No. 1 Davenport holds off Blue Devils in hard fought hoop contest

By John Bernhardt
Why stop now? Last Thursday, the Margaretville Blue Devils boys’ basketball team continued its pattern of madcap hardwood adventures through the last regular season contest of the year. The Blue Devils failed to convert the winning field goal in three attempts during the final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter, then fell, 49-45, in overtime to first place Davenport.
Thursday’s contest was a well-played and exciting basketball game. Even though they came up short, Margaretville’s regular season ending game should provide the Blue Devils with a shot in the arm. Margaretville, 12-5 on the season, battled the once-beaten Wildcats basket for basket all night long.
Hooper Cooper: Cooper Reither's aggressive shooting has won several knuckle-biters for the Devils this year but failed to put them over the top in this hard fought game with no. 1 Davenport. – Photos by Dick SanfordHooper Cooper: Cooper Reither's aggressive shooting has won several knuckle-biters for the Devils this year but failed to put them over the top in this hard fought game with no. 1 Davenport. – Photos by Dick Sanford
Shooting falls short
As it has the entire season, Margaretville depended on the long shot, scoring 30 of 45 points from beyond the three-point arch. Davenport found the mark six times from long range. There is a price that’s paid when a team depends primarily on a long-range arsenal, a dearth of foul shots. That, too, played out on Thursday when the Blue Devils shot only three foul shots, making all three, to 16 for the Wildcats.
The Blue Devils, who were hammered off the backboards in recent contests, rebounded almost evenly with Davenport, pulling 28 missed shots off the boards to the Wildcats 31, a positive sign heading into the post-season playoffs.
A controversial shot played a huge role in the final outcome. With Margaretville leading, 35-31, and time running out in the third quarter, Davenport was working the ball, seeking a final shot in the quarter. It was Josh Davi who would launch the ball in the air, a three-point attempt beyond the arch in the left corner. Margaretville’s Dylan Shaffer, closing out hard to defend the shot, ran into Davi after the Davenport forward had released the ball, drawing a foul.
High Pass: Margaretville’s Dylan Shaffer sends a pass during a February 6 contest against Charlotte Valley. Defending is Kyle Moorby.High Pass: Margaretville’s Dylan Shaffer sends a pass during a February 6 contest against Charlotte Valley. Defending is Kyle Moorby.
Davi’s shot bounced off the front of the rim high into the air then dropped through the nets for the score. Margaretville coach Jeremey Marks appealed strenuously believing the ball had bounced off the shot clock that sits atop the backboard. Marks’ protests were to no avail, and when Davi dropped in the foul shot, the game was tied at 35-35.
Neither team could gain offensive traction in the fourth quarter. After almost four scoreless minutes of play, Kyle Moorby turned a steal into a layup, giving the Wildcats a two-point lead. Margaretville’s Eric Mathiesen found Shaffer in the lane, and the Blue Devil senior canned a short turn-around jumper to knot the score at 37-37 with 2:55 to play.
Wildcat guard Matthew Finne went high, leaping over two Blue Devil defenders, to tip in a missed shot and give Davenport back the lead 30 seconds later. Mathiesen answered with a rebound put back of his own with 1:42 left on the clock to even the score again. Margaretville worked the final 18 seconds off the clock, missing three potential game winners during the last 10 seconds to send the game into overtime.
Davi’s two foul shots 41 seconds into overtime gave Davenport back the lead. Mathiesen continued his hot hand, his three-point goal giving Margaretville their final lead of the game, 42-41, with 2:59 to play.
Davi found enough open room to can his second three-point goal and Davenport was back on top, 44-42, on the next possession. A defensive lapse when no Blue Devil handled deep defensive responsibilities after a missed offensive shot allowed an uncontested Finne lay-up with 2:03 to play.
Margaretville’s Kyle Short swished his fourth three-point shot of the night drawing the Blue Devils within a single point at 46-45 with 46 seconds remaining. A Moorby jumper just inside the foul line and one-of-two foul shots by Chris Kopf sealed the deal for Davenport.
The two teams traded baskets, exchanging field goals for five consecutive lead changes in the first quarter. A Moorby buzzer beater gave the Wildcats a 16-15 lead at the quarter break.
After two Finne foul shots extended the Wildcat lead to 18-15 at the start of the second quarter, back-to-back Margaretville three-point goals by Matt VanValkenburg gave the Blue Devils back the lead. A slashing Shaffer drive off a three-man weave pushed the Blue Devil lead to five points.
Moorby hit one of two foul shots, but a Short three-point bomb gave Margaretville their biggest lead of the game, 26-19, at the intermission.
Short led Margaretville scorers with 12 points with VanValkenburg netting 10 and Schaffer eight.
Finne led all scores with 15 points for Davenport. Moorby and Davi reached double figures adding 12 and 11.
Davenport advances to Friday’s DL championship game at SUNY Delhi. The Blue Devils begin preparations for an opening round Sectional game on Tuesday, Feb. 18.