Sayre's rally comes up short against Lourdes
MONTOURSVILLE - Down 13 midway through the third quarter, Sayre upped the pressure on Lourdes Regional and closed the gap to two in the final minutes before finally falling, 49-41, in the opening round of the District 4, Class A boys basketball playoffs.
Sayre took its last lead of the game, at 5-4, on a baseline drive by Adam Wampole 2 1/2 minutes into the game. From there, the Red Raiders reeled off 14 unanswered points in a 16-1 run to give the them their biggest lead of the game, at 20-6, with 5:41 remaining in the first half.
The Redskins cut the gap to 25-14 at the half.
Sayre coach Ben Gambrell said the game played out much the way most "big games" did this season for the Redskins.
"We didn't show up in the first half," he said. "It seems like that's been our story the entire season.
"In big games like this, with a lot of noise and a lot of crowd, we don't show up in the first half, but we come out in the second half and play well," said Gambrell. "By then, the other team has already established their lead and it's too late."
Lourdes pushed its lead to 13, at 27-14, early in the third quarter on a putback by Zack Oquendo, but Marshall Higley knocked down three free throws to cut the lead to 10.
After a 3-pointer by Anthony Pennypacker, Higley answered with a 3-pointer to trim the lead back to 10, at 30-20, with 4:27 remaining in the third quarter.
Nate Williams' weak-side putback moments later cut the Lourdes lead to single-digits, at 30-22, for the first time since late in the first quarter.
Lourdes maintained the advantage and led by 11, at 39-28, following a conventional three-point play by Oquendo with 6:25 left in the game.
After a Sayre time out, the Redskins began pressuring the ball full court and it paid off with an 8-1 run to cut the deficit to 40-36 with 4:06 left in the game.
The run began with a Seth Murrelle lay-up and included a short jumper by Nick Skerpon ? off a nice interior feed from Walter Wampole, a coast-to-coast drive by Williams after a defensive rebound and a weak-side putback by Higley, who rebounded the ball and banked it in off the glass while still in the air.
"We turned up the pressure and it paid off," said Gambrell. "We could see (Lourdes) was getting a little over-ripe, so we went after them. We just ran out of gas in the last minute or so.
"Our guys had to realize they had to become the hunters. I kept preaching positive things to them. It finally took hold and we made a nice run."
Michael Menapace knocked down a short jumper for Lourdes to make it 42-36 and the Red Raiders had a chance to extend their lead, but missed the front end of consecutive one-and-ones.
For the game, the Red Raiders converted just 8 of 20 attempts from the charity stripe.
"We told our guys who to foul if they had to foul because they weren't making their free throws," said Gambrell. "I think a bit of fatigue affected them as well."
The Redskins took advantage as Williams was fouled driving to the bucket and canned both free throws, then banked in a runner to cut the deficit to 42-40 with 3:05 left in the game.
Following a Lourdes time out, the Red Raiders switched to Matt Savitski bringing the ball up court against the Sayre pressure. He was fouled and canned a pair of free throws to make it 44-40 with 2:55 remaining.
The teams exchanged defensive stops and Lourdes still led 44-40 with 58 seconds remaining. It missed an opportunity to seal the decision by making just one of four free throws over the next 15 seconds and led 45-40 with 43 seconds left in the game.
The Redskins missed on a pair of 3-point opportunities on its next two possessions and a breakaway lay-up by Oquendo against the Sayre pressure with 23 seconds remaining finally sealed the victory for the Red Raiders.
Williams led Sayre with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Higley scored 10 points and Murrelle added four points, three assists and three steals.
Joey Galizia grabbed five rebounds for the Redskins, while Walter Wampole had four boards.
Oquendo led Lourdes with 18 points, while Pennypacker scored 12 points and Savitski added eight.
While disappointed with the loss, Gambrell was pleased with his team's effort in the face of an opponent many thought Sayre could not compete with.
"I love being the under dog. I always root for the under dog.
"I told the guys people didn't have much faith in us and we needed to show them," said Gambrell. "We put on our best shoes, came in here and did the dance, but just fell a couple of points short."
The Redskins wrap up the season at 13-10.