Junior guard fires in 36, leads late rally to championship –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
A packed house of excited basketball fans. Two heated but friendly county rivals ready to battle for bragging rights for the next year. It was a recipe for basketball excitement that turned out just as expected last Friday night at Peebles High School. Mix in hustle and intensity on both sides plus a few clutch plays under pressure and the finished product is exactly what the audience requested.
It was championship night and the finale of the 2016 McDonald’s Classic on Dec. 30 when the North Adams Green Devils and Peebles Indians took the hardwood, renewing a rivalry for the first time in the 2016-17 campaign. The contest turned out to be just as advertised as a thrilling roller coaster of a game lasted into two overtimes, and two guards put on offensive shows, before the Indians finally pulled out a thrilling 82-76 victory, thereby claiming their fourth consecutive Classic title.
There were heroes to be found everywhere in this title game, beginning with the exploits of Peebles junior guard Tanner Arey who almost single-handedly kept his team in the game in the fourth quarter and overtime and finished with 36 points, a performance that earned him Most Valuable Player honors in the Classic. There was Peebles’ Bostin Robinson, who scored 16 first-half points to pick up the slack while the team’s big guns were struggling. On the North Adams side, senior guard Isaiah Anderson poured in 27 points to keep his team in the fray, while junior forward Colt Shumaker played perhaps the best game of his varsity career, scoring 16 before fouling out, which included three clutch buckets in the fourth quarter and the Devil’s Justin Knechtly coming off the bench to score 12 important points to keep his team close.
“It really was an instant classic,” said Peebles head coach Josh Arey in his post game radio talk. “It was a tremendous back and forth ball game by both teams, with a little extra basketball for everybody times two. If you would have told me halfway through the second quarter that this game was going to end up 82-76, I’d have told you that you were crazy the way the pace was going at that point. We tried to speed them up and it didn’t work and that is a credit to Coach Nathan Copas and his kids.”
“It was like a heavyweight boxing match with both teams just feeling each other out and winning a few rounds. Nathan’s teams play hard and you are going to get their best every night and they were really good tonight.”
It was Robinson who got the Indians off to a great start, scoring three quick baskets to give the host team a 6-0 advantage. That lead later stretched to 10-3 on Arey’s first basket of the game but the Devils bounced back with buckets by Elijah Young and Logan Rogers, but an Arey three-pointer, the first of his seven on the night, send the Indians to the first quarter break holding a 15-7 lead.
A jumper by Robinson 40 seconds into the second stanza put the Peebles lead in double digits, before a Shumaker score and a basket by Justin Knechtly got the Devils back within six. That didn’t last long, however, as a basket by Ethan Parrett and then back to back three-point plays by Robinson got the Indian faithful in a frenzy as their team moved in front 25-11 and looked to be in control.
“If it wasn’t for Bostin in the first half, the score is probably reversed,” added Coach Arey. “He took the ball to the basket hard and had to guard Isaiah Anderson all night on top of everything.”
Back came the “never-say-die” Devils, with Knechtly nailing a trey to begin an 8-2 North Adams run to end the first half. Another Knechtly three plus a late score by Anderson cut the Peebles halftime lead down to 27-21 and seemed to switch some momentum to the Devils’s side.
That momentum stayed on the Devils’s side as they came out “guns-a-blazing” in the third quarter and dominated play, outscoring the Indians 18-8. The roll began with two baskets by Shumaker and another by freshman Austin McCormick, before an Arey triple kept Peebles up five at 32-27. North Adams then reeled off eight of the game’s next 10 points, and a basket by Knechtly at the 2:57 mark of the third gave the Devils their first lead of the game at 35-34 and brought the North Adams side of the gym to their feet.
A stick back basket by Shumaker stretched the advantage to three and when Anderson laid one in late in the period, North Adams led 39-35 with eight minutes to go, and what an exciting eight minutes that turned out to be.
