Waterford—After an unbecoming second half the Saratoga Central Catholic Saints still found themselves in the game. The final seconds crushed all their hopes when Waterford-Halfmoon senior Joe Panetta hit a jump shot to take the lead. The Fordians emerged victorious in a 46-44 final.
Coach Brett Simpson said, “You could tell that Waterford wanted it a little bit more. We got a little shell shocked and that’s what happens when you have a young team, playing three sophomores a lot of minutes. But we got it back to the final shot and for the second game in a row it didn’t go our way.”
Waterford-Halfmoon received the ball with 20 seconds remaining in the game after SCC’s Anthony Barile couldn’t get his shot to go in at the rim. Following a timeout, the Fordians calmly ran their offense until Panetta finally got an open lane. Beating Catone off the dribble, Panetta went strong towards the hoop, pulling up just after the foul line for a contested jumper. Panetta finished the game with six points, four of which in the fourth quarter.
SCC’s last second chance to tie went to their lone senior, Jordan Catone. As they tried to force the pass downcourt to Catone it was tipped by Todd Kelley and time expired. Kelley, contributed much more to the game than a deflected pass, responsible for 11 of the Fordians’ 23 points in the first half.
The game began with the Saints taking control of much of the first half. While they were aggressive on offense and defense SCC struggled to gain much ground. Much of this can be attributed to the experienced Waterford-Halfmoon defense they were matched up against. The Fordians forced multiple turnovers and out rebounding the young Saints, keeping the game close. SCC entered halftime with a six point lead, 29-23.
“We handled the pressure well. In the first half we got good shots, and got it to the guys we needed to get it to,” said Simpson.
Things changed for the Saints in the second half, as offensively they came out like a ball without air. SCC forced shots and weakly went to the rim. Meanwhile, their rebounding was lacking throughout the game which made second chance points few and far between. These factors caused a six minute scoring drought to start the second half. The Saints’ defense held strong for most of the third quarter but eventually the lack of offensive intensity crept over to the defensive end. Waterford-Halfmoon outscored SCC 15-4 in the quarter to take a 38-33 lead.
Simpson said, “We just needed to see the ball go through the net. We’re used to scoring 20 points a quarter. The fourth quarter came around and the ball started going through the net, so we got a little confidence.”
The Saints bounced back in the fourth quarter, driving to the basket and playing gritty defense. This powered them back into the game before falling 46-44.
“The other team loved to talk, so that got us going,” noted Catone.
If there was one particular bright spot for the Saints in the game it would be the play by forward Hayden Day. Day finally began to show flashes of what made him a top player on JV last year, having his hands all over the game. While Day only scored eight points, he established himself as the Saints’ most consistent rebounder and blocked multiple key shots.
“I just saw myself rebounding better and being more aggressive,” said Day.
Tonight’s loss puts two losses on the books for the young season. They will try to bounce back against Stillwater next Tuesday.
“It’s all part of learning with a young team. We aren’t trying to play our best basketball now. We’re trying to play our best basketball in Sectionals,” said Simpson.