By Rob Potter
ROSCOE The home team rallied from a large deficit, but the visitors still left town with a hard-earned victory.
The Eldred Yellowjackets led by as many as 21 points in Tuesday night’s Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division VI basketball game versus the host Roscoe Blue Devils.
Roscoe outscored the Yellowjackets 15-8 in the fourth quarter to reduce the Eldred advantage to just two points in the final seconds of the contest.
But Eldred’s defense prevented the Blue Devils from even attempting a potential game-winning 3-point shot. As a result of that defensive pressure, Eldred (2-8, 2-3 Division VI) held on for a 43-41 victory.
With 16 seconds remaining, Roscoe’s Jason Harris hit nothing but net with a 3-point shot from well beyond the 19-foot, 9-inch arc. The shot pulled the Blue Devils to within two points at 43-41.
Roscoe (3-9, 0-5 Division VI) then stole the ball near halfcourt with eight seconds remaining.
Following a timeout, the Blue Devils inbounded and John Clancy ended up with the basketball. But two Yellowjacket defenders covered Clancy, trapping him between the 3-point line and the end line. The pair of Yellowjackets also extended their arms to hinder Clancy’s view of the basket.
After a couple of seconds, Clancy tried to move past the defenders and find some open space. But one of the defenders was able to knock the ball away.
Several players dove to the floor to grab the ball, but none of them could gain possession as the last couple of seconds elapsed and the buzzer sounded.
Eldred opened the game with a 10-3 scoring run. Led by Chris Leader and John Scully, who each netted seven points in the first two quarters, the Yellowjackets took a 26-12 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, Eldred extended its advantage. With 6:47 left in the period, Kojo Williams made a 3-pointer to give the Yellowjackets their largest lead of the evening at 33-12.
Leader and Scully both ended the night with a game-high 14 points.
Williams registered five points for Eldred.
Harris led the Blue Devils’ offense by scoring 13 points. Clancy recorded 12 points, while Justin Klinger and Cody DeRosia each added eight points for Roscoe.
“[Roscoe Coach] Fred Ahart did a great job of motivating his players,” Eldred Coach Charlie Donnelly said. “They were fired up and they came out and played a great second half. We feel very fortunate to leave here with a win.”
Donnelly also praised the performance of his own players.
“They are great kids,” he said. “In the first half, we played extremely well. Our defense was good tonight.”
Ahart noted that the Yellowjackets’ defensive intensity, especially in those final seconds, was a key to the game’s outcome.
“We tried to either have Cody [DeRosia] roll around a screen to get open or to inbound the ball to John [Clancy],” Ahart said. “We got the ball to John, and the Eldred players came over and did a great job of trapping him in that corner.”
Despite the fact that the Blue Devils’ rally came up a bit short, Ahart was very pleased with how his team played.
“I’m very proud of our players,” he said. “They kept hustling and playing hard and never gave up the whole game.”