NEWPORT, N.Y. — The Little Falls Mounties staked their claim to the top of the Center State Conference’s Division II heap with a 79-68 win over West Canada Valley Wednesday in a first-place showdown in front of an overflow crowd.
Each team had suffered its first loss of the season in holiday tournament play — West Canada Valley in New York Mills, Little Falls in Canajoharie — and neither had lost in league play before the calendar turned form 2013 to 2014. Wednesday’s game was the first head-to-head meeting between the squads which have spent the early part of the season high in the New York State Sportswriters Association’s Class C rankings.
Little Falls (8-1, 5-0 CSC-II) got the lead in the first quarter and never gave it up. The margin was as wide as 14 points in the first quarter but West Canada Valley got as close as three only twice after the opening period and never in the second half.
“We weren’t able to put together consecutive stops,” said second-year West Canada Valley coach D.J. Shepardson, a graduate of Little Falls. “They deserve credit for everything. They beat us with their intensity, with their hustle, and they penetrated our defense.”
Getting ahead was important for the visitors. Staying there was, at times, a challenge.
“We did a good job getting up initially and holding (the lead),” said Little Falls coach Brian Dodge, another former Mountie. “If (West Canada Valley) gets the lead and starts pushing the other way it’s tough to beat them.”
A three-point play by Jordan Yaworski had the Indians (7-2, 3-1 CSC-II) within three points in the opening minute of the second quarter but a 7-0 run by the Mounties pushed their lead into double figures for the first time. A three-point shot by Yaworski made the score 34-31 with 1:38 left in the first half but Little Falls scored the final four points of the first half and took a seven-point lead into its locker room.
A run in the third quarter pushed the margin back past 10 points. Leading 48-42 in a tightly-officiated game, the Mounties took advantage of foul-shooting opportunities. Rahmere Greene hit a pair of free throws on one possession and Theo Wind converted on a one-and-one 17 seconds later. A three-point shot by Mitchell Baumeister gave Little Falls a 13-point lead for the first time.
West Canada Valley was back within six points when Ryan Grogan scored at the start of the fourth quarter and the lead fluctuated between six and 10 points until Little Falls made a late 7-0 run. Greene scored with an assist from freshman Todd Hubbell to make the score 67-59. Hubbell and Brian Ewanyk followed with baskets before Baumeister made the first of two foul shots with 1:44 left.
“We had opportunities,” Shepardson said. “We just didn’t finish at the basket.”
Page 2 of 2 - Wind and Greene combined to hit five free throws in the final minute and seal the win.
Ewanyk led Little Falls with 18 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots. Greene scored 16 points, Baumeister scored 14 and Hubbell had 11. Wind added eight points and six assists while Sean Ward scored eight points off the bench and Sam Yallowitz grabbed seven rebounds.
Yaworski scored 25 points for West Canada valley and Bobby Davenport added 16. Alex Williams hit two three-pointers in the final minute of the game and finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. Mike Sternberg also had eight rebounds while Grogan had six assists.
“We knew this would be a tough game,” Dodge said. “We had this date marked down and we now they’ll come at us hard again at the end of the year.”
Next up for West Canada Valley is a game Friday against Central Valley Academy. Little Falls plays Saturday at Poland.
LITTLE FALLS 79, WEST CANADA VALLEY 68
LITTLE FALLS (8-1, 5-0 CSC-II) — Sam Yallowitz 1 2-2 4; Mitchell Baumeister 2 9-14 14; Theo Wind 1 6-6 8; Rahmere Greene 6 4-6 16; Brian Ewanyk 7 4-5 18; Todd Hubbell 4 2-2 11; Will Robinson 0 0-0 0; Sean Ward 3 0-0 8; James Amuso 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24 27-35 79.
WEST CANADA VALLEY (7-2, 3-1 CSC-II) — Bobby Davenport 7 0-1 16; Jordan Yaworski 7 9-11 25; Brandon Roberts 0 0-0 0; Ryan Grogan 1 3-6 5; Mike Sternberg 2 0-1 4; Josh Sudakow 1 0-2 2; Cole Smith 0 0-0 0; Alex Williams 4 2-2 12; Dalton Gorinshek 0 0-0 0; Ryan Moody 2 0-1 4. Totals: 24 14-24 68.
Little Falls 16 22 19 22 — 79
West Canada Valley 10 21 18 19 — 68
Three-pointers — Little Falls 4 (Ward 2, Baumeister 1, Hubbell 1); West Canada Valley 6 (Davenport 2, Williams 2, Yaworski 2). JV — West Canada Valley won.