord) was really laid back so we all just had a lot of fun together. We all came in just thinking we were going to have fun and we wanted to win it ultimately. It was nice to play some different competition than just girls from New York.”
New York took a 32-21 lead with just under six minutes to play in the first half, but Pennsylvania stormed back with a 17-6 run to tie the game at 38 before NY settled for a 43-38 halftime lead. Pennsy started the second half strong, taking a 67-59 lead with 10 minutes left, before a back-and-forth final few minutes. Trailing 77-74 with two minutes to play, Alvord put her starters back in, and Davis scored five of her team’s final seven points, and dished the assist to Ellicottville’s Evelyn Cortez for the tying basket, 79-79, with 20 seconds to play. Then, a New York foul put Otto-Eldred’s Camryn Thomas at the line, where she made one of two with 10 seconds left before Davis drove to the basket and drew the last-second foul for her go-ahead free throws.
Thomas led Pennsylvania with 19 points and seven boards. Emily Fullem (Ridgway) added 16 points, Ali Cousins (O-E) had 12 and Rebecca Morgan (Northern Potter) marked five steals.
Cortez finished with 12 points for New York. New Life Christian’s Emie Taylor added eight rebounds, three steals and three blocks while Portville’s Mady Domster and A-L’s Molly Wolfgang grabbed five boards each.
“Even in the first half, that was some really good basketball,” Alvord said. “I’ll be honest, I’m not as familiar with the PA girls, but I thought that No. 10, (Emily) Fullem, she was just impressive, and then No. 22, Camryn Thomas. We actually scrimmaged Northern Potter, so I was familiar with the (Kalie) Cowburn girl and I had just said she can get hot and then she hit a quick three.
“My expectation was to make it about the girls and to showcase the talent that we have in our area in the Big 30. I think that they really proved themselves tonight because I thought for both sides it was a great game.”
Drummond 2 0-0 4, Schneider 7 7-8 22, Shaffer 4 1-3 10, Raubenstrauch 2 0-0 5, MacDonald 4 0-1 8, Terwilliger 2 0-0 5, Henry 2 0-2 4, Green 3 0-0 7, Breier 3 0-0 7, Newton 5 0-0 13, Mitchell 3 0-0 9, Ricke 2 0-0 5. Totals: 39 8-14 99.
New York (104)
McAfee 1 0-0 3, Burley 2 4-8 8, Cole 1 0-0 2, Hutter 4 2-2 11, Windus 4 0-0 8, Chudy 3 1-3 8, Grinols 5 1-2 16, Kopp 4 0-0 12, Clark 2 0-0 5, Erickson 6 1-2 14, Bowen 6 4-6 16. Totals: 38 13-23 104.
Halftime: New York, 49-44. Three-point goals: PA 13 (Schneider, Shaffer, Raubenstrauch, Terwilliger, Green, Breier, Newton 3, Mitchell 3, Ricke), NY 14 (McAfee, Hutter, Chudy, Grinols 5, Kopp 4, Clark, Erickson). Total fouls: PA 16, NY 13. Fouled out: None.
Re. Morgan 1 0-0 2, Cousins 4 4-4 12, Fullem 6 4-4 16, Bickel 1 0-0 2, Ra. Morgan 1 5-6 7, Thomas 7 5-6 19, Cowburn 3 0-0 7, Woodard 2 1-2 5, Bauer 1 0-1 2, Easton 2 1-2 6, Clark 1 0-1 2. Totals: 29 20-26 80.
New York (81)
Cortez 5 2-3 12, Wolfgang 2 3-4 7, Giardini 3 1-2 9, Kelley 1 2-2 4, Howe 1 5-6 7, Pettit 4 0-1 11, Davis 5 8-10 18, Landries 2 1-2 6, Taylor 3 1-1 7. Totals: 26 23-31 81.
Halftime: New York, 43-38. Three-point goals: PA 2 (Cowburn, Easton), NY 6 (Giardini 2, Pettit 3, Landries). Total fouls: PA 18, NY 18. Fouled out: None.