MCS boys post hoop victories

By John Bernhardt
The Margaretville Blue Devils found themselves at the top of the Delaware League’s Upper Division Friday night after a 48-42 win on the road in Stamford.

The win concluded a harrowing week of basketball that saw the Blue Devils survive a scare with an overtime win in Davenport and then come from behind in the second half to down Stamford.

The common denominator in both victories was hard-nosed, stingy defense. With the Wildcats’ den rocking Wednesday night after Davenport hit three, three-point goals during the final two minutes of regulation play to send the game to overtime; Margaretville cranked up their play and shut the home team out in the extra session. With first place on the line Friday night in Stamford and the Indians leading, 37-32, early in the fourth quarter, swarming defensive play limited the home team to only five points the rest of the way as Margaretville caught and passed the Indians for the victory.

Kyle Short’s pinpoint shooting was a big part of the story Wednesday night in Davenport. Short buried four three-point goals, two in a first quarter when Margaretville raced to a 14-6 lead. Davenport erased the Blue Devil advantage to knot the score at 18-18 by the half.

The game slowed to a crawl during the second half with both teams struggling to score. A two-point goal and foul shot were Davenport’s only points in the third quarter. Margaretville had troubles of their own on the offensive end only netting nine points in the quarter.

Short would hit his fourth, three-pointer and Sanford scored from in close against a Travis Briggs Davenport score during the first six minutes of the final period. Slow closeout reaction time cost Margaretville as the clock wound down. Justin Fisher took advantage hitting a three-point goal followed by a second long-range bomb by Corey Hartman. Fisher tied the score with an old-fashioned ‘and one’ three-point score in the final seconds of regulation time.

Inside edge
Margaretville pounded the ball inside during the extra frame with Ryan Sanford making a shot in traffic and hitting a foul shot to break the tie. Two Mitch Hull inside baskets pushed the Blue Devils’ margin to 39-32. From there it was six of seven shooting from the line by Short to nail down the win.

Short led all scorers netting 20 points. Hull added 13 and Sanford 10 for the victors.
There were nine lead changes during Friday’s showdown in Stamford. Only an eight-point first period effort by Stamford’s Greg Mattice kept the Indians close during the early going. Even so, Margaretville built a 16-10 lead by the quarter break. Four Blue Devils found the scorebook led by Ryan Sanford’s six first-period points. Matt VanValkenburg’s passing had much to do with Margaretville’s early output.

Two Sanford foul shots to start the second frame gave Margaretville their biggest lead of the night, 18-10. Greg Keating answered with a three-point score for Stamford.

Stamford stormed back scoring seven unanswered points to tie the score at 20-20. A Sanford foul shot momentarily put Margaretville back on top, but Mattice found Sean Vroman for an inside shot seconds before the halftime buzzer sending Stamford to the locker room at the half ahead by a point.

Playing a key role
Dylan Schaffer was a spark plug off the Blue Devil bench netting two of three foul shots to reignite Margaretville’s offense with 2:22 to play in the third quarter. Shaffer drove the middle to the lane and hit a running bank shot drawing the Blue Devils within two, then hit Short for another three-pointer putting Margaretville back in front, 30-29 at the quarter break.

Margaretville’s Hull and Stamford’s Dustin King traded inside scores before VanValkenburg kicked a pass to Short at the top of the key for a three-point score. Cooper Reither downed a second trey from in front of the Margaretville bench with 3:36 to play and the Blue Devils led, 38-37.

Clutch shooting
Short was fouled making a three-point attempt and hit all three foul shots pushing the lead to four with a minute left. A homerun pass finding Reither behind Stamford’s pressing defense for a lay-up and foul shot with 48 seconds to play stretched the Margaretville lead to 44-37.

Stamford provided some white-knuckle moments when Erik Erhart buried a three-point score, and after Margaretville missed the front end of a one and one, Erhart drove the hoop and was fouled. His two foul shots narrowed Margaretville’s lead to 44-42 with 29 seconds still on the clock.
When Margaretville missed the front end of another one-on-one five seconds later, Sanford snatched a critical offensive rebound. The Blue Devils kept the ball in Short’s hands as the clock ran down and Short responded by netting three of four from the foul line to seal the win.

Short led a balanced Blue Devils’ attack scoring 12 points. Sanford hit 11, all in the first half, with Reither netting 10, Hull eight and Shaffer six.
Margaretville hosts Roxbury tomorrow night.