THRILLER IN THE PIT-CLINTON TOPS VVS 61-58-BOY’S HOLIDAY HOOPS
Clinton’s Michael Hayduk (20) reacts as time winds down and his Warriors get a big come from behind win.
Jeff Pexton-MHTS-PGI Photo
The Clinton Warriors boy’s basketball team overcame consistent double-digit leads by Vernon Verona Sherrill tonight and came back in the final seconds to win its semi-final matchup in the opening round of the VVS Christmas Classic Tournament, 61-58.
Trailing 58-57 with 5.8 seconds remaining in the game and Clinton in the double bonus, Andrew Hobika was fouled and went to the line,with a lot on the line.
While the junior forward missed both free throws, an alert teammate, Garrett Drejza, crashed the boards on the second shot and put back the rebound to give the Warriors an unbelievable 59-58 lead, which they would not relinquish.
For the many fans that exited “The Pit” on the campus of VVS High School after the third quarter, when VVS held a 41-33 lead, the final score of this one will come as quite a surprise.
VVS seemed to be in control throughout, right up until the fourth quarter, when Clinton outscored the host club by a score of 28-17 to advance to tomorrow night’s final against Holland Patent.
The Golden Knights earned a spot against Clinton in the title tilt by downing Little Falls,62-43, to earn a shot at the tourney championship.
For the first three quarters, VVS’ two big post players, Dalton Cousin and Casey Jones controlled the boards at both ends, often out-muscling the undersized Warriors for everything loose around and above the rim.
If not for Michael Hayduk’s five points from the free throw line in the first half, Clinton would not have managed double digits offensively in the first sixteen minutes of play.
Back to the big guys, Dalton Cousin accounted for 10 of VVS’ 27 first half points to pace the home team to a commanding 27-13 lead at the break.
Whatever first year Clinton head coach Jim Sojda said to his Warriors during the intermission certainly sunk in, as the kids clad in maroon came out with a new level of intensity to open the third period.
Hayduk led the Warriors assault with 15 of his game high 30 points in the third quarter, 9 of which the fiery senior hit from outside the three-point line.
Clinton pulled to within eight points of VVS (41-33) after three quarters, outscoring the Red Devils 20-14 in the third stanza.
The sudden barrage of three pointers from Hayduk and a very harsh full court press by Clinton definitely had an impact on head coach Bob Esposito’s Devils in the last sixteen minutes of the ball game.
The Red Devils were forced into rushed passes which turned into eight turnovers in the final eight minutes of the game.
Then with less than two minutes remaining, VVS guard Alex Saville, the team’s strongest outside shooter, fouled out of the game, hindering the Devils ability to knock down the three ball late in the game.
Michael Hayduk and Patrick Ziemba combined for 19 of Clinton’s 28 fourth quarter points to make the unlikely comeback possible.
Garrett Drejza’s key rebound and put back with time winding down finished the job and the Clinton Warriors won this one by a score of 61-58.
With the win, Clinton improves to (5-2) on the season and will advance to take on Holland Patent on Saturday night in the championship game.
VVS meanwhile, drops to (1-6) on the season and will look to rebound in the consolation game when they take on Little Falls.
Dalton Cousin finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Red Devils this evening.
Clinton 61 VVS 58
1 2 3 4 Total
VVS 12 15 14 17 58
Clinton 8 5 20 28 61