Monday, September 01, 2014

Eagle boys hold off Falcons

By Greg Mast/Herald Sports Editor | 3/5/2014

WELLSVILLE — Two teams went toe-to-toe with respect for one another. It was a rivalry. Wellsville vs. West Franklin.

The season hung in the balance with the loser’s season coming to an end in Monday’s first-round sub-state game in Wellsville.

WELLSVILLE — Two teams went toe-to-toe with respect for one another. It was a rivalry. Wellsville vs. West Franklin.

The season hung in the balance with the loser’s season coming to an end in Monday’s first-round sub-state game in Wellsville.

It was a beauty. Wellsville led by a point until the final 30 seconds. The Eagles drained six free throws to keep the Falcons at bay in the 53-48 victory.

“We showed some grit,” Wellsville coach Thatcher Decker said. “West Franklin was the worst draw we could get. It is a rivalry. They were going to play hard. We had them down 12 twice and could not put them away. Our press in the first half was as good as it looked all year. I knew it would be a battle.”

West Franklin coach James Spencer saw his team just come up short.

“We left it out there,” he said. “They found a way to pull it out. It was fun to watch. There is a lot of time, effort and hardwork put in by both teams.”

Wellsville (18-3) became very patient with the ball and decided to hold it in the final few minutes and relied on its free throws.

“They did a good job at the end of executing what they wanted to do,” Spencer said. “We let too much time run off there. We did not want to foul a couple of guys. Hats off to them.”

Decker said his veteran team understood how to win a close game.

“We did what we had to do to win,” Decker said. “We are senior-led. Even the juniors are battle-tested. We went to the rim. We did not shoot the ball well and we struggled. We are becoming smart enough and disciplined enough to attack the basket.”

Wellsville’s press keyed the Eagles to a 34-21 lead late in the first half. The Falcons (10-11) used a 10-0 run to close within 34-31 early in the second half.

“We gave up too many plays,” Spencer said. “You can’t turn the ball over on your own end. They had us sped up. Our kids overcame it and came back and tied the ballgame. We made it a game in the second half.”

Both coaches began to look ahead when the game was over. Spencer said it will be tough losing senior Matt Gray, but he has a nice core of players returning next year.

Decker turned his thoughts to today’s semifinal against Humboldt.

“Humboldt is a good team,” he said. “They are used to winning. Great tradition. We have to beat two more really good teams to get to the promised land.”

West Franklin (48) — Gray 12, Rogers 5, Altic 12, Duda 10, Short 3, Homer 6.

Wellsville (53) — Mann 13, Kearney 17, Silsby 10, Klamm 13.

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