TV 67 Black River 45
Every active player on the Twin Valley boys’ squad had at least two points and a rebound in a rout of the Black River Presidents Thursday night, extending the team’s record to 14-0 on the year. Colin Lozito, Eli Park, and Dal Nesbitt led the Wildcats, each with double digit points while the Twin Valley bench added a season-high combination of 18 points.
The Wildcats got off to a blistering start in the first quarter, going up 21-0 behind six straight points from Park as well as seven in the first quarter from Nesbitt. Black River’s young and small team had no answer for the fast and physical play of the Wildcats on both sides of the court. While the Presidents lacked height and bulk, they made up for their 23-5 first-quarter deficit by playing with heart over the next three-quarters. For the Wildcats, their first-quarter dominance afforded them the chance to mix in different rotations, and get their bench players some much-needed minutes.
The Wildcats continued to pull away in the second quarter, going up 41-18 at the half. Justin Hicks and Jeremy Hunt added six of the ‘Cats’ 16 points, while Ben Veysey scored six of the Presidents’ 10. The second half provided no mercy for the Presidents, but they kept the game within 25 points, at times bringing it to 17, but no further, and the Wildcats cruised to a 67-45 win for their 14th straight.
Skyler Boyd led Twin Valley’s bench with six points and five rebounds. Lozito led all scorers with 16 points and added five assists. Nesbitt finished with 14 points and six rebounds, and Park had 12 points and seven rebounds.
Poultney 59 TV 54 (overtime)
Well, it finally happened. The Twin Valley High School boys’ varsity team lost a game. It came on Monday night against a formidable foe on their home turf, and against a team the Wildcat players knew would challenge their undefeated record. But losing this game in overtime was something coach Chris Brown and his players knew they could draw some positives from. “(Point guard) Colin Lozito said that if we would have won we would have thought we could get away with playing a bad first half and still win,” said Brown. “It teaches us that we have to play a competitive game. We cannot play a bad first half and come out on top.”
The match was close during both halves, and every time the Poultney Blue Devils found a way to take a big lead, the Wildcats would claw their way back into the game, not an easy feat when you’re not in your home gym. But the Wildcats got off to a bad start as the Blue Devils outplayed them through every facet of the game, especially rebounding, where the Blue Devils dominated on the boards with a strong inside game led by Sean Shephardson.
Poultney got off to an 18-9 lead late in the second quarter, but the Wildcats pulled out seven straight points to close the gap. Poultney got the upper hand just before the half, however, scoring five straight to enter the locker room with a 23-16 lead.
Sam White knocked down a big Poultney three-pointer to start the second half, but as they had in the second quarter, the Wildcats got back into contention with a 10-0 run to tie the game at 26. But just like that, the Blue Devils knocked down three three-pointers in a row for another nine-point lead.
Even though the ‘Cats got slammed on the boards 38-22, they kept at it and began to reorganize their efforts, working the ball inside to big men Sam Molner and DJ Lazelle, and working on guard penetration into open lanes. The Wildcats would finally take the lead in the fourth quarter.
As the Wildcats began to get control over White, who had a game-high 21 points for the Blue Devils, they also chipped away at the lead, finally getting up on the Devils 49-47 with less than a minute to go. But the Wildcats would fail to seal the deal as Dal Nesbitt missed a free throw to force a three-point game with 13 seconds left. Instead, the Blue Devils were able to get the rock to White inside the paint where he hit a sweeping layup to tie the game at 49. Cade Nesbitt came up just short on a chance to win the game on a wide-open three-pointer.
In overtime, the Wildcats could only muster two shots, including a three-pointer from Dal Nesbitt, but the Blue Devils took the lead and kept it for good this time, sealing the game with the five-point victory.
“ We weren’t going full bore,” said Brown. “We became accustomed in the last four games where we had close games at the half and we would go in and win in the second, and we became complacent in that. This teaches us we need to get back to what we were doing in the first 10 games of the season, and not the last four.”
As for finally losing, Brown said it was OK. “I think it’s a good lesson learned,” said Brown. “In the grand scheme, the ultimate goal remains the same. Their goal is to win the four games after the season and win a championship. That’s what they want, so we’ll take it one game at a time, and if we’re 23-1 instead of 24-0 at the end, then so what. I’d rather this team lose and be tested now.”
Dal Nesbitt led the Wildcats with 21 points, while Molner led his team on the boards with eight rebounds.
The Wildcats play Friday night at Arlington at 7.