HEUVELTON - Standing at the foul line with 2.5 seconds remaining in overtime and the score tied 44-44 with Harrisville, Heuvelton senior Connor Phillips could only take a deep breath after his first of two shots bounced harmlessly off the front of the rim.
Following the ball as it returned to Phillips his senior teammates Nate Mashaw and Chris Ashlaw lent immediate support.
“They told me that they trusted me. It really calmed me down” said Phillips in a wild celebration on the floor of the Bulldogs’ gym after he calmy stroked the second free throw to secure a desperately contested 45-44 win and a 12-0 NAC West Championship.
“This was a great win because we were able to grind it out on a night when we couldn’t get our offense going,” said Heuvelton Coach Josh McAllister after his Bulldogs dropped Harrisville to 10-2 in a much anticipated meeting of the number two and number three ranked teams in the state’s Class D poll and two programs with realistic state title aspirations.
Heuvelton reached the state finals last year and Harrisville won the state title in 2019 in a third straight trip to the Final Four. Both teams look to further prepare for the postseason on Saturday as Heuvelton hosts NAC Central Champion Malone and Harrisville travels to a neutral site to play Section 7’s Moriah which is ranked third in the Class C rankings.
“Harrisville is just a great team which played tough defense and hit tough shots. Late in the game Connor Phillips went up for a shot inside and Nolan Sullivan came out of nowhere to block it.” Coach McAllister added.
Bulldog senior Nate Mashaw made the toughest and most clutch field goal for the Bulldogs who trailed 30-23 with 2:02 remaining in the third period. After Pirate sophmore Joe Sheppard sank two free throws for a 37-35 lead with 20.7 seconds remaining in regulation, Mashaw used a spin dribble to gain access to the lane and sank a pull-up jumper in the face of a stern defensive challenge with three seconds remaining.
The overtime climaxed after Tanner Sullivan tied the score at 41-41 for Harrisvile with 43 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs took their largest lead of the second half when Lucas Thornhill buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key off a kick out pass from Mashaw wth 22 seconds to play.
Three free throws by Nolan Sulliva in an eight second span tied the score and Phillips was fouled underneath with 2.5 seconds to play.
Thornhill (4 rebounds) accounted for two of Heuvelton’s four 3s and led the Bulldogs with 14 points and Jake Venette (4 rebounds) tallied 11 points followed by Nate Mashaw (6 assists, 11 rebounds) with 8, Chris Ashlaw (3 steals) with 7 and Phillips (10 rebounds, 2 blocks) with 5.
The Pirates junior twin combination of Tanner and Nolan Sullivan both scored 15 points with Sheppard finishing at 7 and Aiden Chartrand and Liam Winters followed with 4 and 3 points.
“We are still a young team and tonight we made too many turnovers just like we did in the game at our place. But for our guys to come here in such a great atmosphere and hold a great team like Heuvelton to 45 points was an outstanding effort,” said Harrisville Coach Brian Coloney.
“And we could very well meet again in 10 days (Section 10 Class D semi-finals).”
The Heuvelton JV’s also secured an undefeated NAC West Championship posting a 67-38 win in the preliminary game. Parker Felt buried six 3-pointers in a 22-point effort for Coach Scott Sargent’s team and Colt McAllister and Devin Johnson followed with nine and eight points.
In other NAC West varsity finales on Friday Lisbon downed Morristown 78-35 and Edwards-Knox bested Hermon-DeKalb 67-48.
Lisbon 78 - Morristown 35: Cooper Rutherford tallied 13 of his game-high 31 points in the first quarter and the Golden Knigths scored 66 points through three quarters crusing to a strong 8-4 third place showing in the NAC West. Conner Flack and A.J. Donaldson combined for 15 and 10 points in the win followed by: Lucas Gravlin (6), Caleb Hayden (2), Isaiah White (2), Coby Mills (4), Conner Bell (4), Simon Murray (2) and Hayden Vessel (2).
Walker Belisle continued to lead the Morristown (3-9 NAC) offense scoring 13 points followed Peyton Donnelly with seven and Kam Toland with six. Other scoring came from: Dominic Perretta (3), Macaulay Ritchie (4) and Jacob Spies (2).
E-K 67 - H-D 48: The Cougars took a 26-21 lead in a fast-paced first quarter and pulled away with a 31-18 second half advantage to win their last two division games and finish at 5-7. Kale Greer and Cooper Allen led a balanced winning offense with 14 and 13 points. Ethan Stalker netted 12 and Dawson Matthews and Jacob Morrill followed with nine and eight. Other scoring came from: Kyle Reif (2), Kaden Kelley (5), Brodie Butler (4) and Kyle Reif (2).
H-D (2-10) showed similar balance with 12 first half points from Hunter Bouchey, 11 points from Noah Locy, 10 from Emerson McQuade and eight from Jeremy Carr. Other scoring was: Christian Guarino (1), Owen Green (2) and Noah Friot (2).
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