|Mynderse Academy Outlasts Lyons in Class C State Qualifier|
In a game that wasn't very pretty to watch, the Mynderse Blue Devils were able to fight-off a hard-nosed Lyons Lions squad on Wednesday night in the Section V Class C State Qualifier in Rochester, winning by a score of 47-43.
Mynderse will be Section V's representative from Class C in the NYS High School Basketball Tournament. The Blue Devils will face Silver Creek out of Section 6 on Saturday at 2:45 pm at the Blue Cross Arena for a trip to Glens Falls.
The wild postseason for local high school basketball fans rolled on and back into the Blue Cross Arena on Wednesday night as Mynderse would play their third game in 6 days. Coach Mike Fields' squad defeated Avon on Saturday in Rochester to capture the Section V Class C1 title. Then, they found themselves back in Seneca County on Monday night in Waterloo where they defeated the Class C3 champs Clyde-Savannah. That victory earned them a trip back to the city to face Lyons, the Class C2 winners, on Wednesday night. Coach Zac Young's Lions received the bye over Clyde and Mynderse because they had accumulated more sectional points during the regular season.
For both varsity basketball teams 2012-13 had already been a successful year. Both had achieved what most coaches strive for heading into a new season, a sectional crown. But, with an opportunity to advance to the state tournament, and the fact that one of the teams would be playing their last game together, there was plenty on the line on Wednesday evening.
An additional story line to the contest was the realization that some great senior players were taking the court for the last time wearing their school colors. Would it be the end of the road for three-time sectional champion PG Brandon Passalacqua and his backcourt-mate Jimmy Ricci? Would it be the final game for Lyons senior leader Devan Veeder and their athletic big man Tre' Johnson?
The game got underway with a Mynderse turnover leading to a D.J. Long bank shot to put Lyons up 2-0. Then, both teams struggled to hold onto the ball and when they did, to make a shot. The next basket in the game didn't come for nearly 3 minutes when Conner Miller finally evened the score up at 2 apiece with 4:25 left in the opening quarter.
Then, Devan Veeder hit a foul line jumper, scored on a drive through the lane, and hit a big three pointer to give Lyons a 10-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. When Mynderse wasn't turning the ball over, Passalacqua was able to work inside off his own dribble for a pair of scores in the paint.
The second quarter opened with more of the same as Lyons jumped out to a 13-7 lead at the 5:55 mark thanks to free throws from Damon Hunter and Tre' Johnson. Then Passalacqua started to assert himself offensively getting into the land and finding junior PF Luke Ruddy resulting in multiple trips the the charity stripe.
The spark for Mynderse, however, came off the bench in the form of reserve center Jared Coffey who hit a baseline 7 footer and again from 15 feet on the ensuing possession to give Mynderse the lead. Add a Ruddy layup and a Passalacqua pull up and Mynderse was up by 8 with just 4 seconds left in the half.
Someone needed to tell the Blue Devils that the half wasn't over because Lyons quickly got the ball down court to a wide open Devan Veeder who nailed a three to cut the lead to 21-16 as the halftime buzzer sounded.
Lyons sophomore sensation Damon Hunter had energized Lyons with 18 first half points in Saturday's Class C2 championship. Just 5 days later, on the same court, he was held to just 3 first half points. The main reason, great defending by Mynderse senior Jimmy Ricci who was tasked with staying in front of the ultra-quick Lyons point guard. The favor was returned by Hunter as well who held Ricci to a scoreless half on the other end.
Poor first half shooting was the theme in this low scoring affair. Mynderse was just 9 of 27 from the field whule Lyons was even worse at 5 for 25.
The second half began with Damon Hunter hitting from long distance on the Lions' first possession. Then junior Jason Anderson hit a jumper from just inside the top of the key. D.J. Long hit a baby-hook for Lyons and Passalacqua scored on another nifty shot in the lane. It seemed that the first half shooting woes were a thing of the past for both teams as Mynderse enjoyed a 25-21 lead early in the 3rd quarter.
Then the game began to open up for Tre' Johnson who found his way to the foul line on multiple occasions including a score as he was fouled by Jared Coffey that brought Lyons to within one-point after Johnson converted the free throw. As the 3rd quarter buzzer sounded, an open three point attempt by Johnson that would have put Lyons up by two caught back iron and bounced away. Mynderse would take a slim 1-point lead into the final quarter.
Tre' Johnson hit from seven feet to open the fourth quarter and give Lyons the lead back. A pair of Ruddy free throws on the next Mynderse possession tilted the contest back in the Blue Devils' favor.
