DUCKING AROUND A BLOCK — S-GI’s Bobby Fisher drives the ball around a Pioneer defender, in a recent game. Photos by Dave DeLuca.
SPRINGVILLE — The Springville-Griffith Institute boys varsity basketball team has played some nail-biters, this season. Despite leading the division in defense, Springville has dropped four of their seven league games by 7 points or fewer. A defense allowing 49 points per contest has kept the team in a lot of league match-ups, but it hasn’t been enough to get the squad over the top; until a Jan. 24 match-up with Lake Shore.
Springville snapped its 34-game losing streak against divisional opponents, with a 54-43 win over the host Eagles, for the boys’ first division win in nearly three years.
“The guys have worked really hard all season and have been close,” said Springville coach Frank Noeson. “They knew it would come. There’s no monkey off our back, being in this division, though. Each and every division game is against a quality team and we have to keep working hard, in order to get another win.”
Springville got off to a slow start, trailing 13-5 late in the first quarter, and fell behind 20-11, early in the second quarter. Springville would go on a 10-0 run to take a 21-20 lead, highlighted by back-to-back threes by Greg Beatty and Kyle Warner. Bobby Fisher finished a transition bucket on a feed from Adam Wolfley, that forced Lake Shore to call a timeout. Springville would not surrender the lead from that point on, forcing turnovers defensively and some hot shooting, on the other end.
The Griffs enjoyed one of their most efficient shooting nights of the season – shooting nearly 40 percent from the floor and 70 percent from the free-throw line.
“We finally started knocking down some shots,” said Noeson, about his team’s offensive production. “Every guy out on the floor that night shared the ball. They played aggressive and together. We made the extra pass, when needed, and found ourselves wide open for mid-range and three-point shots, all night.”
GUY’S GOT AIR — Adam Wolfley takes a shot against the competition, in a recent game.
The offensive catalyst in the win was sophomore guard Warner. Warner, a junior varsity call-up before the season, scored a career-high 20 points. The 6-foot Warner was in the starting line for the first time this season, filling in for the injured Nate Wolcott. He shot 60 percent from the field and knocked down 2, 3-point field goals. His 8 points in the third quarter helped Springville open up a tight game.
“Warner had an amazing game,” said Noeson. “We know that he can score the ball. He’s gaining confidence each game and is becoming more and more of a threat. He’s making great strides defensively, as well. Our senior guards have been an excellent example for Kyle and he’s rising to the occasion.”
Beatty, Springville’s leading scorer, netted 18 points, with 11 coming in the fourth quarter, to close out the game. Lake Shore scored 7 straight points in the fourth – attempting to make a comeback – but Beatty fended off the Eagles’ late push, as the senior knocked down shots on three straight possessions.
“There was something about those last eight minutes that gave it a different feel,” said Beatty. “I’ve struggled in the fourth quarter in a few games, this season. It was nice pulling through for my team, for once. I knew what I had to do and made the shots that I’ve been missing, late in games.”
Wofley scored 6 points; hitting two 3-pointers and had seven rebounds for Springville. Kevin Zabawa had a solid night in the paint for the Griffs, pulling down 11 rebounds and blocking two shots against Lake Shore.
The league matchup with the host Eagles marked the beginning of Springville’s second half of the season. With the win over Lake Shore, they now have six league games remaining, before the Section VI playoffs.
The remaining six league games will be rematches, as the Griffs have played every league opponent at least once. In Springville’s first meeting with Lake Shore, the Griffs shot 16-for-29, or 55 percent, from the free-throw line in a 62-56 loss and improved that number to 70 percent, going 14-for-20, the second time around.
“Pre-game, we discussed this as being the beginning of our second season,” said Noeson. “We’ve seen everyone once now, and know what we have to do to change the outcome of some of those close losses. We felt that some of the things that let us down the first time, against Lake Shore, were well under our control. We took care of those things this game and got the win. This group of young men are resilient.”
Lake Shore came into the game with wins over Depew and Cheektowaga. Springville lost to both, by a combined 58 points.
“We’re certainly hoping to use this win [to set the tone for the season],” said Noeson. “It’s proof that, if we do the things we’re capable of, we can compete with everyone in our division.”
Springville hosted Depew on Jan. 31.