Falcons squeak past Center, 59-57
ANTELOPE – With wins expected to come at a premium in this season’s Pioneer Valley League boys basketball race, the Colfax Falcons opened PVL action here Thursday night with a league road victory to savor.
Trailing host Center by three points with less than two minutes to play, the Falcons made all the key plays down the stretch and in the process escaped the Cougars’ den with an exciting 59-57 opening night PVL victory.
Sparking a late game surge, Mason Ahrens connected on a huge trey, Garren O’Keefe hit the go-ahead bucket at the 27 second mark and Vic Edwards sank the second of a two-shot free throw attempt with just 11 seconds to play for the Falcons’ final margin of victory.
The win for Colfax raises the team’s overall mark to 12-5 going into Saturday’s non-league game with Div. IV power Dixon at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.
“Any win in the PVL this year is going to be big,” said Colfax coach Terry O’Keefe. “Getting one down here on the road though in this fashion is even bigger.”
Following Edwards’ free toss that made the score 59-57, Center opted to drive to the hoop but the Cougars’ Daviion Rossi’s lay-up attempt was strong and after a battle for the rebound, the Cougars couldn’t get off a second shot.
“Both teams played really hard,” said O’Keefe. “We had a lot of different kids make big plays for us tonight.”
The game was a tooth and nail battle the whole way with no more than six points separating the two teams the entire night.
Center, despite losing all-PVL point guard T.J. Caldwell to a knee injury late in the first period, led the Falcons after one, 13-12.
But Colfax, despite scoring leader Garren O’Keefe saddled with three fouls, followed heady play from Ahrens, Ryland Heimann, Nate Sawi and Anthony Lundberg to take a 31-26 lead at the halftime break.
The second half was much like the first, a see-saw battle going back and forth and with Sawi and O’Keefe splitting 10 points, the Falcons went into the fourth quarter with a 44-40 advantage.
But that lead didn’t last long as the Cougars, playing inspired ball without Caldwell, used five points from Rossi and four more from Elias Bonds to take a 55-52 lead with just under two minutes to play.
However, from there, O’Keefe hit one of two free throws and after a steal, Ahrens followed with his big triple.After Bonds scored again to give Center a 57-56 advantage with 38 seconds to play, O’Keefe worked the baseline and scored to make it 58-57 Colfax at the 27 second mark.
The Falcons then forced a Cougars turnover with 12 seconds to play before Center fouled Edwards. Colfax, which hit just 12 of 23 free throws on the night, converted one of the two to set the stage for the final Center miss.
Garren O’Keefe, despite sitting heavy minutes because of foul trouble, led the Falcons with 23 points while Ahrens stepped up with 14 and Sawi scored 12. Heimann added four while Edwards scored three. Meanwhile, Lundberg, despite not scoring, also played strong minutes in the win.
Rossi led Center with 18 points while Henry Oill added nine and Bonds eight. The Cougars (7-10, 0-1) were 10 of 13 from the foul line.
Colfax hosts Bear River Tuesday at 7 p.m. in its next PVL game.
In the JV game, Center took a 61-43 win. Colfax (10-5 overall) was led by Sam Sinor’s 12 points, Daniel Bliss with 10, Mike LaVigne with eight and Blake Havens with seven.