It was a typical mid-season battle between rivals Drury and Hoosac Valley on Friday night at Hoosac Valley High School. Packed gymnasium, loud fans, high-intensity defense, passionate coaches, 14 lead changes (seven of which came in the fourth quarter), and a last second chance to win the game with just seconds remaining on the clock. On this night it was the Hurricanes who pulled out the victory as they defeated the Blue Devils 43-42.
"They know us. We know them. That's what happens. You play 20 times in the summer. You play each other over the years a million times on travel. Everybody knows everybody's game and you end up with these crazy 40 point games," said Hoosac head coach Bill Robinson.
One part of junior Matt Braman
's game that is tough to stop even when you know it is coming, is his foul line jump shot. With 1:21 left in the fourth quarter Braman pulled up from his sweet spot and drained the bucket to give his Hurricanes a one-point advantage. "A lot of our offense gets us open looks from the foul line and it helps that I have been able to knock it down all season. So it gives me a lot of confidence to take a big shot like that," said Braman after the game.
But it wasn't all good for Braman after that shot as he committed a double-dribble violation with just 21 seconds left on the clock that gave Drury the ball and chance to score for the win. "My brain got a little ahead of me, so I ended up double dribbling, but I tried to stay positive and play defense when we needed it most. Coach told me not to worry about it and just play my butt off on defense and work as hard as I possibly can," said Braman.
With 21 seconds remaining Drury now had their chance to score on the final possession to claim victory at their rivals' home court. The Blue Devils got an awesome look at the basket as sophomore Kareen Beckett
drove for a lay-up but couldn't get it to fall. Hoosac rebounded and was immediately trapped on their own baseline, with no where to go Hoosac stepped on the line with 4 seconds left, giving Drury one last attempt. The Blue Devils got the ball into their team's scorer, Nolan Bird
, but his shot was heavily contested and he was unable to knock it down.
Braman's double-dribble violation didn't come back to haunt him and Hoosac Valley sealed up their fifth win to move to 5-7 on the season. Drury's three-game win streak came to an end with the loss as they move to 4-6 on the year.
Senior Isaiah Pantoja
had a terrific night that helped keep the Drury in the
game as he finished with a game and team-high of 17 points including three 3-pointers, three rebounds, and two steals. Pantoja hit big shot after big shot and without him it could have gotten ugly for the Blue Devils.
Drury's Bird, who came into the game averaging 17 points a game, was held scoreless throughout the first three quarters but showed up when his team needed him most. Down by four with 2:50 remaining in the game he snagged an offensive board and layed it in to cut the lead to just two. On Drury's next possession he banged a 3-pointer from the top of the arc to pull the Blue Devils back up by one with 2:11 to play.
Hoosac junior Trevor Alibozek
shared the game-high in points with Pantoja as he also finished with 17. Alibozek was huge for the Hurricanes as he scored 14 of their 23 first half points to keep them ahead by three-points at halftime. "Coming out and playing Drury is always going to be a good game," said Alibozek. "We wanted to play all out, my teammates found me in the open spots and I finished."
"We are going to enjoy this," said Coach Robinson. "We'll take tomorrow off and then Sunday get back to work. We got Monument on Tuesday so we need to get ready for them." Drury will have four days before traveling south to take on Lenox on Thursday.