Boys Varsity Basketball
Game Summaries & Headlines.
The Massaponax Panthers came into the Forge on Friday night and hustled their way to a 73-64 Commonwealth District win over the Eagles. Dorion Staples was the game’s high scorer with 23 points, while the GREEN’s Josh Osakwe tossed in 22 points for the good guys.
The Forge had played a very tough early season schedule and Friday’s set back puts them at 4-10 overall and 1-2 in district play. The Eagles are a young group and the team normally plays a hard and aggressive brand of basketball. On this night, the Forge team that played before the holiday break, was still on break. “We play with a lot of energy and a lot of intensity, said Eagles bench boss Anthony Mills after the game. We didn’t have that tonight”.
In the first after Osakwe put the “good guys” on the board first, but the Eagles quickly fell behind and were chasing the lead for the better part of the quarter. Forge junior Trevor Franklin tied the game with a “BULLS-EYE” from the top of the arc and Osakwe gave them their first lead at 13-12 when he got the hoop and the harm in the paint. A bucket from Josiah Jones in the last minute of the quarter game the Forge one point lead at 15-14 and Osakwe was fouled in the paint with 2.6 left. The senior missed the first free throw but buried the second and the Eagles took a 16-14 lead to the quarter break.
In the second quarter, the game turned into a rugby scrum and the physicality on the floor was the order of the stanza. The play got sloppy with bodies flying all over the floor without a call. “We have to let this group go through stuff like that.” said Mills “The only way they are going to learn is teach them that you have to deal with that, and I’m surprised we didn’t adjust to it”. Forge went ahead 19-18 as Osakwe hit a bomb from beyond the left arc with 5:18 until halftime. The visitors would respond though as Staples scored on the next three Massaponax possessions giving the Panthers a 25-21 advantage with 2:15 left. It was during this sequence that the Eagles were not handling the physical part of the game well, and were losing every 50/50 ball. Forge battled through it late and got buckets from Osakwe, two free throws from Franklin and a bucket with 18 seconds left in the half to send the two teams to the locker rooms with the Panthers on top 31-27.
Starting the second half it was a Staples Show for the visiting Panthers as he scored nine points in the frame, opening the second half with a bomb from the left corner. The Panthers would outscore the Eagles 22-14 in the third and it looked like they were on their way to a rout. “It’s called being outworked” Mills said. “Massaponax did a great job outworking us” The visitors built up a 10-point advantage (48-38) with 1:59 left in the quarter. The Eagles could only muster three more points in the final minute and went into the final quarter trailing 53-41.
Would this be another deficit-cutting stanza? The Eagles started out well as Martin Kawa buried a jumper in the first minute of the quarter. Buckets by Staples, free throws from Khai Seargeant, and buckets from Jack Clements and Lanxton Athy had the game spinning out of control and the Panthers holding a 62-43 advantage with 5:11 left. The Forge was being outworked on the glass and the visitors were far more aggressive than the Eagles down the stretch. The clocked ticked under the 4 minute mark and the Forge could not take advantage of an almost 3 minute stretch where Massaponax was missing shots and turning the ball over The only problem was, the Eagles were doing the same thing on their end of the floor. “That’s called growing pains, said Mills with a big grin. “That’s stuff that we have to keep working on as a coaching staff and a team.” Franklin cut the Panthers lead inside double digits on a drive with 1:11 left. The problem was that was as close as the Eagles would get and Massaponax earned a couple of 3 point plays in the final minute to put a stamp on this one and hand the Forge their 10th loss of the season.
It has not been easy for this young group and it does not get any easier moving forward. The Forge will travel to Stafford on Tuesday night to take on the Indians who were the runner-up in that pre-season district tournament. Mills was quick to point out that he is focused on his own team, and helping them get better every day. “No disrespect to Stafford but like I say, its’ all about us” he said. “What Colonial Forge team will show up, are we going to play aggressive, are we going to play with intensity? Those answers will be answered on Tuesday night over at Stafford High School.