MAYFIELD – After trailing for most of Friday’s Section II Class C play-in game, the No. 14 Mayfield Panthers pulled within two points of the No. 19 Hadley-Luzerne Eagles with slightly less than 4 minutes to play.
They just couldn’t finish the comeback.
Hadley-Luzerne sophomore Jesse DeMarsh dropped a 3-pointer with 3:12 remaining in the game, settling the Eagles down and escaping Mayfield Junior/Senior High School with a 52-47 victory, ending the Panthers’ season.
“Very disappointed all of us are,” Mayfield coach Brian VanNostrand said. “Obviously, everyone’s going to be disappointed when you lose in sectionals, especially in the first round, but we fought back and I have to hand it to Hadley. They hit the big shots when they needed it and we couldn’t capitalize all the way through.”
The Eagles (6-12 overall) advance to the first round of the tournament where they will meet No. 3 Greenwich at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“We’ve got lots of confidence,” Hadley-Luzerne coach Gary Wilson said. “They’re pumped up. The seniors get to put the jersey on again. From this point on, it’s whatever experience we can get out of the ride.”
The Panthers were in trouble starting in the second quarter when the Eagles built a 28-20 lead with 4.6 seconds remaining in the half, but Jay Sweeney made the lead manageable when he knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer, cutting Hadley-Luzerne’s lead to 28-23 at halftime.
Mayfield (10-9 overall) didn’t help itself from the free-throw line, going 4-for-14 from the charity stripe in the first half on its way to an 8-for-25 performance for the game.
“It’s one of those things where we practice them each and every day and at game time, it’s a little different, especially at sectional time,” VanNostrand said.
The Eagles didn’t let up to start the third quarter, opening a 12-point lead after Josh Hala’s 3-pointer with 4:49 to go.
Hala finished with 13 points. DeMarsh had 15 points, while Bolt scored 11 and grabbed 10 rebounds. Hay had 13 points and 12 rebounds.
“I thought every time they had a little spark, we had an answer,” Wilson said. “I was very pleased with our perseverance for a young team. We came in as the last seed and let it all hang out and whatever we could get out of tonight was only going to help because a bulk of my team is sophomores and juniors.”
Luke VanNostrand scored four straight points toward the end of the fourth quarter and Sweeney and Jordan VanNostrand each knocked down 1 of 2 free throws to cut the Eagles’ lead to 38-33, but Hala hit a 3-pointer with 7 seconds to go in the quarter, giving Hadley-Luzerne a 41-33 lead heading into the final 8 minutes.
The Panthers got things going in the fourth as Hennessy scored 55 seconds into the quarter and Dylan Toscano scored four straight points to cut the Eagles’ lead to 41-39 with 5:28 to go in the game.
“We picked up our defensive intensity,” coach VanNostrand said. “We definitely picked it up there. The pressure we put on definitely helped us out a little bit. It brought some life to us. Every kid got some life into them and from there on out.”
But with 3:12 remaining DeMarsh knocked down a 3-pointer to restore the Eagles’ five-point lead, 46-41.
“It was answering the call,” Wilson said. “Somebody stepped up. We talked about using the clock and getting something out of it at the end and not just wasting the clock. We felt if we could put them in a position to work their offense, they were going to have to use the clock, too.”
For the rest of the game, the Panthers never got closer than three points behind as the final buzzer sounded on their season with the Eagles leading 52-47.
Hennessy finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds for a double-double and Luke VanNostrand also had 10 points.
“I said good-bye to the seniors and told them I’d miss them because they’re a very special group, especially in my eyes,” coach VanNostrand said. “For the rest of the guys, the new season starts tomorrow. Even though the basketball season for everyone else isn’t done, ours is just starting. We have to get focused for next year.”
Hadley-Luzerne 52, Mayfield 47
Hadley-Luzerne11 17 13 11 – 52
Mayfield12 11 10 14 – 47
Hala 4-2-13, DeMarsh 5-3-15, Hay 5-3-13, Bolt 5-1-11. Totals: 19-9-52.
Hennessy 4-2-10, Smith 4-0-8, L. VanNostrand 5-0-10, Toscano 3-3-9, J. VanNostrand 1-2-4, Sweeney 2-1-6. Totals: 19-8-47.
3-point goals: Hadley-Luzerne 5 (Hala 3, DeMarsh 2); Mayfield 1 (Hay).