GRAPPLING FOR IT — Two Depew players and a Springville man wrestle for the ball, as Kevin Zabawa (right) coaches them through. Photos by Dave DeLuca.
SPRINGVILLE — After winning their first league game in nearly three years against Lake Shore, the Springville-Griffith Institute varsity basketball boys upset Depew 58-50 on Jan. 31, to get that winning taste for the second straight game. Depew came into the matchup tied for second place in Erie County Interscholastic Conference III, while Springville sat in eighth and last place. Depew routed Springville by 32 points in the team’s first meeting, back in December. Springville used a stingy defense and an efficient offense to knock off the Wildcats, for their second league win of the season, according to coach Frank Noeson.
“Depew is always tough. It was a huge turn-around from the first time we met,” said Noeson. “I really couldn’t be more proud of this team and how they’ve continued to work hard and get better. They really have come a long way, and a win like that exemplifies what kind of character they have.”
Both teams played an even first quarter, exchanging defensive stops with minimal offense. Springville’s Adam Wolfley helped the Griffs take control, late in the quarter, when he forced back-to-back turnovers and converted them into transition baskets, to give Springville a 9-4 lead after one stanza. Depew would battle back in the second quarter, to tie the game at 21-21, behind 8 points from Collin Gemerek.
Springville’s Greg Beatty opened the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers, to give the Griffs a 27-25 lead. Springville wouldn’t trail the rest of the way, leading by as many as 13 points. Depew started to heat up offensively, scoring 23 points in the final quarter, but Springville countered with 25 points of their own, the highest-scoring quarter of the season. Bobby Fisher led Springville down the stretch, with 9 points in the quarter. Two of those came off a well executed pick-and-roll, when Beatty found Fisher open in the lane and delivered a bounce pass through a tight window that highlighted a 10-0 Springville run, midway through the fourth.
Springville’s Kyle Warner scored a team-high 15 points, while Beatty and Fisher added 11 points apiece. The Griffs had three players in double-figures, for the third time this season. Along with the Warner-Beatty-Fisher trio, Wolfley added 8 points, Kevin Zabawa had 7 and Devin Pazzuti came off the bench to score 6, in the team’s most balanced scoring effort of the season. Balanced scoring has been a chore for Springville, with Beatty doing the majority of the scoring, this season. Beatty is averaging 15.5 points per game, the only Springville player averaging double-figures.
“This is really something that we’ve talked about a lot, lately,” said Noeson. “We cannot allow one person to shoulder the scoring. Every guy on the floor needs to be a threat to score. The teams and coaches we play are way too good to allow just one person or [one] play beat them. It was great to see the scoring spread out against Depew. We’ve gotten a lot of great looks lately due to making more passes.”
Springville entered the game leading ECIC III in points allowed, surrendering 49 points per game. Depew entered the game scoring 66 points a contest against league opponents.
Springville would prevail, yielding 50 points; 16 points below their season average and it was only the second time this season they didn’t score more than 50 points in a league matchup. Springville blocked a season-high 10 shots and added 10 steals.
“We’ve got some very active guards who get their hands in passing lanes and get tips,” said Noeson, about his defense. “We knew that last time Depew caught fire from three-point range, so we knew we had to extend out on the perimeter. We played them in a 3-2 and had defenders in their face outside. Our big guys did an excellent job of boxing out and limiting Depew to one shot, each trip.”
Zabawa had 11 rebounds and tied his season-high, blocking four shots on the defensive end. The 6-foot-5 Zabawa has found his way into Springville’s starting lineup, giving the Griffs a post presence. The senior has been on a rebounding tear, averaging 10.2 boards per game, in his last five contests.
“Kevin is really doing a great job on the boards,” said Noeson. “He’s always near the ball, when it comes off the rim. This gives him some looks at put-backs and gets him to the free-throw line, where he’s steadily improving. He also made a very timely 3-point shot for us.”
On Feb. 3, Springville attempted to make it a three-game winning streak, but Maryvale had other ideas – handing the Griffs a 63-57 loss. The first half saw 13 lead changes, with Maryvale taking a 31-24 lead into halftime. The Flyers would control most of the second half, leading by as many as 10. Springville made a brief run, midway through the fourth quarter, following a three-pointer by Warner and a layup by Wolfley in transition, that brought Springville within 44-42, but Maryvale would tighten up its defense, down the stretch, to prevail.
Springville had three players in double figures, for the second straight game, as Beatty led with 16 points, while Wolfley had 12 and Fisher had 10, in the loss. Zabawa had nine rebounds and blocked four shots.
With the loss, Springville fell to 5-9 overall. The team traveled to East Aurora on Feb. 6 and Cheektowaga on Feb. 7.