Devils move to title game with thrilling 69-63 win over Peebles –
By Mark Carpenter –
It is pretty common knowledge in the county that when the North Adams and Peebles boys basketball teams match up, you can throw the records out the window. Coming into last Friday’s McDonald’s Classic semi-final match up, the Indians had won five of their first six games while the Green Devils had dropped five of their first eight, but when the official tossed the ball up to tip off on Friday, it became the county rivalry game that once again did not disappoint.
When these two teams met in the finals of last year’s Classic, it was the Indians pulling out an 82-76 double overtime win. On Friday, it was the Devils’ turn to return the favor. After some late heroics in regulation by North Adams’ Elijah Young forced overtime, it again took two extra periods to decide a winner and this time it was the Devils who moved on to the Classic title game for the third consecutive season, holding off the Indians by a final score of 69-63.
“It has been the story of our season so far, not scoring early but we stay close enough that if we just make some plays, we’re right there,” said North Adams head coach Nathan Copas in a postgame interview. “We hit some big shots tonight and we came out on top.”
“We don’t have a 30-point scorer but we have four or five guys who can hit double figures night in and night out. Everyone has to chip in on the offensive end. We have been struggling mentally a lot and we needed a win.”
It was obvious from the beginning that these two squads were going to battle down to the wire as a back and forth first quarter saw scores on the first five combined possessions of the game. The star of the opening stanza was North Adams senior Ryan Shupert, who drilled a trifecta of three-pointers that gave his team an 11-8 lead, which Peebles quickly erased with a 6-0 run, leading to the Indians grabbing a 16-13 lead at the end of the first period.
The Green Devils tied the game at 16 early in the second period, but another 6-0 Peebles run, capped by a stick back by Colten Ball, gave the lead back to the Indians. North Adams erased that deficit with six straight of their own, baskets by Michael Gill, Austin McCormick, and Colt Shumaker, but the Indians answered with another 6-0 spurt, baskets by Ball, Conner Browning, and Bostin Robinson, and moved in front 28-22.
After a jumper by Jacob Call, the Devils got the ball back with 39.8 seconds left in the half, and Coach Copas elected to hold for one shot, but that strategy backfired when his team instead turned the ball over twice and then fouled Peebles’ Tanner Arey as he fired in a three-pointer. Arey sank the ensuing free throw and momentum went to the locker room with the Indians along with a 32-24 lead.
That lead stretched to double figures on a bucket by Blake Hawes to begin the third period, but the Devils one-upped that with a Shupert trey on their first possession. A later three-point play by Ball kept the Indians on top at 39-31, but a put back by Shumaker and a long Dylan Ison “3” pulled the Devils to within 40-36 and fans were beginning to sense they were going to see one exciting finish. Matching pairs of free throws by McCormick and Ball left Peebles with a 43-38 lead after three quarters.
The final eight minutes of regulation could only be described as heart-stopping for either side and their faithful. An Ison trey on the first North Adams possession was followed by a pair of Arey free throw, followed by buckets by the Devils’ Young and McCormick that drew their team within 47-45, but an ensuing steal that resulted in a three-point play by Weston Browning gave Peebles some breathing room.
Back came the Devils, with another Ison three and a McCormick layup to get back to within 54-52. After two Robinson free throws, McCormick got the “and one” , with two Arey foul shots keeping the Peebles lead at three points with 36.7 seconds left. A basket by Young cut the Indian lead back to one. Browning was fouled and hit one of two to make it 59-57, but on the other end, Young was fouled shooting a three and hit two of the three shots from the stripe to tie the game with 3.8 seconds to go.
Peebles called a timeout with 1.1 seconds on the clock but turned the ball over on the inbounds pass, giving the Devils one more shot, but a long heave by Shupert was short and the game headed to overtime.
The story of the first overtime is short and sweet. After controlling the tip, Coach Arey decided to hold the ball and try to force the Devils out of their zone. Coach Copas called the bluff and his players never moved while Weston Browning stood just inside midcourt with the ball held on his hip. Finally, with under 20 seconds left, the Indians made a move to the basket and Shumaker made a huge play for the Devils, blocking a shot on a baseline drive by Arey to send the contest into a second extra frame.
The Devils struck first in the second OT and a three-pointer by Young gave them a 63-59 advantage. After an Arey bucket, an Ison trey and a McCormick free throw pushed the North Adams lead out to 67-61 with 1:38 left. Free throws by Arey and Robinson turned out to be the final Peebles points as the Devils sealed the deal from the stripe and held on to move to 16th Classic title game, downing the favored Indians 69-63.
The Devils won the game from beyond the three-point arc, hitting nine treys while the Indians managed only one. Leading three North Adams players in double figures, was McCormick with 23. Ison tallied 14 and Shupert 13, with Elijah Young adding 9.
Peebles also had three players reach double figures, led by Arey with 20, with Robinson and Ball getting 13 and 10 respectively. Weston Browning and Blake Hawes each scored 8 for the Indians.
The win, which counted in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference standings, improved the Green Devils to 3-5 on the year, 2-4 in the SHAC. Peebles fell to 5-2, 5-1 in conference play.
16 16 11 16 0 4 –63
13 11 14 21 0 10 –69
Peebles (63): C. Browning 1 0-0 2, Shiveley 1 0-0 2, Arey 5 9-13 20, Ball 3 4-6 10, Robinson 5 3-5 13, Hawes 4 0-0 8, W. Browning 3 2-3 8, Team 22 18-27 53.
N. Adams (69): C. Young 0 1-2 1, Call 1 0-0 2, Shupert 4 1-2 13, Ison 5 0-2 14, E. Young 3 2-3 9, Shumaker 3 0-1 6, Gill 1 0-0 2, McCormick 7 8-13 23, Team 24 12-23 69.
Peebles (1): Arey 1
N. Adams (9): Shupert 4, Ison 4, E. Young 1