PROCTOR- The Twin Valley boys’ basketball team got off to a great start this week with two wins to open their season. The Wildcats defeated last year’s Division IV champion Rochester Rockets and the Proctor Phantoms to capture the Bob Abrahamson Tip-off Classic Tournament. The Wildcats start 2-0 for the first time in five years.
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Senior shooting guard Dal Nesbitt hit two clutch free throws with 1.7 seconds left, and three Wildcats scored in double digits to give Twin Valley their first win of the season Monday night, 60 to 58 over the Rochester Rockets.
Nesbitt combined with senior Colin Lozito and junior Sam Molner for two-thirds of the team’s points. Molner came close to a double-double on the night, scoring 13 and adding nine boards, while Lozito scored 13 and led the team in assists, recording five.
Twin Valley would fall behind early in the matchup, outscored in the first 12 minutes of the game, 26-12. The Wildcats picked up the intensity from there, playing tougher help defense while trying to contain Rochester scorer Pavin Parrish, who averages 30 points per game. The Wildcats went to their strong suit, and began to create turnovers and turn them into points. Senior forward Cade Nesbitt would lead his team with six steals, while collecting eight rebounds and adding seven points. In a matchup this close, points are paramount, but so are turnovers, and with Twin Valley’s shooters hitting only 39% of their shots, the Wildcats’ 14 to eight turnover ratio would be crucial.
After trailing 33-28 at the half, the Wildcats outscored the Rockets 19-10 in the third quarter, and held onto a fragile lead. Throughout the fourth quarter, the two teams traded lead changes, and Dal Nesbitt hit his only three-pointer of the day with a minute and a half left to take the lead. But the Rockets came back and tied the game at 58 with nine seconds left. Wildcat coach Chris Brown called a timeout and drew up a play. His boys executed it to perfection. Lozito got the ball near half court, drove to the hoop, and hit Dal Nesbitt on the baseline. Nesbitt went in for a reverse layup and was fouled with 1.7 seconds left. Following a dismal night of shooting (four of 17 from the field and one of seven from beyond the arc), it was up to him to seal the game, and he rose to the occasion by hitting both.
Brown saw a lot that he liked in his team’s first win. “I love the way we compete from start to finish,” said Brown. “We didn’t have our best stuff, but in the past we might have been out of it mentally, down 26-12, but to their credit, they came back strong. It was a good win.”
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The Wildcats played tournament host Proctor Wednesday night, dominating for the last three quarters of play, and sealing a 52-38 win.
Backup center/forward DJ Lazelle had a career night off the bench for the Wildcats, scoring 10 of his 12 points in the second quarter, and creating the spark his team needed to pull away. Lazelle also finished with 12 rebounds to record his first double-double, and what coach Chris Brown called a “dynamic performance.”
Proctor kept the game tied at seven after one. Early miscues and turnovers by the Wildcats allowed the Phantoms to stay in it, and take the lead. After Lazelle entered the game, the momentum shifted, and Twin Valley exploded for 22 points in the second quarter while holding Proctor to eight. This was largely due to the help defense provided by Eli Park, Sam Molner, and Cade Nesbitt, as they clogged the passing lanes and helped contain point guard Cody Landon. Twin Valley led by as much as 21 at one point, and finished the game with 23 second-half points.
“It’s great to start 2-0,” said Brown. “I think the team as a whole, which has been the same base for three years, has matured as a group physically and their experience has really shown.”
Twin Valley recorded 15 assists on 22 shots, while Dal Nesbitt led all scorers with 13. Freshmen Skyler Boyd and TJ Felisko each recorded their first points of the year, coming off the bench.