Elk Lake claims first-half title
BY JOBY FAWCETT
Elk Lake made up for an agonizing shooting performance with hustle and desire.
Inspired by a passionate motivational speech late in the game from coach John Warnero, it came away with a title.
Despite shooting only 27 percent from the floor, the Warriors rallied in the fourth quarter and sprinted to the finish in overtime for a 47-43 win over Montrose on Thursday in a playoff for the first-half title in the Lackawanna Division IV at Blue Ridge High School.
“We weren’t leading at all until the overtime,” said Elk Lake senior Rob Heft, who scored nine of his 15 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. “This really means a lot to us. We really needed to come back and get this win.”
Elk Lake (12-3) played with a high level of emotion, but could never get itself ahead of the equally driven Meteors, who entered the game having won five straight games.
Montrose guard Erik Burgh drilled a 3-pointer with 3:40 remaining in the first to give his team a 7-6 advantage. The Meteors (8-7) didn’t trail for the next 29 minutes, 55 seconds as Elk Lake made only 17 of 66 shots in regulation.
A reverse layup by Heft with 1:38 remaining in the fourth quarter tied the game at 41.
In the extra time, Heft made a layup and a pair of free throws that provided a cushion for the Warriors.
“You can’t ever give up,” Heft said. “Coach put the pressure on me to lift the team late and that’s what I tried to do.”
Troy Ely converted an offensive rebound to pull Montrose to within 45-43. But Elk Lake’s Nick Dudock, who came off the bench to provide eight rebounds, hit two free throws with five seconds remaining to seal the win.
“I didn’t think about anything and just blocked everything out,” said Dudock, who also had seven points. “My knees were shaking at first, but then I just took a deep breath and it was just like practice.”
Montrose, which defeated Elk Lake, 42-40, in the first meeting with its rival, got an early spark from Burgh, who had three 3-pointers in the first half.
And while Elk Lake kept firing up shots, the Meteors were more prolific, making 15 of 33, which included five 3-pointers – two coming from Lance Nealy in the third quarter.
Brenton Warner made back to back layups, and Ely made a layup off a long assist from Cameron Dean at the buzzer of the third as Montrose held a 36-28 lead and carried all of the momentum into the final quarter.
But Elk Lake, which stayed in the game by grabbing 16 offensive rebounds and forcing 24 turnovers, responded as Tanner Reyen returned after suffering a gash just above his right eye and Heft finally found his touch in the fourth. The Warriors finished the quarter on a 6-2 run that rescued the team and gave it life into overtime.
“What was holding us back was not executing our offense and getting to the rim,” said Reyen, who had five of his game-high 17 points in the fourth. “That’s the best way to get yourself out of a shooting slump.
“Once I started getting to the rim a few times, the momentum came to us and we got a win.”
Montrose (8-7) - E. Burgh 4-8 0-0 11, L. Nealy 3-8 1-2 9, C. Dean 2-6 4-6 8, B. Warner 3-8 0-3 6, T. Ely 2-3 2-2 6, J. Zuber 1-2 1-3 3, W. Ely 0-1 0-0 0, J. Fruehan 0-0 0-0 0, A. Smith 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 15-33 8-16 43.
Elk Lake (12-3) - T. Reyan 7-19 0-4 17, R. Heft 6-21 2-2 15, N. Dudock 2-10 3-4 7, P. McGee 3-11 0-0 6, T. Arnold 1-7 0-0 2, M. Woolcock 0-2 0-0 0, W. Warner 0-0 0-0 0, H. Watkins 0-0 0-0 0, S. Tewksbury 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-70 5-10 47.
Mon. 12 10 14 5 2 – 43
EL 10 10 8 13 6 – 47
3-point shooting: MON 5-15 (Burgh 3-8, Nealy 2-5, T.Ely 0-1, W.Ely 0-1), EL 4-22 (Reyan 3-7, Heft 1-6, Dudock 0-4, Arnold 0-3, Woolcock 0-2). Rebounds: MON 35 (Dean 14), EL 41 (Heft, Dudock 8). Assists: MON 8 (Dean 3), EL 6 (Heft 3). Steals: MON 3 (Zuber, Nealey, T.Ely), EL 9 (Reyan 3). Blocks: MON 1 (Warner), EL 1 (Woolcock). Turnovers: MON 24, EL 8. Fouled out: Warner, Woolcock.