At this point, Mynderse coach Mike Fields had switched from man-to-man to a 1-3-1 zone.
Jason Anderson would make one of two free throws to put Mynderse up two until D.J. Long struck again for Lyons, this time from the baseline, tying the game at 33 each at the 6 minute mark. Then Damon Hunter took advantage of his freedom from Ricci's stiffling man-to-man defense to bury a big three pointer to put Lyons back up by one.
Luke Ruddy immediately answered that strike with a bucket off a feed from Passalacqua to give Mynderse the lead back. Mynderse then stopped Lyons and Ruddy scored again to open the lead to three with just over four minutes remaining.
Hunter had an answer on the other end scoring on a drive and a Ruddy foul. He would miss the free throw but the ball would go out of bounds off Mynderse. Off the inbound Hunter found himself open for another three but his attempt would miss the mark.
Passalacqua tossed up an airball which led to a Lyons' run-out and Damien Scott found himself at the foul line where he made one of two to tie the game with just 2:47 left on the clock. Passalacqua would stumble on the next possession for Mynderse which led to another Lyons transition opportunity and a Damon Hunter layup to give Lyons a 2-point lead. After another Mynderse turnover, this time by Anderson, Lyons had the ball back with the lead and just 2:09 left.
Mynderse came out of the time-out back in man-to-man defense forcing a miss by Lyons. D.J. Long was able to corral the offensive rebound and Lyons took a 30-second timeout up 2 with 1:39 left.
Out of the timeout, Veeder missed a jumper which led to a Mynderse fast break resulting in Luke Ruddy getting fouled. Ruddy proved to be clutch, converting both attempts and pulling Mynderse back into a tie for the lead.
Mynderse pressed off the made free throw and forced a turnover and, after a Mynderse timeout, Jason Anderson hit on a drive through the lane to put Mynderse up 43-41 with just 46 seconds remaining.
Lyons would miss on their next possession and Mynderse rebounded and had the ball with just a 5-second differential between the shot and game clock. Lyons would have to force Mynderse to secure the win at the free throw line.
Brandon Passalacqua buried a pair of clutch free thows to give Mynderse a four point lead but Lyons didn't waste time getting the ball down court and Tre' Johnson put back a Hunter miss to make the score 45-43 with just 18.4 seconds in the game.
Lyons had Passalacqua trapped in the corner off the inbound pass but a foul was called bailing out Mynderse who looked to be in danger of a turnover. This time, however, Passalacqua would miss the front end of the 1 and 1.
With just under ten second Lyons junior Damien Scott found himself with the basketball in the corner, and no Blue Devils in his general vicinity. He took the open shot but it didn't find the mark resulting in a scrum for the rebound and a called jump ball. The possession arrow favored Mynderse.
On the inbound play for Mynderse, they went deep to a streaking Conner Miller who fumbled the ball as he was fouled. Miller, not one of Mynderse top free throw shooters, would head to the line with 6.6. seconds left and Mynderse holding on to a narrow two point lead.
Miller would miss and Lyons would rebound and get the ball up court quickly to Tre' Johnson who had a great look at a layup which came off the glass and rolled off the rim. Jason Anderson would rebound and was fouled immediately by Devan Veeder. It would be Veeder's 5th foul and he would exit the game for the final time in his Lyons career.
Anderson would knock down both free throws and with just 0.9 seconds left, Mynderse had finally secured the win, 57-43.
Lyons ended their season at 18-3, Wayne County League Co-Champions and Section V Class C2 Champions.
Tre' Johnson finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds in his final high school game while fellow senior Devan Veeder finished with 10 points and 5 rebounds. Sophomore Damon Hunter had 10 points.
For Mynderse, who improved to 18-5, it was the usual suspects leading the way. Brandon Passalacqua finished with a game-high 16 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. Luke Ruddy, who asserted himself in the second half, finished with 15 points and 17 big rebounds.
Mynderse now prepares to meet Silver Creek out of Section 6 for a chance to head to the NYS Class C Final Four in Glens Falls where they would meet the winner of Stony Brook (16-4) vs. Pine Plains (19-2). First, they will return to the Blue Cross Arena for the contest against Silver Creek at 2:45 pm on Saturday.
Brandon Passalacqua, Jimmy Ricci and Conner Miller have earned themselves at least one more opportunity to put on the white and blue of Mynderse. Local high school basketball fans in northern Seneca County and southeastern Wayne County have tremendous memories from a post-season that will be talked about for years to come.
(Photo by Jim Miranda for FingerLakes1.com)
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