It was the perfect setting for a boys’ basketball season opener on Tuesday, Dec. 1 at North Adams High School. Two county rivals and a packed house electric with excitement added up to a memorable evening as the Indians rallied in the fourth quarter to pull out a 52-47 win over the Green Devils. Despite both teams missing a pair of starters due to injury, the game was a down-to-the-wire affair, decided only in the final minute of play.
“I think both teams here tonight will be extremely good,” said Peebles head coach Josh Arey in his post game radio interview. “Nathan (Copas) does a great job with his kids and we both dealt with a lot of injuries tonight so when we play each other again, you’ll see two different teams on the court.”
“I thought we held our poise well but we would have liked to have come out and done some trapping early but we felt like we were a little thin on the bench. We have some experienced kids back and I think it showed in the fourth quarter. We never quit and we work on those situations in practice.”
The game began with an all-Peebles flavor as the Indians scored the first five points out of the gate and held the Devils scoreless for nearly five minutes. North Adams finally got on the board when Justin Knechtly drilled a three from the right wing, but right back down the floor, Peebles guard Jase Conley matched that trey with one of his own and an 8-3 Peebles lead. a put back bucket by Scout Kremin extended the Peebles lead to seven, before baskets on the inside by Trey Meade and Brandon Gingerich began a North Adams rally. When Patrick England drained a three at the horn, the Devils had cut the deficit to 14-10.
Peebles opened the second period with a pair of Kremin baskets to go back up by eight, but the Green Devils scored the next seven, four of them from the free throw line from Meade and it was suddenly a one-point ball game. A jumper by Ethan Parrett kept Peebles on top and a later bucket by Tyler Ryan put the Indians up 23-19, but the final basket of the half belonged to Meade and at the break, the visitors held on to a slim advantage at 23-21.
As expected the action heated up in the third quarter as a basket by Meade on the Devils’ first possession tied the game. After Camron Gordley rebounded his own miss and put it back in for a Peebles lead, Meade hit a floater in the lane to tie it again at 25.
With 4:12 left in the third quarter, a three-pointer from the top of the key by Isaiah Anderson gave the Devils their first lead of the night and when Knechtly repeated the act on the very next possession, the home side of the gym went nuts as momentum had turned and it was not North Adams holding the lead at 31-25.
An offensive rebound and basket by Meade with 1:13 left in the third kept the lead at six and when the suddenly unstoppable 6’6” senior scored again in the paint, the North Adams lead was 37-31. Shortly after, Peebles head coach Josh Arey was whistled for a technical foul and Meade sank both free throws and the third quarter ended with the Devils sitting pretty with a 39-31 advantage.
That lead swelled to double digits early in the final period on yet another offensive board and score, this time by Robert Lacy, but as often happens in the game of basketball, the tide of the game took yet another turn. Peebles reeled off the next seven points as the Indians stepped up the defense, catching the Devils off guard. With 3:23 to go, Kremin got loose inside for a basket that cut the North Adams lead to 43-41 and just over a minute later, the visitors’ side of the gym erupted when a Gordley jumper tied the game at 45.
After a North Adams turnover, a jumper from the elbow by Parrett gave the Indians their first lead since the 5:20 mark of the third quarter. A pair of Anderson free throws with 1:05 left deadlocked the score again at 47, but that was the last time the home team changed the numbers on the scoreboard.
A nice high-low look from Tyler Ryan to Kremin put the Indians in front for good and again, the Devils were in a giving spirit, turning the ball over which forced them to foul Gordley with 19 ticks remaining. Gordley hit both free throws to extend the lead to 51-47 and the Indians got the ball back again after Anderson missed a contested three. Gordley grabbed that rebound, was fouled and hit one out of two from the stripe to make the final score 52-47 in favor of the Indians.
“I thought that the confidence we played with to build a 10-point lead went out the window with about four minutes to go,” said North Adams head coach Nathan Copas. “We had unforced turnovers and quit looking to execute on the offensive end. In games like this, I need Isaiah (Anderson) to be the point guard I know he can be and as a team we have to play 32 minutes of confident and smart basketball.”
“I liked a great deal of what I saw tonight,” said Coach Arey. “I thought we played extremely hard and hit the offensive glass, but we just missed some open shots against their zone. I thought we played pretty well on defense and you just have to love what we did in the fourth quarter, and especially the play off the bench by Bostin Robinson and Logan Gordley.”
The victorious Indians were led in scoring by 15 points from Camron Gordley, with Scout Kremin also hitting double figures with 14. Subbing for the injured Tanner Arey, Jase Conley stepped up with a 9-point effort, while Ethan Parrett added 7 and Tyler Ryan 5.
For North Adams, Trey Meade was a force in the paint, leading all scorers with 23 points. Meade was the only Green Devil in double figures as Isaiah Anderson scored 8 and Justin Knechtly 6.
Tuesday night’s game was a non-conference contest, but both teams will get their first Southern Hills Athletic Conference action on Friday, Dec. 4. The Indians will be on the road at Whiteoak while North Adams will be back on the home court to host the Ripley Blue Jays.