DuBOIS — For the second time in just over two weeks, the Brockway and DuBois boys basketball teams found themselves in a down to the wire battle, and for the second time this month it was the Brockway Rovers who pulled out a three-point victory.
Back on Dec 13, DuBois jumped out to a big 19-point lead in the first half only to see the Rovers rally in the second half before holding on for a 63-60 victory.
Friday’s matchup at the DuBois Holiday Tournament proved to be much closer throughout, but DuBois once again saw a first-half lead evaporate in another three-point loss — this time 50-47 — to the Rovers as Brockway reached the championship game.
DuBois (4-3) held the largest lead for either side at eight points (24-16) with 1:57 left in the second quarter. However, Brockway (4-2) cut that lead to three by halftime and used a 9-2 run to open the third quarter to take a four-point lead (30-26).
The Beavers regained the lead at 36-33 with just over a minute left in the third on a 3-pointer by Justin Manduley, but a 9-0 run by the Rovers that spanned the end of third and start of the fourth quarter gave Brockway the lead for good at 42-36.
DuBois cut the lead to one point twice in the final 30 seconds at 45-44 and 48-47, but Brockway went 5 of 6 at line — including 3 of 4 by Anthony Esposito — during that same stretch to seal the victory. The Rovers were just 6 of 11 at the line the rest of the game.
Esposito and fellow senior Carter Adams each scored 14 points to lead the way for the Rovers. Both players hit three 3-pointers in the game. Adams had 27 points in the first meeting, while Esposito had just five.
Brockway also got a couple big plays down the stretch from another senior, Noah Vokes, who tipped out a missed Rover free throw for another possession with 37 seconds left. He then came up with a huge block on a shot in the paint by DuBois’ Alex Beers with 19 seconds remaining with the Rovers clinging to a 46-44 lead.
Vokes, who had three blocks overall, also scored eight points on the night.
“Another three-point win,” said Brockway coach Rick Clark. “We knew after playing them the first time that it took a great effort and great comeback to win the first one. They’re tough to beat here on their home floor and we knew they were going to shoot the ball with more confidence here and better than they did at our place.
“After the first half, I thought our girls did a great job limiting their second (chance) opportunities, which is what really hurt us in the first half. And, we got some timely threes again. Anthony Esposito hit a couple threes in the second half and Carter (Adams) hit a big three.
“I think that took them out of the zone and forced them back to man-to-man, where we can spread them out and use our penetration to get some looks. The free throw line, we could have salted it away a little earlier, but we hit the key ones when we absolutely had to have them.
“We had different guys step up for us at different times. Alec Freemer hit a big three and made a couple free throws to get us close at end of first half, and Noah Vokes made some plays down the stretch for us, including that big block when it was still a two-point game (in 4th quarter). It was a great effort by everybody tonight.”
The opening quarter was a back-and-forth battle, with the biggest lead being three points on three different occasions (7-4, 10-7 and 14-11) by the Rovers.
Esposito opened the game with a 3-pointer, while Manduley and Adams traded treys in the middle of the quarter. Brockway later used baskets by Zane Puhala and Vokes late in the quarter to go back up 14-11, but DuBois scored the final three points to knot things at 14-14 after eight minutes.
DuBois extended that run to seven straight points on baskets by Kenny Garvey and Beers t open the second quarter to go up 18-14. Vokes countered with a hoop for Brockway, but the Rovers then went four minutes without scoring.
During that drought, DuBois got baskets from Manduley, Beers and Shadi Hassan to push its lead out to eight points (24-16). Brockway finally found the scoreboard when reserve Alec Freemer went 2 of 2 at the line with 1:35 left in the half. Freemer then drained a trey with 21 seconds remaining to pull the Rovers within three (24-31) at the break.
Freemer’s five points to close the half were his only ones of the game.
Maduley scored just 12 seconds into the third quarter to psh the Beavers lead to five, but three straight 3-pointers by Brockway — two by Esposito and one by Adams — quickly put the Rovers back up 30-26.
DuBois promptly tied things at 30-30 on scores by Manduley and Garvey. The teams traded scores from their, with Manduley hitting two treys to help give the Beavers a 36-35 lead after three quarters. Manduley scored 10 of his game-high 16 points in the third.
Brockway then seized control of the game to open the fourth. The Rovers held DuBois scoreless for the first 4-plus minutes while netting seven points themselves as Vokes and Jon Wood scored hoops around a trey by Adams. That 7-0 spurt gave Brockway a 42-36 lead.
Garvey finally ended the Beavers’ scoring drought when he completed a 3-point play with 4:45 remaining. Teammate Jonathan Cruz then hit a 3-pointer to make it 44-42 with 3:07 on the clock.
Brockway maintained that cushion into the final minute, where the Beavers got within a point twice at 45-44 on a bucket by Manduley and 48-47 on a trey by Garvey with 2.3 seconds left. But, the Rovers hit their free throws down the stretch to pull out their second win of the month over the Beavers.
Garvey finished with 14 points for the Beavers. Beaver Chase Husted, who scored 16 points in the first meeting, was held to just four points Friday.
“First of all, I give them (Brockway) credit. They have our number this year,” said DuBois coach Scott Creighton. “They beat us both times by three. But, down the stretch, rebounds, loose balls, they seemed to get the majority of them. If we were going to make any kind of comeback successful, we had to get more than they did and it didn’t happen that way.
“We got them missing free throws and Kenny Garvey hit a clutch three there at end, but at that point it was almost too little, too late. Our kids didn’t quit though, and I’m proud of them for that. I know we missed a ton of layups throughout the game and that would have been a huge difference — just two more makes.
“But, we just have to take a look at things, but we don’t have a lot of time to dwell on this. We have to immediately focus on DCC (in consolation game now).”