A HEAD ABOVE THE COMPETITION — Gowanda High School basketball player Zack Stevens goes up for a shot against South Park High School on Dec. 27. The game was held during the Emerling Ford Holiday Tournament at the Springville-Griffith Institute High School. Photos by Dave DeLuca.
SPRINGVILLE — While some of the coaches who brought their teams to the Emerling Ford Holiday Tournament, held at Springville-Griffith Institute High School, may have looked at the Dec. 27 – 29 event as another list of games on the roster, Gowanda High School Coach Andy Bobseine was returning home.
Bobseine graduated from S-GI with the class of 1998. He played multiple sports, while in school, including basketball.
After graduation, Bobseine stayed in the area, substitute teaching in the Springville School District for six years and coaching volleyball and soccer. This season is Bobseine’s first as the Gowanda boys varsity head coach. Gowanda played South Park and West Valley, during the Emerling Tournament, and finished in third place.
“The tournament was a lot of fun,” Bobseine said. “Any time you have an opportunity to come back home and coach a couple of games is nice, but I just wish we would’ve played a better game, against South Park.
“I see a lot of good things [S-GI] Coach [Frank] Noeson is doing on varsity and he has a great JV coach, in Mr. [Ed] Bates to lean on, if he has to,” Bobseine added. “I really think Noeson has come back for his second stint as varsity coach more knowledgeable, prepared and experienced, which will help his team be competitive, in every game, in a very difficult league.”
Bobseine and his team played the West Valley Wildcats on Dec. 29, during the Emerling Ford Holiday Tournament’s consolation game.
The Gowanda Panthers led 60 – 56, against the West Valley Wildcats, late in the fourth quarter.
LINING UP THE SHOT — Gowanda’s Lucas Brawdy rises and fires against South Park Dec. 27 during the Emerling Ford Holiday Tournament held at Springville-GI.
West Valley’s Mike Grigsby hit a 3-pointer, while being fouled, with 1.1 seconds left in the game. He then completed the 4-point play on the ensuing free throw, to tie the score at 60 – 60. Grigsby scored 15 points in the fourth quarter and finished with 29, for the game.
When Grigsby was fouled, Gowanda’s Chase Williams was removed from the game with his fifth foul, leaving Gowanda with four players. The Panthers entered the overtime period, playing four on five against the Wildcats.
“Playing four against five in overtime was something I wouldn’t wish on anybody,” Bobseine said. “At one point, I said that this would be absolutely crazy, if we can pull it out. We went to a box-and-none set on defense and wanted to force them to take outside shots.”
Gowanda’s Zack Stevens hit a turnaround jumper, to give Gowanda a 63 – 62 lead. Gowanda held on, from there, to take the 66 – 63 win.
Stevens led the way for the Panthers, scoring 24 points and pulling down 30 rebounds, while playing with an injured knee.
“Stevens played a heck of a game,” Bobseine said. “I don’t know if [his rebound total] is a school record, but it’s got to be pretty close. He controlled the second half. Everybody jumped on his shoulders and went with him.”
The 6-foot, 4-inch junior blocked a West Valley layup, late in overtime. Stevens controlled the paint, with a series of post-moves and offensive rebounds.
“We had a tough time keeping Stevens off the boards,” said West Valley Coach Jason Kearney.
During the Panthers’ tournament opener against South Park, Stevens had 19 points, but his effort did not bring Gowanda to a victory and South Park won 67 – 36.
“Going into the West Valley game, we knew Stevens was going to be the difference maker, against their 3 – 2 zone,” Bobseine said. “We struggled against South Park’s 3 – 2 zone, because we didn’t have very good ball rotation on the perimeter, and we failed to penetrate the seams of the zone, using the dribble. I really felt that, if we could get the ball into Stevens, whether it be on the block or up at the foul line, we could get some easy buckets, which proved to be the case, all night.”
Gowanda was missing two starters and a sixth man, due to injuries. The Panthers brought seven players to the tournament, while West Valley, Springville and South Park were each 10 or more deep. Bobseine said that his team’s situation led to his trying to keep the players as fresh as possible, late in the game.
“Injuries and academic issues have really taken a toll on a team that is already really young and inexperienced,” he said. “Our lack of depth is always a concern and our legs get a bit heavy, at the end of every game. I try to save my time outs for the second half, just to give my kids a chance to finish the game strong.
“It doesn’t help when our league opponents all try to play an up-tempo style against us, but our lack of depth has provided a great opportunity for my kids to get some quality varsity minutes that will only help us, in the future. I don’t have a single senior on the roster, at the moment.”
Williams scored 17 points, behind Stevens’ 24. Jordan Young had 15 and Lucas Brawdy had 6, while Matt Shea had 4.
With Gowanda’s win against West Valley, the Panthers took third place in the holiday tournament and Stevens was named to the all-tournament team.
The Panthers resumed their game schedule on Jan. 3, against Southwestern Central School.