The Nor’East Lightning would have been wise to pay heed to the old saying “Never underestimate your opponent” when they faced the upstart fourth grade boys basketball team Phoenix of Darien.
Phoenix overcame a 13-point deficit to win its first game of the season by a score of 31-28 on the Lightning’s home floor in Brewster, NY on April 13.
Phoenix fell behind 13-0 within the first six minutes.
Wesley Rennie almost scored Phoenix’s first points of the season, but his beautiful 3-pointer was called off due to an infraction. Rennie’s strong defensive play resulted in many scoring opportunities for Darien.
Ben Secor got Phoenix on the board with a 3-point jumper from the baseline to make the score 13-3 after six minutes. Secor’s trey seemed to create a spark and Darien’s full-court press forced four quick turnovers.
Darien was not able to capitalize on the turnovers but was able to catch up to the Lightning’s 14 field goal attempts and outshoot the Lightning 5-0 on 3-point attempts.
Phoenix continued the full-court pressure and Logan Troeger and Teddy Christensen each made baskets. Charlie Johnson added two more points plus a free throw.
Sam Hadlow hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to bring Phoenix to within two, and Zarek Swetye stole a pass and made an eight-foot jumper to tie it at 15-15 with just over two minutes to go in the half.
Darien outshot the Lightning 26-20 in the first half, but trailed 19-15.
Charlie Johnson brought Phoenix to within one point with three minutes remaining when he made a free throw to make the score 27-26.
Darien’s constant pressure started to take a toll on the Lightning late in the game. The Nor’easters committed a turnover nearly every time they had the ball.
Harrison Stockdale broke free to hit a 12-foot jumper with under 90 seconds remaining to give Phoenix its first lead of the game at 28-27.
Darien’s defense kept the Lightning from scoring, and with 19 seconds on the clock, Stockdale tied up the Lightning’s point guard for a jump ball, which gave Phoenix possession.
With just seconds on the clock, Charlie Johnson stole the ball and fed it to Sam Hadlow, who put the finishing touch on the game with an easy lay-in.
Troeger led Phoenix with six points and 12 rebounds. Johnson and Swetye each had six points and five steals. Dougie Brown had 14 rebounds, five steals and two points.
Phoenix outshot Nor’East 68-45 and finished in third place in the two-day event.