WATERTOWN — Day one of the Frontier League finals at Jefferson Community College saw both No. 1 seeds walk away with a championship banner.
A strong second half helped Watertown defeat Carthage, avenging its loss to the Comets in last year’s championship game. In the late game Beaver River staved off a fourth quarter comeback by Joey Melfi and the Vikings.
BEAVER RIVER 71, THOUSAND ISLANDS 64
Beaver River coach Lynn Petzoldt was still sweating even after Beaver River had won its second consecutive Frontier League “C” Division title. On the back of Joey Melfi, Thousand Islands (10-10) cut what was once a 15-point game to as close as five points in the final two minutes of the game.
The junior finished with 38 points, scoring 13 in the fourth quarter.
Despite the dwindling lead, the Beavers stayed calm, much to Petzoldt’s delight.
“We don’t get a chance to practice late game situations, so I think we got a little bit cautious where we could have had some shots but we didn’t take them,” Petzoldt said. “I don’t want turnovers, we don’t want any of that, so yea, we can hold it for a little bit. And for the most part, our foul shooting is pretty good so I trust them at the end.”
The Beavers (14-6) made 16 of their 20 free throws in the game and 10 of 12 in the fourth quarter.
Lincoln Becker, who finished with 23 points and three 3-pointers, was happy with how poised the Beavers were in the second half.
“One thing that we focus on most of the year is not rushing the offense, just letting it come to you, and we worked on that a lot better in the second half,” Becker said. “You have both fan sections cheering, they’re cheering hard, you have to keep composure throughout those last couple of minutes.”
Controlling the offense was Zach Mast, Beaver River’s point guard who is top five in the Section in assists.
Mast finished with 23 points as well and was consistent on offense even when the Beavers struggled to score in the first half.
“We started scoring the ball and that allowed us to set up our press, they started turning the ball over more and we capitalized on that,” Mast said.
Mast has made it a point to move the ball around as much as he can this season.
“I just like getting my teammates involved, the better they shoot the better I shoot and the better everyone plays,” Mast said. “It’s a team effort.”
Mast finished with a team-leading five assists and four steals for the Beavers.
After the game the Frontier League announced its “C” Division All-Stars: Mast, Sam Bush of Beaver River, Becker, Connor MacKay of Thousand Islands, Melfi and Ian Anderson of South Lewis. Anderson and Melfi were also named co-MVP’s of the division with Lynn Petzoldt being named coach of the year.
WATERTOWN 61, CARTHAGE 47
Marlon Hinds-Ventour tried to close out Watertown’s Frontier League “A” Division finals victory over Carthage with an exclamation point. Charging up the baseline, Hinds-Ventour took flight, intent on slamming home the ball along with the win.
The act incited a large cheer, but the ball bounced out before it could fall through the net. Instead, Hinds-Ventour had to settle for a couple of foul shots.
Before the game, Watertown coach Jeff Britton told his team that these are the games where stars need to shine.
Two of those stars, Hinds-Ventour and Ryan Peters, did just that. Hinds-Ventour finished with 26 points while Peters had seven points and 10 rebounds. AJ Carter also contributed 15 while Kevin Harp had nine.
The Cyclones (11-9) were never in any real danger of losing its lead, they entered the third quarter leading by eight but then outscored the Comets 15-5 in the third, at one point their lead over Carthage (8-11) was as high as 18.
“We came into the locker room and we were talking about, we said we had to go out there and maintain energy, start attacking the rim and get them in foul trouble,” Hinds-Ventour said. “And just keep the pace going.”
Along with consistently flowing on offense throughout the course of the game, the Cyclones were able to shut down Carthage’s two main scorers Zion Tevaga and Elijah Whitfield. Tevaga finished with 15 and Whitfield finished with 12.
“Every possession in a game like this is going to matter, you can’t take any time off,” Watertown coach Jeff Britton said. “Our game plan going in was finish every second you can. Whether that’s diving on the floor, getting a rebound, finishing an and-1, stuff like that. So even on the defensive end, we were talking, we were extending, guys were just working together and it was a good team effort.”
Britton noted how the Cyclones were able to slow the game down in their heads, despite speeding up the tempo on the court. In the final quarter, Watertown sped up the pace even more, starting with back-to-back transition buckets.
“We got guys that can finish,” Britton said. “Marlon can get up the floor, Ryan is a great decision maker, Kevin Harp finished great at the rim, AJ Carter just being smart, he had a couple of good baskets at the end just off the press break. Those are the things that spark us.”
The Frontier “A” Division All-Stars named after the game were Sammy Angelo of Indian River, Tevaga, Whitfield, Hinds-Ventour, Michael Allen of Indian River and Peters who was also named MVP. Jeff Britton was awarded coach of the year.