Pioneer City lads notch memorable hoops victory
In a 1:34 span to start the fourth period, Carbondale Area's Bailey Rumford broke a pair of deadlocks to ignite the Chargers in a 49-40 victory over Old Forge at the Second Annual Dedication Game.
"Bailey has made some big plays for us all year starting in the Turonis Tournament when he opened the overtime with a three," said head coach Landon Gabriel.
"He has been sneaky defensively with great footwork on close outs and good defensive position to tip perimeter passes that leads to steals and breakaways. His big plays against Old Forge are plays he's been making all year for us."
Last year, the Chargers started a new tradition where they sign a game ball then place the initials of the person they are dedicating that game's effort.
The players also write a heartfelt note to that individual whether it be parent, grandparent, other family member or friend who have made an impact in their life.
The signed ball is placed on the bench with the team and players touch the ball during timeouts to remind them of the connection to the person they are honoring.
"This has been well received by the kids and those honored," said Coach Gabriel. "Our kids take time to reflect on the impact family and friends have on them and those honored are recognized for their impact."
Rumford's impact in the game sparked the late charge. Tied at 35 to start the fourth quarter, Rumford buried a trey at the 7:34 for a 38-35 CA lead.
After Old Forge answered with their own three at the 6:28 mark for a 38-38 score, Rumford produced a steal and half court dash to a lay-up to put the Chargers ahead 40-38 with 6:00 left.
The Chargers, who stepped up the intensity at the defensive end shutting out the Blue Devils over the last 3:31 of the game, never trailed the rest of the way.
"We always tell our kids that shooting can vary from night to night but playing good defense night in and night out decides games," noted Gabriel.
Pat Durkin buried a pair of buckets to start the game for a 4-0 CA lead but OF reeled off 12 straight points including Ben Grochowski's 10 points for a 12-4 lead at the 3:10 mark.
Giovanni Mustica and Mike Zazzera scored back-back baskets to halt a nearly 4:00 drought for a 12-8 score.
Old Forge pushed the spread to 17-9 before Rumford buried a trey to jump-start a 7-0 CA rally in a :51 span with Evan Dearie and James Henderson added baskets to close the gap to 17-16. Old Forge held a 24-22 halftime lead.
Dearie's trey :30 into the third period gave CA its first lead since the 6:28 mark of the first period. Durkin muscled two moves to the basket into scores and a free throw conversion for a 30-26 CA lead.
Grochowski capped a a 5-0 Old Forge spurt to give the Blue Devils a 31-30 lead with 3:02 left in the quarter.
Grochowski, who had 11 first period points and 14 points in the half, was limited to four second half points as Mustica dug in defensively limiting clean looks at the basket.
Mustica had a free throw conversion at the 1:55 mark then a soft jumper with :04 left to force a 35-35 tie at the end of three periods.
After Rumford's trey and steal and score put CA ahead for good at 40-38, Dearie scored for a 42-38 margin. OF closed the gap to 42-40 with 3:31 left.
The Chargers' D held OF scoreless the rest of the way.
Bobby Salitsky followed with a power move for a lay-up off the board then hit one of two foul shots after an OF technical to give the Chargers a 45-40 lead with 3:12 left.
Salitsky buried two more free throws and Zazzera added another charity toss while OF went 0-9 from the field the rest of the way.