The Devils opened the final quarter with a 5-2 spurt , forcing Coach Arey to use a timeout with his team now down by seven. A nice drive down the lane and score by Shumaker kept the guests up seven with 4:20 to play, before the Arey heroics began that simply changed everything. In the next two minutes, the Peebles guard drained a trio of clutch three-pointers, the last of those giving the lead back to his team at 50-48 with two minutes to go.
Shumaker scored to tie the game at 50, setting up a wild final minute of regulation. Two Logan Gordley free throws put Peebles back in front, and after a North Adams miss, the Indians’ Camron Gordley was called for a charge and a following drive and bank shot by the Devil’s Patrick England tied the game at 52 with 15 seconds left. A last-second shot by Arey was off the mark and in the ensuing scramble for the rebound, the clock ran out, sending the game into a first overtime.
The first extra period began with a three-point play by Arey and then a basket by Young for North Adams. Camron Gordley hit two free throws, but then later missed a pair that preceded a 6-0 North Adams run that gave the Devils a 60-57 lead with 40 seconds to go in the OT.
That set up one of Arey’s biggest shots of his career as he hit a step back three-pointer from the corner to tie the game and after Gordley missed two more from the line, Anderson missed at the horn and the two teams fittingly were headed into a second extra period.
The second extra frame began on quite a high note for the Indians. Arey was fouled while attempting a three-point shot, and hit the first two from the line, missed the third but grabbed his own rebound and scored for a four-point play that gave Peebles a lead they would never relinquish. Arey fired in another three to put the Indians up 67-62 and from that point forward, the game became a parade to the free throw line. Down the stretch, the Indians hit eight from the stripe and a last second three-pointer by Anderson left the Devils still short, as the Indians pulled off another Classic championship, outlasting their rival in double overtime, 82-76.
In his MVP performance, Arey led the winner with his 36 points, 26 of which came in the fourth quarter and the overtimes. With his huge first half performance, Robinson finished with 19 points and though it was somewhat of an off night for him, Camron Gordley still tallied 17 for the winners.
Speaking of his son Tanner’s performance, Coach Arey said, “I don’t say ‘wow’ very often, but ‘wow.’ It got to the pointing the game where we were down seven and I looked at him during a timeout and I told him to get us back in it and he did in a big way. It just shows that hard work pays off, he puts in a ton of time and was able to get some looks and knock down some huge shots for us tonight.”
“It just doesn’t get any better than Peebles and North Adams. We are nine miles apart and the rivalry has grown through the years and it’s a lot of fun whenever we get together. You could tell by the crowd here tonight how huge this tournament and this game were.”
Anderson’s 27 led North Adams, with Shumaker adding 16, Knechtly 12, and McCormick 10.
Peebles improved to 5-2 on the season while North Adams fell to 5-5.
After the game, the Classic All-Tournament Team was announced, with Arey being named MVP and joined on the squad by teammate Camron Gordley. From North Adams, it was Anderson and a very deserving Shumaker and rounding out the team were West Union’s Elijah McCarty and Manchester’s Colton Thornburg.
For local basketball fans, circle Feb. 10 on your calendars as that is when Peebles and North Adams meet up again, this time in Southern Hills Athletic conference play and this time at North Adams.
7 14 18 13 8 16 –76
15 12 8 17 8 22 –82
N. Adams (76): Anderson 10 5-8 27, England 1 0-0 2, Knechtly 5 0-0 12, Young 2 3-4 7, Shumaker 8 0-3 16, Rogers 1 0-0 2, McCormick 4 2-2 10, Team 31 10-17 76.
Peebles (82): Arey 11 7-9 36, Robinson 7 5-5 19, Parrett 1 2-2 4, Stone 1 0-0 2, L. Gordley 0 4-4 4, C. Gordley 5 7-17 17, Team 25 25-37 82.
N. Adams (4): Anderson 2, Knechtly 2
Peebles (7): Arey 7