FLY LIKE AN EAGLE — Kyle Crotty of Springville-Griffith Institute goes up for a shot against Gowanda, during the Emerling Ford tournament. Photo by Dave DeLuca.
SPRINGVILLE — Back-and-forth. Punch-for-punch. Springville and Gowanda played nearly 32 minutes of even basketball, during the boys varsity championship game of the Emerling Ford Holiday Tournament on Dec. 30. It was Gowanda who had the last word, handing Springville a 50-40 loss.
“We didn’t execute offensively, like we’re capable,” said Springville coach Frank Noeson. “We shot 3 for 17 from the field, in the fourth quarter. You’re not going to win any games, shooting like that. Late in the game, we got disorganized and rushed. Guys were straying from our system and trying to do it independently. We played very tough man defense, for three quarters. In the fourth, their big guys got some life to them and we made some mental mistakes under our own basket that cost us easy buckets.”
Springville’s offensive struggles in the fourth quarter allowed Gowanda to go on a run. Springville’s Kyle Warner made two free-throws with 5 minutes and 45 seconds left in the game, to give Springville a slim 34-32 lead. That’s when Gowanda would take over, using an 18-6 run, to close the game. The visiting Panthers scored 22 points in the final quarter, behind 7 points from Brennan Geiger.
“Their run was simple: They made shots and we didn’t. They made free throws and we didn’t,” said Noeson. “It seemed like we couldn’t buy a basket, when it came down to it. We had every opportunity to win that game. I feel we outplayed them, on the court, but it didn’t show up on the scoreboard.”
Springville took a 23-18 lead at halftime, and there would be 12 lead changes, before Gowanda took control. Springville’s leading scorer, Greg Beatty, finished with 9 points, all from behind the arc. After knocking down his first two 3-point attempts in the first quarter, Beatty hit 1, the rest of the game, with a number of shots rimming in-and-out. Beatty scored 19 points in Springville’s tournament opener, including three, 3-point field goals. Beatty is one of the division’s best 3-point shooters, with 11 3-pointers made in his first five games.
“It was just one of those days, where makeable shots weren’t falling,” Beatty said. “Their coach knew what I liked to do and took that away. I had nothing easy, all night, and I just couldn’t pull through when I needed to.”
Springville got balanced scoring, but didn’t have a player in double-digits. Nate Wolcott scored 9 points, while Adam Wolfley and Kyle Warner scored 8 points apiece. Springville struggled from the foul line, going 6-of-14 from the charity stripe.
“We shot the ball horribly. We had the looks we wanted. From lay-ups to free throws, we struggled,” Noeson added. “We also shot the ball as poorly as we have all season from three. With every missed shot, uncertainty creeps into the mind of some of our guys, whether to keep shooting or not. We then begin thinking, and not playing.”
Defensively, Noeson was happy with his team’s showing. The Griffs allowed 28 points through three quarters and limited Gowanda’s leading scorer, Zack Stevens, to 4 points in the first half, before Stevens and company started to get shots to fall, in the fourth.
“I thought we played our butts off, defensively,” Noeson noted. “We tipped a ton of passes, created some turnovers and really did a nice job on the defensive glass. That was the best we rebounded the ball, all season. It’s not a matter of size, but of heart.”
Wolfley joined Beatty on the All-Tournament team. Springville advanced to the championship after a 60-20 win over West Valley. Beatty led the Springville squad, with a game-high 19 points, while adding eight rebounds and two blocks. Sophomore Kyle Warner scored a varsity career-high 13 points in his fourth game at the varsity level. He added four assists and four steals.
“I think we most certainly can come out of the tournament with some positives,” Noeson said. “Our defense is playing really well and very hard-nosed. We just need to put the ball in the basket, a few more times. It’s tough when you get the shots and just don’t convert them. The guys all know where we need to improve. They are a very hardworking group of guys, and will keep getting better, as the season progresses.”
Springville, whose record stands at 2-3 overall, 0-2 league, will continue the schedule when the team hosts East Aurora on Jan. 3. East Aurora will be welcoming reigning ECIC III all-star Brennan Cox back to the lineup. Cox will be playing his first game of the season, after being out with an injury, to start the year.