By Mark Carpenter –
Two teams who have experienced their fair share of struggles thus far in the 2017-18 season met on Saturday night in the finale of the 2018 Coach Young Classic at North Adams High School. The host Green Devils always appear in the event’s final contest and on Saturday, they faced off with the Greenfield McClain Tigers from the Frontier Athletic Conference. The Tigers came into the game with only one win on the year, while North Adams had only picked up four victories, but the Green Devils have a strong history in the Young Classic and they picked up their fourth win in five Classic outings, topping the Tigers by a final count of 45-41.
The game was tight from start to finish, with the Devils rallying from a seven-point third quarter deficit, behind their unstoppable inside force in sophomore center Austin McCormick, who led all scorers with 19 points as the North Adams boys improved to 5-7 for the season.
“At this stage of the game, we will certainly take the win, but I wasn’t real happy with the performance,” said North Adams head coach Nathan Copas in his post game interview. “We are getting close to that sectional time and you’ve got to find yourself in a hurry. Early in the season, we were playing hard but the last few games, we just seem to have lost our edge, and we need to find that.”
“A lot of our kids were here all day and that may have played a little bit of a role and we hadn’t played for 11 days, but we have to overcome that.”
Speaking about the entire Coach Young Classic, Copas commented, “This is a special event. A lot of these kids never knew Coach Young and I try to keep his spirit alive as much as possible. I think of him quite often and I often get asked for my best Coach Young story, from playing for him and coaching with him.”
The first quarter of play foretold what was to come as the two teams went back and forth through six lead changes, with the Tigers getting a pair of three-pointers from junior guard Kobe Penwell and the Devils getting a trey from their junior guard Elijah Young. A nice baseline drive and reverse layup by Colt Shumaker gave the host team an 11-9 lead and after the first eight minutes of play, the two teams were all even at 13 apiece.
McCormick tallied the first four points of the second period to put his team back on top, but Greenfield came right back with five straight to retake the lead at 18-17. A Shumaker jumper flipped the scoreboard again, followed by the Tigers taking the lead back, then McCormick giving it back to the Devils. An acrobatic “basket and one” by Cody Rothwell put North Adams up 24-20, but again the Tigers rallied and at the half, the two teams stood right where they had when they started, all even, this time at 26.
In the third stanza, the Tigers began to creep away, holding North Adams to just a McCormick baskets over the first six minutes. Meanwhile, the visitors scored nine of their own and grabbed a 35-28 advantage, the biggest lead either team had the entire game. Again, though, the Devils showed some resiliency, getting baskets from McCormick and Ryan Shupert, then an Elijah Young three pointer late and again the two teams ended a quarter deadlocked, this time at 35.
The final eight minutes was more of a defensive struggle, with a three-pointer by the Tigers’ Dakotah Duncan giving his team a one-point lead at the six-minute mark. The Devils answered with a 6-0 run to take a 43-38 advantage, but a series of three Greenfield free throws cut the home team’s lead to 43-41 with 52.6 seconds to play.
After the Devils missed a free throw, the Tigers called a timeout to set up a potential game-tying or winning shot, but misfired twice, and Shupert was fouled with 2.7 seconds to go. The senior guard sank both free throws to seal the deal on a 45-41 North Adams triumph.
With McCormick’s 19 leading the way, the Devils also got double figures from Elijah Young with 10, with Colt Shumaker playing his usual, all over the floor, hustling game, and adding 6 points.
“They were fronting Austin in the post without a lot of backside help and we have to get him the ball in those situations,” said Coach Copas. “Our flow and rhythm on offense just wasn’t there tonight, but we will work on it.”
Greenfield was paced by 13 points from Penwell and 12 from Carter, with Landree Gray adding 8.
The now 5-7 Green Devils will be back in conference play on Friday, Jan. 26 when they travel to Lynchburg and the next night will again be on the road for a non-conference battle at Lucasville Valley.
13 13 9 6 –41
13 13 9 10 –45
Greenfield (41): Penwell 3 5-6 13, Duncan 1 0-0 3, Cockerill 1 1-2 3, Carter 4 4-6 12, Gray 3 2-2 8, Osborne 0 1-2 1, Banks 0 1-2 1, Team 12 14-20 41.
N. Adams (45): Call 1 0-0 2, Rothwell 1 1-1 3, Shupert 1 2-3 4, E. Young 4 0-0 10, Shumaker 2 2-4 6, Gill 0 1-2 1, McCormick 8 3-5 19, Team 17 9-15 45.
Greenfield (3): Penwell 2, Duncan 1
N. Adams (2): E. Young 2