St. Joe's outlasts LHS in Mother of All Rotary OT finals
By John D'Onofrio Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
The momentum swung like a pendulum in the Lions’ Den on Saturday night.
By the middle of the fourth quarter, all that was left on the court were two outstanding high school basketball teams on their last legs slugging it out the old fashioned way.
The crowd, packed in like sardines in some sections, were at the edges of the seats as Lockport and St. Joe’s went to overtime in a Lockport Rotary Club Tip-Off Tournament finals we won’t soon forget.
When the smoke cleared and the dust settled, the Marauders beat the host Lions, 78-73, in one of the best basketball games seen in this city in quite a few years.
As in Friday’s opener against Williamsville East, the Lions jumped out on the Marauders quickly, opening up a nine-point 38-29 lead at halfime, led by senior Charlie Sobieraski’s 14 points. St. Joe’s chipped away at the lead in the third quarter and eventually regained the advantage as the lead changed backand-forth as often as the possessions.
Late in the fourth quarter, St. Joe’s held a small lead, but the Lions crept to within one shot of tying the game in the closing seconds.
Cue Sobieraski (17 points, 7 rebounds), who drained a three-point bucket at the buzzer to tie the game in dramatic fashion at 67-67 as bodies spilled onto the floor, paving the way for overtime.
“It was the heat the moment. We practice them every day,” Sobieraski said. “Coach stresses step into your shot and it worked out for the best. (Senior Ryan) Guyton hustled down and got the rebound and kicked it out and I was wide open. It worked out for the best.”
The Lions got two free throws and a bucket by Lawrence to lead by 4 points early in OT, but the Marauders scored eight straight points and held on to win, led by tourney MVP Justin Hollins’ 29 points.
“That was a fantastic basketball game,” said Marauders head coach Mark Simon. “We played better in the second half. We changed our defense up and hoped it would throw them off balance and it did. Credit our guys. We fell behind a couple of times there and in overtime, I thought it might get away from us, but it didn’t.”
Added the 6-2 senior forward Hollins, “It was a tough game, but we came through.”
Lawrence led the Lion with 20 points. Senior Colin Dougherty added 13 and Moziah Townsend chipped in with 8 points and 10 rebounds. Also for the blue and gold, senior Ryan Guyton finished a strong tournament with 3 points and 11 rebounds.
“I think we just got a little too comfortable,” Sobieraski said. “We were up by four and then they scored eight unanswered points and got the momentum. I thought we were in a good position, but things can changed in the blink of an eye.”
Sophomore Justin Jones had 15 points for St. Joe’s and junior Antonio Morreale added 14.
Besides MVP Hollins, named to the All-Tournament Team were Lockport’s Lawrence, Sobieraski and All-Hustle Award winner Dougherty. Rounding out the all-tourney team were St. Joe’s Morreale, International-Prep junior Terrance James and Williamsville East junior Nick Clough.
Will East beat I-Prep in Saturday’s varsity consolation game, 72-62.