It was deja vu all over again for the North Adams Green Devils in the Dec. 30 varsity boys championship game of the 2015 McDonald’s Classic. Looking to give the Seaman school a clean sweep of all the Classic titles, the Devils took the floor for the second time this season to battle their arch-rival, the Peebles Indians. In the season opener for both teams back in early December, the Devils held a late lead only to see the Indians rally for the win and it happened again last Wednesday night.
Leading by five heading into the fourth quarter, the Devils only managed two points in the final eight minutes while the Indians were putting up 18 to flip the scoreboard and give Peebles the 2015 McDonald’s Classic title with a 57-46 victory.
“You can see by the crowd here tonight that this tournament is a big deal,” said Peebles head coach Josh Arey. “That’s when the game is fun no matter who we are playing. It was a little stressful as a coach, though. Any time you play in this atmosphere and have to come back to win like we did, it’s a good test for your team.”
“They were being so patient that when we went to our end we rushed some shots trying to score quick, which was a credit to North Adams. Basketball is a game of runs and when you play a good team, you just hope that you are the last team standing.”
A packed house greeted both squads as they took the floor at North Adams and the Peebles faithful were up quickly as the Indians ran a lob play on their first possession that ended in an easy bucket for Scout Kremin. A three-pointer by Tanner Arey at the 6:35 mark put the Indians up 5-2 and when Arey hit again from deep, Peebles opened up a 10-4 advantage.
After the Devils got a score from Isaiah Anderson, Peebles answered with scores in the paint from Kremin and Tyler Ryan, forcing North Adams coach Nathan Copas to burn a timeout with his team down 14-6. Whatever Copas said during the break was taken to heart by his squad as three pointers by Justin Knechtly and Trey Meade fueled a 8-2 run to end the first quarter and pull the host team within 16-14.
Coming out of the quarter break, it was Arey who caught fire as the sophomore guard drilled two more treys to quickly stretch the Peebles lead back out to 22-14. The back and forth play continued as the Devils, down 24-15, went on a 6-0 run to pull back within three and a basket by Camron Gordley sent the two teams to halftime with the Indians still in front, 26-21.
Again, the instructions of Coach Copas must have been heeded at the break as the Green Devils turned in an inspired third quarter, outscoring the Indians 23-13. It only took one trip on the Devils’ first possession to tie the score as Mikey Sheeley hit a jumper and on the play, Kremin picked up his third foul, giving the ball back to North Adams. Anderson promptly hit a three and the game was tied and momentum quickly on the side of the Devils.
Baskets by Trey Meade and Sheeley gave North Adams their first lead of the game at 30-28 and forced Coach Arey to use a timeout to stop the bleeding. After the timeout, Arey drilled another three to put Peebles back on top, but North Adams answered with consecutive buckets from Knechtly and Anderson to go back in front as the excitement in the gymnasium continued to build.
The advantage went right back to Peebles when senior Tucker Schmitz hit back to back threes to put his team up 37-34, but North Adams answered with a 10-2 run and the third period closed with North Adams holding the momentum and the lead at 44-39.
Basketball can be a funny game and fans can never predict what will happen next and never was that statement more true than in the final quarter of this championship game. After dominating the third period and taking a five-point lead into the final eight minutes, everything fell apart for the Green Devils as they only scored two points in the entire span, and Anderson basket with 2:35 to play.
Peebles scored the first 15 points of the fourth quarter, a run that included a three-pointer from Ethan Parrett and scores on their first six possessions of the stanza. That run turned a North Adams lead into a double digit Peebles lead as the Green Devils and their fans were shell-shocked. The Anderson basket made it 54-46 but that was all for the host squad as a Kremin bucket and a Gordley free throw closed out the game as the Indians pulled off a remarkable 57-46 comeback victory to defend their Holiday Classic title.
In the title triumph, the Indians (8-0) placed three players in double figures, led by Classic MVP Tanner Arey, who poured in 19 points, including five three-point goals. Joining Arey on the All-tournament Team was Camron Gordley, who chipped in with 13 points in the championship game. Scout Kremin, despite battling foul trouble, also reached double figures with 12. The Indians were dialed in from long distance in the win, hitting a total of eight three-point shots.
“When Scout is on the floor, we are a different basketball team,” said Coach Arey. “He is the difference in our ball club and he and Tyler Ryan inside together make us pretty special. When Camron is open, we have to continue to get him the ball and Tanner is an excellent shooter and our kids did a good job of finding him tonight on the perimeter.”
North Adams (5-4) placed two players on the Classic All-Tourney Team and they were the two leading scorers in the title game defeat, Trey Meade with 16 points and Isaiah Anderson with 15.
Both teams were back in action on Sat. Jan. 2 as the Indians suffered their first loss of the 2015-16 season, falling to Eastern Pike 68-54. The Green Devils got a comeback win at Huntington, topping the Huntsmen 52-46.
PHS 16 10 13 18 —57
NAHS 14 7 23 2 —46
PHS (57): Schmitz 2 0-0 6, Arey 7 0-0 19, Parrett 2 0-0 5, Kremin 5 2-4 12, Ryan 1 0-0 2, Gordley 6 1-4 13, Team 23 3-8 57.
NAHS (46): Anderson 7 0-0 15, Sheeley 3 0-0 6, Knechtly 3 0-0 7, Gingerich 1 0-1 2, T. Meade 6 3-4 16, Team 20 3-5 46.
PHS- Schmitz 2, Arey 5, Parrett 1
NAHS- Knechtly 1, T. Meade 1`, Anderson 1