Panthers hiss in Fredonia

Brawdy bucket gives Gowanda lead for good in close game

OBSERVER Photo by Joe Conti Gowanda’s Ture Hassler drives as Fredonia’s Nico Pucci (23) and Andrew Field (33) pursue during Wednesday night’s high school basketball game. Gowanda won, 61-55.

The Fredonia crowd was rocking after a 94-18 win for the JV squad Wednesday night. Gowanda captain Nate Brawdy finally silenced the gym with just over a minute to go in the varsity matchup, sending the home crowd out into the cold, stunned and disappointed.

Tied 52-52, Brawdy drilled a three-pointer to give Gowanda the lead. The back-and-forth game finally endured its final lead change of the night, as Gowanda held on to defeat Fredonia, 61-55, to spoil the home opener for the Hillbillies.

“We gave Brawdy a great look at a three, and the rest was history after that,” said Fredonia coach Greg Lauer.

The game could not have been closer early on. The first quarter featured nine lead changes, each team held a lead after each of the first two quarters, and neither team held a double-digit lead all night long.

The largest lead of the game came in the third quarter, when Gowanda went on an 8-0 run to take a 44-36 lead. Ture Hassler, a European senior foreign exchange student, had 10 points in the third quarter, and Gowanda seemed to have it all figured out against Fredonia.

That was not the case.

Fredonia came storming back late in the third and leading into the fourth quarter. The run was punctuated by a three from Tyler Putney, the lone freshman on either squad.

“We’re going to look to him to shoot from outside,” said Lauer. “He’s our best three-point shooter.”

As chants of “He’s a freshman!” came ringing down from the Fredonia fan section, all signs pointed to Fredonia coming all the way back to sweep both the JV and varsity matchups.

Gowanda had other plans.

After both teams traded buckets, the ball found its way to Brawdy, a 6-foot-3 senior named as the team’s lone captain for the season. Brawdy rose up at the top of the key and drilled the contested shot, sticking out his tongue and nodding his head after drilling the go-ahead bucket.

“We looked to (Brawdy) to make a play in the last two minutes and he did,” said Gowanda coach Andy Bobseine. “We wanted to make sure we got it in the hands of him.”

Lauer acknowledged he had been coaching against Brawdy since he was a freshman, so he was well aware of the Gowanda captain’s ability to shoot from distance.

“When it came down to it, he hit the shot that mattered,” said Lauer.

Following a Fredonia miss and a lay-up by Matias Rikka, it became a matter of making free-throws for Gowanda. Brawdy made that part look effortless, as he hit four in a row from the line to close the game out.

“It was there for the taking,” said Bobseine. “We usually don’t get an opportunity where it’s this close, in their house, to take advantage of something like this.”

Aside from the big shot, Lauer believes the reason his team fell just short was its rebounding.

“You can point to a whole bunch of plays where we could make up six points if we stopped them from getting on the glass,” said Lauer. “That’s the difference. It really was.”

Twitter: @bradencarmen