MAYFIELD - For much of the first half and nearly all of the second half, the Mayfield boys basketball team found itself facing a deficit against Western Athletic Conference North Division rival Northville on Wednesday.
However, the Panthers held the lead when it mattered most - at the final buzzer - to earn a hard-fought 44-43 win over the Falcons.
"[Northville] gave us all we wanted and then some tonight," Mayfield coach Brian VanNostrand said. "We knew coming it would be a close game. It's a rivalry game and even though they had a short bench, they gave us a battle."
Mayfield’s Jordan VanNostrand (24) goes up for a shot over Northville’s Nate Edwards during Wednesday’s Western Athletic Conference North Division game at Mayfield High School. (The Leader-Herald/Paul Wager)
After dressing just seven players for Wednesday's game, the short-handed Falcons battled the Panthers for 32 minutes.
"The kids played hard," Northville coach John Karbowski III said. "I told the guys before the game that the records don't matter. The last couple of years, we've gone down to the wire with Mayfield just about every time."
The latest meeting was no different.
However, in the second half the Falcons saw one of their few big bodies - Devin Holmes - whistled for his fourth foul with 3:26 left in the third quarter. Holmes played less than two minutes in the fourth quarter before picking up his fifth and final foul.
With Holmes out, Northville was outmuscled by Jordan and Luke VanNostrand on the offensive and defensive glass. Luke VanNostrand finished with a career-high 21 rebounds, while Jordan VanNostrand had 11 boards as Mayfield outrebounded Northville, 45-38.
"Rebounding was huge for us tonight. Jordan [VanNostrand] and Luke [VanNostrand] have stepped up to the plate for us all year long," coach VanNostrand said. "They did a great job on the boards for us tonight."
Luke VanNostrand also led the second-half charge for the Panthers, scoring 13 of his team-high 15 points in the final 16 minutes as Mayfield rallied from a 24-16 halftime deficit.
The Panthers led 12-11 after the first quarter before Northville took control by outscoring Mayfield 13-4 in the second quarter.
"Getting the lead in the first half was just pure heart," Karbowski said.
However, Mayfield battled all the way back in the second half to earn its fifth win in six games this season.
Despite the second-half surge, the Panthers led for just 1:29 of the third quarter and just the final 21 seconds of the final quarter.
"We didn't have the lead for long, but we had it when it mattered most," coach VanNostrand said.
Trailing 34-29 heading into the fourth quarter, Mayfield scored four of the first six points in the quarter to pull within a point at 34-33.
"[Mayfield] knocked down some shots in the second half and that was the difference," Karbowski said.
The Falcons managed to maintain a slim lead, holding a 43-38 advantage with 2:55 to play after a basket by Danny Reidell who finished with a game-high 23 points for Northville.
However, Holmes picked up his final foul with 2:55 to play and Mayfield took advantage, outscoring the Falcons 6-0 the rest of the way.
Luke VanNostrand hit 1-of-2 free throws on Holmes' fifth foul to make it 43-39 before Josh Gallup sank his third 3-pointer of the game to pull the Panthers within one with 1:43 remaining.
After Northville's Nate Edwards went 0-for-2 from the line with 40.3 seconds left, Luke VanNostrand have Mayfield the lead for the first time in the fourth quarter with 21 seconds to play.
Northville called a timeout to set up its final shot, but Reidell missed a 3-pointer. The Falcons' Nick Jonas snared the rebound but missed the putback. Jordan VanNostrand grabbed the rebound for Mayfield and was fouled with 3.2 seconds to play. He missed both free-throw attempts, but Reidell missed a long-range 3-pointer at the buzzer, allowing the Panthers to escape with the win.
"We missed a lot of shots around the rim. If one or two of those go in, it's a different result for us," Karbowski said. "Things didn't bounce our way tonight, but we gave them an battle, and we get another shot at them later in the season."
Luke VanNostrand led Mayfield with 15 points, while Jay Sweeney added 12 points and seven assists. Gallup had nine points on three 3-pointers for the Panthers, who had 18 turnovers to Northville's nine.
Reidell led Northville with 23 points, while Jonas finished with 10 points for the Falcons.
Mayfield (5-1 overall, 4-1 WAC North) will host Kings Christian in a non-league contest Friday at 6 p.m.
"We're off to a very good start," coach VanNostrand said. "The guys are really starting to believe in what we're trying to accomplish. A win like this will go a long way for us."
Northville (2-4 overall, 1-3 WAC North) is off until Dec. 27 when it hosts the Woodward Tournament. The host Falcons will face Duanesburg in their first-round matchup at 7:30 p.m. Galway will face Doane Stuart in the first game at 6 p.m.
The consolation and championship games are slated for Dec. 28 at 6 and 7:30 p.m., respectively.
"We've got the Woodward Tournament up next," Karbowski said. "We've got a week to prepare and we've got three good teams in the tournament this year."
Mayfield 44, Northville 43
Northville 11 13 8 11 - 43
Mayfield12 4 13 15 - 44
Edwards 3-0-6, Jonas 5-0-10, Russell 1-0-2, Reidell 9-3-23, Holmes 1-0-2. Totals 19-3-43.
Ringer 1-0-3, Gallup 3-0-9, J. VanNostrand 0-1-1, Sweeney 4-2-12, L. VanNostrand 5-5-15, Lanza 1-0-2, Yager 1-0-2. Totals 15-8-44.
3-point goals: Northville 2 (Reidell 2); Mayfield 6 (Gallup 3, Sweeney 2, Ringer).