NUNDA — Bobby Avery buried a clutch 3-pointer at the buzzer in order to send Canisteo-Greenwood and Dansville into overtime in the Tink McVean Holiday Tournament, but the Mustangs defense was too strong in the overtime session for the Redskins and Dansville captured the Championship trophy with a 52-44 final Thursday afternoon in Nunda.
"Our plan was to come into this and win the championship and I’m glad we completed that goal. Yesterday, we played extremely well, it was one of the best games we had played all year," said Dansville coach Dave Moodie. "I thought we were a little doggish though today, but luckily some guys were able to carry the energy through to today. I mean we played hard yesterday, and some of the guys felt the effects of that. People might say this was an ugly win, but as the year goes on, you aren’t going to remember what the score was, you’re just going to remember that you won."
The Mustangs were led by Hunter Little, who was named tournament MVP thanks to a 15 point, 11 rebound performance in the championship game. He added four steals to a stellar night that saw him play a very smart game, especially in the fourth quarter and overtime.
"He played extremely hard. He’s a kid who always gives his best effort. While he’s not necessarily the most fluid basketball player, he plays so hard that good things happen for him," said Moodie. "He got in some foul trouble, but he was able to work through it and in the end he really carried us through."
While the game was very close in the end, Dansville came out in the opening minutes and imposed its will on the defensive end of the court. Implementing a 1-2-2 trapping press, the Mustangs made life very difficult for the Redskins, who were forced into a few turnovers early in the game.
The Mustangs took the early 12-6 lead, but Canisteo-Greenwood finally started to get things going in the last minute of the opening frame and went into the second quarter trailing just 12-8 and had grabbed some momentum.
That momentum turned into a 5-0 run to start the second, and when Brennan Baker buried a 3-pointer from the left corner, the Redskins had their first lead of the game at 13-12. Over the second part of the second quarter, Bobby Avery began to assert his dominance on the floor. Avery scored a couple of buckets in the paint, but also did a great job playing the point guard position by finding open teammates under the basket for wide open layups. With Avery controlling the offense, the Redskins maintained the lead into the halftime break, where they led 19-17.
The second half started almost exactly as the first half did, as Dansville’s full-court press once again began to impact the Redskins. Dansville immediately tied the game up in the opening minute, then eventually pushed to a 24-23 lead with just over five minutes left in the half thanks to a big 3-pointer from Arrik Gerber.
Then, with the help of another 3-pointer from Jacob Failla, the Mustangs ended the third on a 5-0 run that helped them take the commanding 29-23 lead into the final eight minutes of regulation.
Unfortunately for the Mustang faithful, it was very early in the fourth quarter that both Gerber and Little went to the bench with four fouls apiece, setting up a likely run from the Redksins. But instead, the Mustangs not only held onto the lead in the opening minutes, they actually increased it, going up 33-23 with just over six minutes left to play.
"We always talk about next man up, and we truly believe that. Some people say second string or third string or whatever, but we don’t look at it like that. Every person on this team is a player, and when you go in the game you are expected to perform, and we all hold each other accountable to that," said Moodie. "Everybody has a job to do, and when your number is called, you need to do that job."
But that’s when Bobby Avery took over the game.
Avery ripped off a quick three points and then found Brennan Baker in the lane for a floater that cut the lead to just 33-28. After Dansville then took the 36-30 lead with just under two minutes left, Avery went on a 4-0 run all by himself to make it a one possession game.
Little knocked down a free throw at the other end, but Avery responded right away with a drive to the rim that put the score at 37-36 with just 35 seconds left.
Dansville’s Little then played hero as best as he could, making a strong move to the basket with just five seconds left and nailing the shot in order to give the Mustangs the 39-36 lead and what seemed like a sure win.
But Avery was not done.
The senior guard dribbled the ball down across half court quickly, found his spot from the right wing and pulled up from a few feet behind the arc and hit nothing but the bottom of the night as the buzzer sounded to send both teams into an extra session of basketball. Avery finished with a game-high 24 points, including scoring the last nine in regulation for the Redskins.
But unfortunately for Canisteo-Greenwood fans, the Mustangs went right back to work in their press in the overtime period and jumped out to a lead that simply could not be overcome in the last four minutes of play.
Thanks to the strong defense that forced a few early turnovers, Dansville jumped out to the 47-40 lead just two minutes into the extra period.
Canisteo-Greenwood made one last comeback effort, but with 30 seconds left and a loose ball on the ground, Nick Rosica dove on it, found a wide-open Dylan Race for the layup and ended all hopes of a comeback.
Dansville (4-3) now heads to Avon after the New Year on Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. Canisteo-Greenwood returns home next Friday when Rochester Prep comes to town at 6:45 p.m.