NORTHVILLE - The Northville Falcons gave the Canajoharie Cougars quite a scare.
Early in the fourth quarter of Wednesday night's Western Athletic Conference boys basketball game, the Cougars held a 12-point lead, but all of a sudden the Falcons shooters' got hot, hitting three 3-point baskets in the quarter, closing the gap to one before Zach Folts grabbed a steal and converted into a fast-break layup, to give the Cougars a 44-41 victory.
"That was pretty big," said Folts, who scored a game-high 15 points. "If not for that, our bench would never have got started and we would have never had our heads up. I just really want to thank the bench; it's not just a single-person effort. It's a team. That steal sent us into our overdrive."
Canajoharie’s Dillan Veeder (23) shoots over Northville’s Kalob Russell and Jim Grega during Wednesday’s Western Athletic Conference North Division boys basketball game at Northville Central School. (The Leader-Herald/Mike Zummo)
Before that, the Cougars were quiet.
They took an 11-point lead at the end of the third quarter and Kevin Shannon, who scored 11 points, hit a free throw 50 seconds into the fourth quarter to give the Cougars (2-1 overall, 1-0 WAC North) a 40-28 lead.
Then, the Falcons found their offense.
Jason VanNostrand hit a layup to cut the lead to 40-30, and then Jim Grega hit a 3-pointer to bring the Falcons within six points.
Canajoharie's Dillan Veeder widened the lead back to eight points.
Then, Nick Jonas came off the bench to answer, knocking down two straight 3-point buckets to close the gap to 42-39 with 3:27 remaining.
Jonas led the Falcons (0-2 overall, 0-1 WAC North) with 11 points.
"He gave us a spark off the bench," Northville coach John Karbowski said. "We've got a couple of shooters that can come off the bench. I think that's ultimately what got us back in the game.
Tim Monette brought the Falcons to within a point with a layup.
"We just had our heads down," Folts said. "They were coming back and made a couple shots. We just needed to pick our heads up and get back in it."
That's where the Northville offense stopped and Northville had several chances to try to grab the lead. However, after the Falcons forced Canajoharie into a 10-second violation, Folts stole a Northville pass and dribbled the ball across the court for an easy layup, giving the Cougars a three-point lead.
"That was the ballgame," Schoff said. "If you don't have him grabbing that ball and that layup, then it's a one-point ball game. That changes things altogether."
The Falcons had one last shot with 7.5 seconds remaining, but 3-point shot was tipped on the way up and fell shy of the basket as the final buzzer sounded, allowing the Cougars to escape with a victory.
"The kids played hard, showed some heart, which is something emphasize," Karbowski said. "I thought that was something positive to take out of the loss."
Early in the game, the Falcons had trouble getting through the Cougars' defense, which allowed them to build an early lead.
"We just made them go faster than they wanted to, and force turnovers, which is good for our defense," Folts said.
Canajoharie had control from the opening tip as Josh Gonzalez won the jump ball to start the game, knocked it back toward Veeder, who turned it into the first points of the game, just four seconds in.
"We played a fast-break game," Schoff said. "It was very fast-paced and we like to get out and run. We're athletic and I thought we handled the pressure fairly well in the first half."
Northville's defense also was forcing the Cougars into some turnovers, but missed eight shots in the first half. They also turned the ball over 10 times.
"We had a couple of costly turnovers in the first half," Karbowski said. "We missed a couple of chippies around the basket. I told the guys at halftime things will fall. We just have to work inside a little bit."
Canajoharie 44, Northville 41
Canajoharie13 15 11 5 - 44
Northville7 12 9 13 - 41
Veeder 4-0-8, Gonzalez 3-2-8, Folts 7-1-15, Shannon 4-1-11, Ouderkirk 0-2-2. Totals: 18-6-44.
Monette 4-1-9, J. VanNostrand 3-0-6, Grega 3-1-9, Jonas 4-0-11, Henderson 0-2-2, Hayward 1-0-2, Russell 1-0-2. Totals: 16-4-41.
3-point goals: Canajoharie 2 (Shannon 2); Northville 5 (Jonas 3, Grega 2)