By: Mark Smith
Stoga won the opening tip off but wasn’t able to draw first blood; despite Coach Forcine sporting a new lucky beard!
The first quarter looked more like a tennis match than a basketball game and ended with a tie score; 7-7.
Stoga came out ready to go to start the second quarter and continued their aggressive defense lead by Scott Smith.
As the quarter began to close, Stoga’s offense finally came alive, sparked by a strong board and great passing where every player on the court touched the ball ending in the winning sequence from Jeremiah Miller to Jordan Cuthbert for an additional 2 points; a true team effort putting Stoga up 17-13 over the Royals.
Rejuvenated after the half, Stoga came out showing a strong offense lead by a bullet pass from Austin Fontaine to Scott Smith who fired the ball over to Frank Koblish who nailed the basket for 2.
This play was followed by some amazing defense that unfortunately ended with a toe out of bounds but Stoga was not daunted. Jeremiah Miller grabbed the ball and heaved it down court to an awaiting Riley Deshetler who drove to the basket for 2; increasing Stoga’s lead to 21-15.
Unfortunately the Royals immediately answered with a 3 pointer to close the gap and continued their trend under the buzzer sounded, ending the third quarter ahead by 1; 26-25.
Stoga started the final quarter with some fresh legs which helped Frank Koblish see an open Jack Troy who scored the go ahead 2 for Stoga. Not satisfied, Jack played hard under the boards earning the right to sink both free throws for a 3 point lead.
Then the tempo of the game picked up dramatically but neither team could score a point despite numerous attempts.
With the tempo up and the clock winding down, Jeremiah Miller, who had just turned the ball over said “not today” and ran down the offending Upper Darby player, causing him to miss the layup. Capitalizing on his incredible hang time, Jeremiah grabbed the rebound, quickly passed the ball to Austin Fontaine who made an amazing pass to Riley Deshetler who went hard to the hole for 2; making the score 33-28 in favor of Stoga.
Upper Darby was not going to go away quietly and scored a quick 4 points before calling timeout with the score being 33-32 in favor of Stoga with 33 seconds left on the clock.
Upper Darby came out ready to execute their plan but up against a strong Stoga defense and a little home court luck, they missed their shot and with 19seconds left. Stoga in-bounded the ball with a combination of passes from Jeremiah to Austin to Jordan for a quick and very much needed 2 points.
With the score now sitting at 35-32 and 5 seconds left on the clock, Upper Darby crossed half court and quickly called time-out to review their 3 point assault plan.
In what seemed like the longest 5 seconds ever, Upper Darby made three rapid fire failed 3 point attempts before the buzzer sounded; ending a low scoring, low foul, hyper aggressive defensive game in favor of the Pioneers – and by default, preserving Coach Forcines’ beard for another game!