WELLSVILLE-After waiting nearly a month to play their first matchup due to postponement, the Wellsville Tigers and Lowellville Rockets showed that the delay was worth it.
In front of a boisterous senior night crowd at Wellsville High School, the Tigers had to fight for every bit of their 58-56 win Tuesday.
With the victory, Wellsville (15-1, 11-0) clinches at least a share of the Inter-Tri County league lower tier title. Lowellville (12-3, 8-3) falls three games back with three to play.
"This was our last time playing on this floor and it was very important to us to go out with a victory," Wellsville senior guard Nate Scott said. "Lowellville is a good team and made us earn it."
Scott had 25 points and fellow senior Camden Douglas had eight points four rebounds and five assists to lead the Tigers to their second straight share of the conference crown. Seth Bradford had six rebounds. The Tigers can clinch the title outright with a win over Western Reserve on Friday.
"We have one more win to take care of but this puts us in great shape," Wellsville coach David 'Bug" Thompson said. "We didn't play our best game tonight, but we made the plays when we had to."
The Tigers held Lowellville leading scorer Nick Ballone to 15 points and five assists, but forward Paolo DePasquale picked up the slack with 22 points. For much of the night, the Rockets did an effective job at slowing down the fast-paced Tiger offense, challenging Wellsville's shooters with a zone defense.
"Lowellville dictated the tempo," Thompson said. "We had a tough time getting them out of their zone all night."
It was the first time all year the Tigers were held under 60 points.
"Their zone was very challenging because they extended it beyond the three-point line," Scott said. "It really made us focus on moving the ball."
The fourth quarter was a slugfest, with neither team able to shake free. Douglas made two free throws with 21 seconds left to give the Tigers a 56-53 lead. After a missed Lowellville three, Scott sealed the deal, taking one last cross-court pass from Douglas for a layup with six seconds to go. Nick Ballone made a meaningless three at the buzzer.
"The seniors grew up playing together," Scott said. "We are a family and it felt awesome to go out like this tonight."
LOWELLVILLE SCORING: Alex Harklerode 1-0-3, Nick Ballone 6-2-15, Pat Mangine 4-0-8, Spiro Schialdone 3-0-6, Paolo DePaquale 7-7-22, Cole Beatty 1-0-2, Nick Piccirillo 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 21, 9-10: 56.
WELLSVILLE SCORING: Camden Douglas 2-2-8, Nate Scott 8-6-25, Seth Bradford 4-0-8, Jordan Sloan 4-3-11, Sam McIntosh 1-0-2, Brendon Carr 1-0-2, Jansen Stoakes 1-0-2, Antonio Fultz 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 21, 11-12: 58.
Three-point goals: Lowellville 3 (Ballone 2, DePasquale), Wellsville: 5 (Scott 3, Douglas 2).