Bobcats’ Late Scoring Spurt is Too Much for Greeley

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When Horace Greeley guard Cameron Ciero sank a pair of free throws a couple of minutes into the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game against visiting Byram Hills, the Quakers’ comeback quest seemed almost complete. With the teams suddenly tied, the overflowing and rambunctious crowd eagerly anticipated all the drama that was about to unfold.

Byram Hills guard Jeff Lynch tries to drive around Greeley's Harrison Brown in Friday's game. Photo by Andy Jacobs
Byram Hills guard Jeff Lynch tries to drive around Greeley’s Harrison Brown in Friday’s game. Photo by Andy Jacobs

Too bad the Bobcats didn’t cooperate.

Almost in the blink of an eye, Byram Hills scored the game’s next 16 points to remove every bit of intrigue that had been building up since the Quakers started chipping away at their third-quarter, 13-point deficit. The Bobcats outscored Greeley 22-2 over the final six minutes to  win 68-48 over their upset-minded host.

“I knew we were in for a fight,” said Bobcats coach Ted Repa after his talented team had escaped with a victory. “I think Horace Greeley’s an excellent basketball team. Just, thank God, we went on that run at the end.”

“The score doesn’t really tell what the real game was,” said Greeley coach Dave Fernandes. “And then at the end, we just lost steam and they got a couple of easy baskets. But I was really proud of my kids. No quit in them. They played hard right to the end.”

Brian Skelly scored 19 points for Byram Hills, while Jeff Lynch and Ryan Golden added 15 apiece. Sophomore center Andrew Groll finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds for the Bobcats, who extended their three-point lead after one quarter to 10 by halftime. Lynch scored four of his points in the final minute, then opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer that gave the Bobcats their largest lead of the evening at 38-25.

But the Quakers answered by going on an 8-0 run, getting successive baskets from Matt Xie, Ryan Lubarsky, Teddy Graves and Harrison Brown. Nearly midway through the quarter, Greeley had climbed back to within five points. Brown, who led the Quakers with 13 points, collected seven of them the rest of the period, which ended with Byram Hills leading 46-42.

The fourth quarter began with Brown flipping in a shot in the lane and then, with 6:01 left on the clock, Ciero made his two free throws to finally get the Quakers even. Just 17 seconds later, Golden connected on a pair of free throws to launch Byram on its astounding run. Skelly soon followed with three quick buckets to give the Bobcats a 54-48 lead.

A wide-open Golden then drained a 3-pointer from the right corner on a fastbreak and suddenly the Byram Hills advantage was back to double digits. The 16-0 blitz concluded with two free throws from Groll with 2:39 remaining. The Quakers, scoreless for nearly four minutes, finally answered when Brown made a 20-foot jumper with 2:14 to go.

The Bobcats closed the game with six more points in succession, the last two coming on a layup from reserve center Jason Bernard, who had just stepped onto the court when Repa emptied his bench with 80 seconds left.

“It takes a lot out of the opponent to come back,” said Repa. “But luckily, we were able to hold on. Once you get those easy baskets, then you get a little momentum and you back that up with stops. All of a sudden, now you’re up.”

Byram Hills, which carried its Friday-night momentum to Sunday with a 54-38 win over Briarcliff at Manhattan College as Golden scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, still has just one loss this season. But Repa expects the best is yet to come.

“Obviously we’re happy with our record,” he said. “I think we can play better, no question about it. It’s challenging managing our health. We’ve had some sicknesses, obviously injuries. It’s a constant manage between how hard we can go in practice versus resting. It’s a tough balance. But our record, we’re happy with it right now.  But we’ve still got a long season to go.”

The Quakers’ Fernandes also knows his team can play better as the regular season winds down over the next couple of weeks.

“We’re still not where we wanna be, but we’re getting there,” he said. “I saw a lot of positives in today’s game, a lot of positives for us.”

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