Down to the Buzzer

~Sam Lewin goes up for a layup earlier this season in a game against Jaunita Sanchez above.~

by Gwen Pearson

Reading about a basketball game a week after it happened may not sound thrilling. But this game deserves to be read about, as the Avengers played their hearts out and fought like, well, avengers. I was proud to be covering this game, even though I am usually not a sports writer.

The boy’s basketball team faced Middletown at home on Thursday, January 19. The starting line up was junior Andrew Liccardi (#1), senior Mitchell Gemma (#2), sophomore Patrick Shea (#3), junior Colin Cianciolo (#13), and senior Spencer Alkins (#33).  Our Avengers entered the game filled with spirit, energy, and motivation. Their rivals started with Devin Russ (#14), Aiden Murphy (#23), Owen Sullivan (#34), DJ Robinson (#40), and Ryan Roas (#22). I went into this game knowing that we had a strong team but not knowing the capability of Middletown. Not to discredit myself, but I don’t exactly follow the high school basketball league.

When it was time for tip-off, the crowd was eager and you could tell the players were ready for a battle. The tip-off went to Middletown, and they ended up scoring the first basket of the game. Not letting it get to them, EG got the ball after Middletown had a turnover which led to Spencer Alkins scoring EG’s first basket. Within seconds, Middletown got the rebound and Devin Russ scored the next basket. After DJ Robinson was called for travelling, Mitchell Gemma drove from one side of the court to the other for a lay-up. Both EG and Middletown score another basket before the Avengers sub in Dante Prosseda and Andrew Blessing for Andrew Liccardi and Spencer.

Throughout the game, I picked up on different plays Middletown used. They began by swinging the ball around the three-point line; from the point guard to one shooting guard back to the point guard then to the other shooting guard. They kept this rotation going for a while. Thankfully, Patrick Shea also picked up on this and stole the ball from them. He swung the ball to Colin who made basket. Once this play grew old, Middletown switched to another- dribbling the ball really close to the ground. They kept the ball extremely low when they passed or dribbled before passing. Maybe I just don’t understand sports, but I do not see the value in this. It did virtually nothing, as Andrew L. stole the ball. By this point, it was halftime and EG was leading 25, Middletown 20.
Middletown started the second half with a bang. They put in Tyrese Loughlin (#3) who immediately scored two baskets. EG got the ball, but Middletown stole it and DJ Robinson scored another basket- putting them in the lead at 26- 25(EG). EG then proceeds to take a timeout at 8:11 left on the clock. Matt Plympton is in, and he scores a two-pointer bringing the score to 32 (EG)- 37 (M). But Loughlin is just too good. Immediately after Plympton’s basket, he scores a 3 pointer. Time was running low, and the Avengers were down by 7 with the score being 40- 47. EG took a timeout and when they went back in, it was clear what their strategy was. They continuously fouled the other team, but not the type of foul where the player is at the line- the type where they throw the ball in. My thought was that they did this so they could steal the ball when it was being thrown in. And it somewhat worked- Colin got the ball and shot a 3, but they were still down by 4. Eventually their fouling backfired and brought players to the line which got Middletown another 3 points. The Avengers ended up losing a heartbreaking game, 43-50. But they played extremely hard and fought to the very last second. Which is what the sport is all about, in my opinion- not giving up and defending the school. I’ve never been much for organized sports, but I’m glad I didn’t miss that game. It was one for the books.

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