Young drive, Shupert trey key to North Adams ‘W’ –
By Mark Carpenter –
During the 2016-17 season, Coach Nathan Copas and his North Adams Green Devils went to overtime a remarkable nine times. In Tuesday night, they made their first foray into an extra period for the 2017-18 campaign. Hosting the Fayetteville Rockets in their first Southern Hills Athletic Conference match up of the season, the Devils looked all but dead for three and a half quarters, but a pair of clutch shots, one by junior Elijah Young at the end of regulation and one by senior Ryan Shupert at the end of overtime, allowed North Adams to pull victory from the jaws of defeat and knock off the visiting Rockets 43-41.
“Fayetteville is such a big and thick team,” said Coach Copas. “We wanted to keep the tempo up tonight, but we got ourselves in trouble taking some quick shots that weren’t going in. We needed to move that ball round a little more against their zone at times.”
“We got the ‘W’, which is a good thing,” added Copas. “I think our kids understand that we still have to get better on the offensive end. We’ve got energy, but you’re not going to survive many nights scoring 43 points. This conference is too good offensively to get away with that, especially if we want to play up-tempo.”
For both teams on Tuesday night, offense was at a premium, with the Devils actually overcoming a second quarter in which they scored just a single point, a rare occurrence at the varsity level. The game began with the Rockets jumping to a 6-1 lead, which vanished when the Devils’ Austin McCormick scored five points on one trip down the court, thanks in part to a technical foul whistled on Fayetteville big man Zak Smyth.
Another McCormick score and a basket by Michael Gill kept the game tied at 10 apiece after one period, setting up a putrid second stanza for the North Adams offense. Shooting just 3 for 19 from the floor in the first half, the Devils were outscored 10-1 in the second period, getting just a Colt Shumaker free throw and finding themselves trailing at the halftime break by a score of 20-11.
Perhaps the 10-minute respite rejuvenated the home team, as they scored as many points in the third quarter as they had the entire first half. After two Christopher Murphy free throws put the Rockets up 22-13, the Devils went on a 9-0 run, fueled by a three-point goal by Jacob Call and an Elijah Young put back score, and the game was all even again, this time at 22.
That tie dissolved quickly in the final two minutes of the third quarter, as the Devils again went cold from the floor, and the Rockets hit five of six free throws to take a 27-22 advantage into the final eight minutes of play, an eight minutes that provided more excitement than the first three combined.
As the final period began, the Devils grabbed the momentum as a Shupert three ball and a McCormick basket after a Gill steal, tied the score at 27 with 6:12 to play. Back came the Rockets with baskets by Murphy and Luke Wiederhold to take a four-point lead, but a driving bucket by Young sliced that lead in half with exactly two minutes on the clock.
Another Wiederhold score put Fayetteville back up by four, but when they got the ball back after a defensive stop, the Rockets missed the front end of a one-and-one situation, keeping the North Adams hopes alive. Though he does most of his work in the paint, with 16.7 seconds to go, McCormick stepped out to the win and drained a three-point shot to make it 33-32. Fayetteville’s C.J. McCulley was fouled and made one of two from the stripe, but the long rebound on his miss went back to the Rockets and Bowen Doane was fouled with 8.7 seconds to go. Doane missed the front end of the bonus and the Devils grabbed the rebound and called timeout with 6.7 ticks left.
After the Rockets also called a timeout to set their defense, the ball was inbounded to the Devils’ Elijah Young, who decided just to take matters into his own hand, and drove the length of the court, splitting a pair of defenders near the rim, and dropping in a left-handed shot at the horn to tie the score at 34 and send the battle into overtime.
With under two minutes to go in the extra period, McCormick found Young on a perfect backdoor cut for the basket that gave the Devils their first lead of the entire game at 38-37. A driving, acrobatic bucket by Murphy gave the lead right back to the Rockets, but a pair of McCormick free throws put North Adams back up 40-39 , but that was followed by Murphy hitting again to give Fayetteville a 41-40 advantage with 32.1 seconds to go in OT.
With the possession, the Devils looked for any kind of opening to get off a game-winner, and finally found Shupert alone in the corner right in front of the North Adams bench. The senior calmly lined up the shot and his three-point attempt was nothing but net, giving his team a 43-41 lead with 10 seconds to play, enough time for the Rockets to get off another shot. With the ball in Murphy’s hands, the North Adams defense would not allow him into the front court and a desperation heave from near mid court bounced off the rim and set off a joyous celebration on the North Adams side as the Devils had rallied an pulled off the thrilling two-point victory for their first “W” of the season.
“We play with a lot of energy,” said Coach Copas. “This is probably as hard as I’ve seen a North Adams team play in a long while collectively. Sometimes, though, that energy gets us in trouble, making passes we shouldn’t make or taking shots we shouldn’t take. If we can get smarter on the court at time and make decisions, we will be fine.”
The victorious Devils only placed on player in double figures, but it was a big night for sophomore Austin McCormick, who accounted for nearly half of the North Adams points, leading all scorers with 20. Elijah Young scored 9 and Ryan Shupert 6 for the winners.
Fayetteville was paced by 19 points from their own super sophomore, Christopher Murphy, who seems to be able to get to the rim at will and contort his way to all kinds of shots. Also in double figures for the Rockets was Luke Wiederhold with 11.
The win in the varsity game made it a triple header sweep for the Green Devils as they won the freshman game 47-16, behind 13 points from Fulton Kennedy, and a 16 point game from Cameron Young led North Adams to a 52-22 win in the junior varsity contest.
With one exciting SHAC win under their belt, the road gets no easier for Coach Copas and his troops. On Friday, Dec. 8, they play their first conference road game and it is a tough one, traveling to Eastern Brown to play the conference pre-season favorite Warriors. The Devils will be on the road again on Tuesday, Dec. 12 as they travel to Huntington Ross for a non-conference affair.
10 10 7 7 7 –41
10 1 11 12 9 –43
Fayetteville (41): Doane 1 0-1 2, Wiederhold 5 1-4 11, Murphy 6 7-8 19, McCulley 2 1-3 5, Shelton 1 0-0 2, Smyth 0 2-2 2, Team 15 11-18 41.
N. Adams (43): Call 1 0-0 3, Shupert 2 0-0 6, Ison 1 0-0 2, E. Young 4 1-3 9, Shumaker 0 1-2 1, Gill 1 0-0 2, McCormick 7 5-5 20, Team 16 7-10 43.
N. Adams (4): Call 1, Shupert 2, McCormick 1