Complete Sabers team upsets Wolves
FORD CITY — For the first time all season, Ford City had a complete basketball team.
And with a full team, the Sabers defeated West Shamokin 44-42 Tuesday evening in a Section 1-AA matchup.
Ford City (11-10, 5-6) has battled injuries to starters all season and will miss the playoffs, but the Sabers are now playing the role of spoiler.
They would have won an Academy Award for their performance against the Wolves.
“This is the team we were hoping to have all year,” Sabers head coach Jim Callipare said. “They know in their hearts they were sound enough to win. It was nice to see a finished product with all the kids we have. I am proud of their effort for not packing it in. It was a nice win for our kids.”
The Sabers have been without Jesse Stivason for some time and they missed Aaron Bell the most. Bell, who had a game high 20 points, broke his foot in a football playoff game against Aliquippa and made his return felt.
“He means a lot to our team,” Callipare said.
Bell scored 12 of his 20 points in the third quarter to get the Sabers even at 29.
“I knew when I came back, we would have someone bring the ball up the court. We would be better than we were,” Bell said.
“He had 12 of his 20 in the third,” Nagy said. “He made some nice cuts behind us and knocked down a three there. Aaron gave them a nice lift. He adds another dimension to their offense.”
The Sabers offense struggled mightily against the Wolves defense in the first half as they hit twice as many foul shots as field goals and trailed 17-12 at the half.
West Shamokin (13-6, 7-4) holds a one game lead over Burrell for the third and final playoff spot.
“If Burrell lost, we still have a one game cushion,” West Shamokin head coach Mike Nagy said. “But we have to play good basketball down the stretch. We have to start playing good basketball.”
But the Wolves didn’t play good basketball down the stretch against the Sabers.
West Shamokin appeared tentative on offense and mentally wasn’t in the game.
“We made so many mental mistakes,” Nagy said. “We shouldn’t have put ourselves in the position we did at the end. It was the whole team.”
Pete Kaplon’s mental mistake with 6.9 seconds left was crucial.
Kaplon fouled Ryan Eckman with the score knotted at 42 with 6.9 seconds remaining in the game.
“He thought we were down one,” Nagy said.
Eckman hit the first of two free throws and Mark Troyan hit a foul shot with 0.4 seconds to seal the win.
“It was a very aggressive game,” Callipare said. “They some calls at the end that could have gone either way. I thought the kids did a nice job down the stretch.”
The Wolves were without the services of Jerry Wilson, who scored 36 points in their last meeting, down the stretch. The senior center, who scored a team-high 16 points, fouled out with 2:44 left.
“I think we missed him more on defense than offense,” Nagy said. “We had our opportunities. Defensively, he could have helped a little.”