By JOHN ANDERSON
Going into Saturday’s rematch with Canisteo-Greenwood, Wellsville’s Aidan Riley had only attempted a couple 3-pointers and had not made one. It is very common to see a zero next to Riley’s name in the scorebook despite playing the most minutes as he’s a defensive specialist.
On Saturday, Wellsville coach Raymie Auman decided to draw up offensive plays for Riley with the Lions trailing in the fourth quarter. Riley made two layups, but saved his best for last.
With 57 seconds left, Riley calmly drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Wellsville a 55-53 lead. After a Cooper Brockway free throw, the Lions led 56-53. When two last-second three-point attempts missed, Wellsville escaped Canisteo with the three-point win.
Wellsville (5-4) trailed by 12 at the half and most of the third quarter. The Lions outscored C-G, 36-23 in the second half.
Riley, a junior, finished with seven points (all in the fourth quarter), six rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Meanwhile, Kailob Phelps came off the bench and provided the defensive spark Wellsville needed as several players were in foul trouble. Phelps, a center, had two big steals and then with guards in foul trouble, he rotated on defense to prevent the sharp-shooters from C-G from getting good looks.
“I was in a good spot to play defense, but really, it was the whole team guarding everyone,” Phelps said. “When the rest of the team is playing such good defense it allows me to get steals.”
Wellsville lost to Canisteo Greenwood, 45-44 in the final seconds just six days ago (See story and video here). Phelps said Wellsville came out with more energy.
Riley, who took advantage of the defense playing off of him to score the layups, now had the defense concerned about a drive. As a result, he hit the 3-pointer.
“We played with more emotions today, it seemed like everyone was ready to play,” Phelps said.
“For my first layup, coach drew me up a play and it worked really well. They started sagging off on me so I took advantage of it, went to the basket and scored,” Riley said. “On the three pointer, they left me open, and I took advantage of it and shot it.”
A time out was called and Riley was able to take in the moment.
“We got all of our energy back, the crowd went crazy, our bench went crazy. We got a lot of stops after that and won the game,” Riley said. “I really enjoy playing defense. It’s very fun to get a steal or a block and hear the crowd get wild.”
Senior guard Eli Schmidt scored a game-high 21 points before fouling out for the second game in a row. Schmidt was also impressed with the focus despite being down 12 at the half.
“After halftime, we all locked in on defense and decided to come together, make stops, scores and we got the win,” Schmidt said. “We had just lost to them, we were down big and we wanted to win.”
Wellsville’s Logan Dunbar was held to two points in the first half, and despite playing with four fouls, mixed in his inside and outside game to score 12 points, including a big three-pointer during the third quarter comeback. He also had 10 rebounds.
Guard Cody Costello had 10 points and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line when the game was tight in the second half. Costello handed out four assists and had two steals. Alex Perkins shook off a knee injury to come back in during the fourth quarter and tied the game with two clutch free throws. Brockway, who made the big free throw with 14.9 seconds left, finished with four points and three assists.
Wellsville hosts Hornell Friday night.
For Canisteo-Greenwood, Hunter McCaffrey fouled out in the last minute, but had another strong game, finishing with 18. Mason Boyd, whose baseline jumper gave Canisteo-Greenwood a 52-51 lead with just over a minute left, had 11 points while Cole Ferris had 13, