Senior Ronny Bean goes to the basket during action against Inter-Lakes on Friday night. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
December 12, 2011MEREDITH – Brendon Murphy picked a good time to score his only points of the night on Dec. 9.
The Gilford High School senior guard, playing in his first game since his freshman year, stole a pass on defense in a one-point game and went coast-to-coast, putting home a layup with just 12 seconds left to give the visiting Golden Eagles a 45-42 victory over host Inter-Lakes High School in the Division III opener for both schools.
"That was obviously a big steal for Brendon," said veteran GHS coach Chip Veazey. "He gives us that defensive presence out there. It was a good way for him to come out of retirement."
It was a competitive game for two teams playing for the first time, and each squad made runs after falling behind. Gilford came out of the gate firing, as Connor Veazey scored his team's first five points and a Ronny Bean three-pointer gave the Eagles a 10-1 lead with 1:28 left in the first quarter.
"We started well," explained coach Veazey. "We have to get balance to be successful and we were able to do that in the first quarter to build a bit of a lead."
Trailing 10-5 entering the second quarter, the Lakers responded thanks to the play of senior guard Jon Petitti off the bench. Petitti hit a pair of threes early in the frame and finished with eight of his team-high 12 points in the quarter, with I-L taking its first lead when he sank a pair of free throws with 3:46 remaining.
Tied at 15-15, the Lakers closed out the first half on an 8-0 run thanks to baskets from Hayden Jurius and Kier Vicente. Point guard Sean Mussen assisted on both hoops and also scored four points in the run, giving I-L a 23-15 lead at intermission. After falling behind 10-1, the Lakers finished the half on an impressive 22-5 spurt.
"We showed tremendous character, I thought, coming back from 10-1," said I-L second-year coach Mike Rathgeber. "The game was close to being over right there if we didn't settle down a bit and get into it."
Veazey hoped his team would use the halftime break and regain composure coming out of the locker room.
"That was a big move for them," Veazey said of I-L's run. "We made some mistakes in that stretch but we just had to move on and focus on the third quarter."
The Eagles did just that, as Bean got on a roll from the outside to the tune of 11 points in the third, including a trio of threes, to put Gilford ahead 33-31 entering the final frame. Veazey also added a three for the Eagles, while Rich Edson hit a jumper to close out the third quarter scoring.
"Ronny Bean carried them in that third quarter," said Rathgeber. "We knew that was going to happen at some point. And that was one of the last things we talked about at halftime, don't let them get going from the outside."
The senior's sharpshooting was sorely needed, though not unexpected for Gilford.
"He can do that for us," said Veazey of Bean. "I've seen him hit four or five in a row at times."
While momentum shifted dramatically in each of the first three quarters, swings jumped back and forth quite often in the fourth, as Veazey drained a 3 to open the scoring and give Gilford a 36-31 lead.
Mitch Jurius responded for I-L, as he scored and was fouled to cut the deficit to 36-34 after the three-point play. It was 41-38 Gilford when Jurius drained two more freebies to make it a one-point game, and the Lakers took a 42-41 lead when Petitti sank a jumper from the free throw line with 2:02 remaining, I-L's first lead since midway through the third.
Derek Dubois tied the game for Gilford with a free throw with 1:09 left, and a huge offensive rebound from Bean off a missed free throw sent him to the line with just 30 seconds remaining. He sank the second of two to put the Eagles up 43-42, and I-L called timeout to set up a final play and a chance to pull out the win.
"We were going to run our 1-4 offense and put the ball into either Mitch or Hayden with five seconds left," explained Rathgeber.
Things didn't go according to plan however, as Murphy got into a passing lane and stole the ball, sprinting down the floor and putting in his only basket of the game with 12 seconds left to give the Eagles a 45-42 advantage.
"That play felt a little like not having been there before," said Rathgeber of his inexperienced squad.
Petitti got off a potential game-tying three in the final seconds but his shot was just off the mark, giving Gilford a hard-fought three point victory on the road.
"For an early season game I thought we played fairly intelligently late in the game," said Veazey. "I thought the kids hung tough and battled back. It was nice to see them pull it off."
The Eagles did a nice job denying the ball to I-L forwards Mitch and Hayden Jurius, a duo the Lakers will look to often this winter.
"Gilford's plan, and it was a good one, was to take away Mitch and Hayden inside and we had a tough time getting it in there," explained Rathgeber. "But all that aside, it was still our game to win in the final minutes. But we made some mistakes that you can't afford to make when the game is on the line."
Bean led Gilford with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Veazey had 11 points in the win. Jack Athanas played well in the paint, hauling down six rebounds for the Eagles.
Petitti's 12 points led the Lakers, while Mussen had nine points and five rebounds to go along with three assists in a game where he showed flashes of potential for the future. Hayden Jurius scored six points and grabbed 11 rebounds for I-L, while Mitch Jurius had eight point and six boards.
The teams meet again in Gilford on Jan. 19. The Eagles took the first game against I-L last season before the Lakers won the rematch and the playoff game that followed.