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Springville-Griffith Institute boys varsity basketball team takes on rival Pioneer Central School

NO STOPPING HIM NOW — Springville’s Billy Dickinson takes to the air, to rack up 2 of his 17 points against Pioneer, during a rivalry game held on Jan. 17. Photos by Dave DeLuca.
SPRINGVILLE — Jan. 17 saw the Pioneer Panthers take on rival and host Springville-Griffith Institute. A full gymnasium, the S-GI pep band and a packed student section were on hand, to watch the cross-town, rivalry matchup.

“Pioneer has been our rival for as long as I can remember,” said S-GI junior guard Nate Wolcott. “There’s just something about the rivalry that makes me work extra harder in practice, before the game and during the game. Every time we play them, in any sport, I don’t want to experience anything, other than a win.”

Junior forward Greg Beatty, the Griffins’ second-leading scorer, said, “The rivalry between Springville and Pioneer is something that will last forever. When you hear that they’re coming into town, you prepare the whole week for it. If you don’t get pumped up for a game against Pioneer, you haven’t played them before. The hostility between the two teams is insane. It’s true, hard-nosed basketball.”

Beatty started the scoring with a midrange jumper, to make the score 2 – 0, in the Griffins’ first possession of the game. After Pioneer took the lead, Beatty hit a 3, to cut the Panthers’ lead to 14 – 10.

Pioneer went on a 13 – 0 run, to take a 17-point lead, for that team’s largest margin of the game. S-GI’s Billy Dickinson hit a 3-pointer, with 4:30 remaining in the second quarter, to make the score 27 – 15, in the Panthers’ favor. Wolcott’s 3-point play, along with Brian Seneca’s scoring the Griffins’ final 6 points of the second quarter, brought the game to 34 – 28, Pioneer, at the half.

DEFEND TILL THE END — The rivalry game between S-GI and Pioneer gets rough, as Springville’s Adam Wolfley (white) dives on the floor, to fight for a loose ball.
Springville ended the half on a 18 – 7 run, to battle back. Both teams exchanged baskets and defensive stops and Beatty found nylon on a turnaround fadeaway, with 4:50 remaining, in the third.

Pioneer stretched its lead to 47 – 41, early in the fourth quarter. Wolcott drove on Pioneer’s Dylan Souder and put up a floater that tied the game at 53 – 53 and concluded a 12 – 6 run, knotting the game. Adam Benzel’s baseline jumper rung off the rim for Pioneer and the game went into overtime.

The overtime period was a defensive affair, with each team’s using the whole shot clock. Pioneer took the lead on Connor Johnson’s free throws, but Beatty buried a triple, to give the Griffins a 57 – 56 lead.

Johnson hit a jumper, with 45 seconds left, to give the Panthers back the lead. Bobby Fisher’s heave fell short, as Pioneer escaped with a 58 – 57 victory.

NEVER GIVE UP — Coach Frank Noeson claps for his team, late in the fourth quarter.
Coach Frank Noeson said that he has been looking for an answer to the Griffins’ inability to break through, in the fourth quarter. “I really wish I had an answer,” he said. “I really contribute some of it to lack of experience, in close games. We’re getting better, though. In those late, close situations, we rush, mentally, and start doing too much thinking, instead of playing. I tried to ride those five guys who got us that close, right until the end. They put it all out there on the court for us and, unfortunately, just came up a couple points short.”

Pioneer’s guards combined, to score 15 points. Five of its players are 6 feet, 4 inches tall, or taller. The Panthers’ Terik Lewis scored 18 points. Connor Johnson scored 10 points, Adam Benzel scored 9 and Justin Bliss scored 6.

“I thought, man for man, we played them all right,” Noeson said, referring to how Springville handled the Pioneer players’ sizes. “We had help, coming from the weak side post position. The only problem we had was then leaving a guard who had rotated down, trying to body up one of their bigs. Early in the game, they had several second and third chance opportunities. With their size, both height and weight, moving them out from underneath the basket is a chore. We had more success later, when we allowed our post defenders to play them, straight up, allowing for the weak side post to stay in position for rebounds, making it a much more even matchup.”

Seneca had a block on the 6-foot, 5-inch Johnson, resulting in a layup in transition. Seneca leads the team in blocks and added two rejections against Pioneer.

LET’S PLAY BALL — Springville’s Brian Seneca blocks a shot against Pioneer.
“Brian Seneca is very instinctual, in the post,” Noeson said, about the senior. “He plays great post defense, both on and off ball. He knows when to help and is very athletic, for 6 foot. Brian understands that playing in the post starts when the ball changes possession. He finds his man early and doesn’t allow them to set up low or make any easy catches. Brian and Bobby [Fisher] both played really strong, in the second half of this game, on the boards.”

Leading Springville in scoring was Dickinson, with 17 points, including four 3-point field goals.

Beatty scored 15 points, including two triples. Seneca scored 12 points, while going 5 – 6, from the free throw line.

The S-GI Griffins played in a non-league matchup against Eden on Jan. 23.

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