Byram Hills Advances to Section Finals With 44-34 Win Over Somers
Bobcats Grit out Victory in Semis
Wednesday night at the County Center, Byram Hills Boys Basketball Team advanced to the Section One, Class A Final with a 44-34 victory over the Somers Tuskers. But the ten point margin does not reflect how the Somers’ defense frustrated the well established Bobcat offense.
The Tuskers played a pressing defense that kept the ball on the perimeter and frequently had the Byram Hills guards trapped in double and triple teams. So effective, Somers seemed as if they were sneaking a sixth or seventh man on the floor. It wasn’t any easier inside for Andrew Groll either.
Getting a bit of his own medicine underneath, Tom Garguilo rejected the Byram Hills center, and Anthony Maestri hit a jumper at the other end to give Somers an early 10-5 lead.
Byram Hills Stands Up
But Andrew’s girth and his brother’s fearless pursuit of the hoop went a long way in providing the equalizer. Matt Groll sunk two free throws after driving the paint, and on the next possession, Andrew would not be denied with a spin move to the basket.
Moments later, a perfectly executed Alley-oop from Mark Sardo to Jared Friedberg brought the Bobcat student body to their feet and gave Byram Hills its first leg up at 11-10. But a layup and then a three by Ryan Grossman gave Somers a four point advantage after one.
Not letting the disadvantage deter his nose for the rim, Matt Groll twice powered past the clutter in the paint and got the Bobcats the lead. An emphatic block by Andrew on the other end kept it in the family. But Matt Maloney and Garguilo made sure Somers didn’t shrink, and the team traded baskets to end the half tied at 22.
Byram Hills’ Ross Weinfeld who was largely stymied in his role as playmaker in the first half, quickly broke the deadlock after the intermission. Patt Melly would answer back for Somers by spinning through the paint for two. But the ferocious defense on Somers’ part seemed to lose a step, and the game started to come a bit easier for the Bobcats.
An alley-oop from Sinon to Friedberg said as much, and another three by Weinfeld opened the lead to five with 1:56 remaining in the third.
Somers Slows on their Feet
On the other hand, if the Tuskers feet were slightly slower, their mitts were just as quick. Garguilo picked Weinfeld’s pocket at half court, and stole back momentum with a fast break basket. Fortunately, the backboard was in a much more giving mood for Byram Hills. Liam Nowlin banked in a three to close the 3rd quarter score at 34-28.
Fatigue and pressure probably playing a part, the score didn’t move until Matt Maloney hit a three with 4:55 remaining. That would turn out to be Somers’ last gasp.
Sinon nailed a tightly contested three, and Jared Friedberg’s subsequent triple at 3:57 would prompt the Byram Hills’ student body signature chorus. “We can’t hear you,” they demoralized the Somers faithful.
Bobcats Prove Too Much for Tuskers
Somers would respond with a jumper to cut the lead to seven. Unfortunately, the Tuskers were plagued by both an unkind rim, and a number of bricks banked off the backboard. Still, Byram failed on three separate occasions to ice the game by missing the front end of one and ones.
All doubt ended when Jared Friedberg came up with a steal off an offensive rebound and found Weinfeld streaking into the backcourt. Dishing to Nowlin, the Byram Hills reserve ended up on the line, and one free throw had Somers raising the white flag.
Afterwards, Andrew Groll acknowledged the intensity of Somers defense, but felt the coaching staff gave Byram Hills enough game plan to succeed. “We just had to beat the press and get the ball inside,” said the senior center.
On the other hand, Matt Groll didn’t ponder the X’s and O’s to blackboard the victory. “We just wanted it,” he concluded.