Strong third quarter lifts Gowanda to win

GOWANDA –The North Collins Eagles boys basketball team played Gowanda close in the first half, but like the first meeting, the Gowanda Panthers dominated the third quarter en route to a 66-32 non-league victory on Wednesday night.

The Eagles (1-5) came out and played a strong first quarter, playing at their pace in a solid half court game. Nate Brawdy led Gowanda early with a couple quick baskets, although North Collins responded quickly to score on well executed plays.

Gowanda was eventually able to add a couple buckets in transition, prior to Tanner Loretto hitting a three in the final seconds of the quarter to bring the visitors within three.

“For the past two weeks, we have started slow,” stated Gowanda coach Andy Bobseine. “They have a quality team and we did not take anything for granted. Hopefully, we can play to our potential out of the gate so we don’t put ourselves in a bind.”

In the second quarter, Gowanda mixed things up with full-court pressure at times on North Collins. The pressure did not lead to easy turnovers, although the game was played at a faster pace, which led to Gowanda getting better looks at the basket. Exchange student Matias Rikka led the way that quarter to give Gowanda a 10-point lead heading into halftime.

During the first two minutes of the second half, Gowanda forced multiple turnovers, which led to many fast break points for the Panthers. The defensive intensity continued as Gowanda limited the Eagles to few shot attempts on their way to outscoring North Collins 23-5 in the third quarter.

“We have played well in the first half this year,” said North Collins coach Jan Warren. “I am not sure if we are getting tired out, but we have struggled in the second half. We have a difficult time playing consistent for long periods of time.”

Gowanda (5-1) continued the pressure in the fourth quarter as well to keep the Eagles off balance.

“We were able to keep them on edge,” stated Bobseine. “We put them in many bad positions where they were forced to make tough decisions. We did a good job of attacking them and the transition buckets were a plus.”

Brawdy led the way for the Panthers with 28 points and 20 rebounds while Rikka contributed with 18 points and 8 rebounds. Ture Hassler also added eight points.

“We have the core of the team to do something special,” Bobseine said. “We hope to have strong leadership heading forward to battle in a competitive league.”

North Collins was led by Tanner Loretto with eight points.

According to Warren, “(The Panthers) are a good team and will win a lot of games moving forward with a chance to win the league title. We have some work to do. We will continue to improve and will be fine as long as we work hard.”

Both teams’ centers left the court injured during the third quarter of the game. The Eagles’ Tyler Robinson landed on his back and did not return to the game. Gowanda’s Hassler was carried off with a re-injured ankle.

Both teams are in action on Friday as North Collins travels to Brocton while Gowanda visits Roy-Hart.