MANHATTAN - Week One of the Grand Army Basketball League got off to a scintillating start last Thursday, thanks to three tight games and the year's first overtime contest.
Dunk-A Schoen 36, Team 2 35, OT
Zach Heinzerling and Whitney Warren led Dunk-A Schoen back from a 20-10 halftime deficit, scoring a combined 14 points in the second half and overtime to secure a thrilling one-point victory in the season opener. Warren, largely shut down in the first half, found his rhythm early in the second stanza, and Dunk-A Schoen overcame a staunch defensive effort with an offensive breakthrough. Heinzerling's overtime free throw was the difference in the game, and a last-second heave by Team 2's Andrew Weiner, in the face on intense pressure, could not draw iron.
It's a tough loss to stomach for Team 2, who played without their captain Kyle Ervin. An early barrage of precision shooting by Weiner vaulted them to the early lead, and their collapsing zone defense seemed impenetrable. Weiner led all scorers with 14 points, but only 3 came in the second half. Zach Smith played a strong interior game, notching 9 points, while guard Chris Bonastia had success driving the lane, scoring 10. A halftime Dunk-A Schoen adjustment from zone to man-to-man effectively nullified their attack, however, and the second half turned into an offensive slog.
Tom Fleischman and Ben Weitmarschen also turned in strong efforts for Dunk-A Schoen, combining for 10 points, all in the second half, and double digit rebounds.
The Cray's Nest 61, Hospital Bombers 49
In the night's highest scoring game, Lars Rasmussen led the Cray's Nest with 18 points, including 8-8 from the foul line. He spearheaded a commitment to offense that kept The Cray's Nest in front throughout. Shane Ryan (17 points) and Gene Walsh (9) got the victors off to a fast start, combining for 19 points in the first half. When defensive adjustments by the Hospital Bombers slowed them down in the second half, Rasmussen and Vance Tucker (9 points) picked up the slack.
Despite the final margin, the Bombers kept the game close throughout, thanks in large part to timely shooting by Geoff Nelson (12 points), Nate Purinton (11 points), and Avi Kent (10 points), all of whom hit 2 three-pointers. Bob Van Kolken played a strong game underneath, notching 12 points and many offensive rebounds.
As in game one, a late defensive adjustment made the difference. Calling a timeout with 9 minutes left and the Bombers within three, The Cray's Nest switched first to a box-and-one defense, then briefly to triangle-and-two, and finally to straight up man-to-man. The effort to stymie the hot shooting of Nelson, Purinton, and Kent paid dividends, and The Cray's Nest were able to pull away.
Team 5 33, Beast of Burden 32
A brilliantly designed out-of-bounds play with 10 seconds remaining lifted Team 5 to a stunning victory over Beast of Burden. Colby Hall (10 points), serving as player-coach, drew up the winning formula, which utilized leading scorer Keith Gormley (17 points) as a high post decoy. Steve Reiter received the inbounds, whipped a pass to a flashing Gormley, who absorbed the collapsing defense and fed Hall for the lay-up. Beast of Burden had a final chance to re-take the lead, but a last-second three hit the support beams above the basket.
Gormley's post play led Team 5 back from a 19-14 halftime deficit. Beast of Burden ran out to the early lead with strong perimeter defense and hot shooting by Ismael Rodriguez (14 points). Rafael Rodriguez added 10 points, including a crucial late 3-pointer, but it wasn't enough to derail the Team 5 comeback.
It was a bruising, defensive battle, and in the end size barely overcame quickness. Greg Wyrick, Team 5 captain, added 5 points to the winning effort. Kyle Pilkington and Pat Waldo, doing the heavy inside lifting for Beast of Burden, combined for 6.