MAYFIELD - The Canajoharie Cougars found the win column Friday, outrebounding the Mayfield Panthers by 20 on their way to a 51-40 victory at Mayfield High School.
Josh Gonzalez had a monster game for Canajoharie (1-1). He scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. The Cougars as a team had 45 rebounds to Mayfield's 25. The loss was Mayfield's (2-1) first of the season.
After a disappointing loss to Northville on Wednesday, Canajoharie coach Phil Schoff said the reality check was exactly what his team needed.
Canajoharie’s Josh Gonzalez (44) puts up a shot over Mayfield’s Luke VanNostrand (34) and Jordan VanNostrand (24) during Friday’s Western Athletic Conference game at Mayfield High School. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)
"I keep on telling my guys we aren't going to react, we're going to respond, and today we did," said Schoff. "We had to take the loss and turn it into a positive because we know there was definitely a purpose and we didn't want that loss to be in vain."
The Cougars were able to build a steady lead throughout the first half despite three of their five starters spending ample minutes on the bench due to foul trouble. Point guard Dillan Veeder barely saw the floor in the second quarter.
Veeder got Canajoharie started in the first quarter, however, taking the opening tip directly to the basket and converting a layup before five seconds had ticked off the clock. Mayfield's Josh Gallup answered with one of his game-high three baskets from beyond the arc. Gonzalez scored four points in the first quarter for Canajoharie, but he was just getting started. The Cougars led 11-8 after one.
Canajoharie scored four quick points to open the second quarter, but Joe Ringer hit a three-pointer and Jordan VanNostrand made a layup to bring Mayfield back within two. Gonzalez was able to muscle his way inside for three baskets in the quarter and added seven points to his total. Ringer made another three-pointer with 30 seconds remaining, but Gonzalez made a last-second basket to push Canajoharie's halftime lead to 23-17.
Mayfield turned the ball over seven times in the first half and struggled from the field.
"They definitely worked hard for it and some things just didn't fall our way," said Mayfield head coach Brian VanNostrand. "A shot here, a shot there, a turnover here that we should have had, and I went over that at halftime with them."
The third quarter was the worst offensive quarter of the game for both teams. Veeder drained a three-pointer to begin the scoring that was answered immediately with a three by Gallup. Gonzalez then scored six straight points to give Canajoharie a 12-point cushion, their largest to that point.
Despite scoring the first six points of the fourth quarter, Mayfield faltered midway through and allowed the Cougars to score nine unanswered points. Gonzalez had six of them. Jay Sweeney hit two 3-pointers in the quarter for Mayfield, but Veeder made six free throws down the stretch to seal the Cougars' first win of the season.
"We responded with a lot of heart and we didn't let the tempo of the game or the intensity of the fans and stuff like that get to our head," said Schoff.
Gonzalez made his presence known in each quarter and enjoyed his best game of the young season, but Schoff says the junior is just getting started.
"I don't even think we've seen the best of Josh yet," said Schoff. "The potential that he has is limitless and if we can just get him in a position where he's comfortable and confident around the basket, then you're going to see a force, big time."
Veeder chipped in 18 points for the Cougars, 10 of which came in the final quarter.
Gallup paced the Panthers with 10 points, while Luke VanNostrand added six points and 13 rebounds.
The big man had 18 rebounds in Mayfield's last game against Fort Plain.
"He knew coming into the season he was going to have to fill some big shoes with Ryan Hennessy leaving," said VanNostrand. "He's responded in a great way so far and I'm very proud."
Both teams will be on the road Wednesday. Canajoharie will be in Fort Plain while Mayfield travels to Galway. Both games tipoff at 7:30 p.m..
Canajoharie 51, Mayfield 40
Canajoharie11 12 9 19 - 51
Mayfield8 9 7 16 - 40
Veeder 5-6-18, Gonzalez 11-1-23, Brownell 2-0-4, Davis 1-0-2, Chapman 0-1-1, Anderson 1-0-3. Totals 20-8-51.
Gallup 3-1-10, Briggs 1-2-4, Sweeney 3-1-9, L. VanNostrand 3-0-6, Ringer 2-0-6, J. VanNostrand 2-1-5. Totals 14-5-40.
3-point-goals: Canajoharie 3 (Veeder 2, Anderson); Mayfield 7 (Gallup 3, Ringer 2, Sweeney 2)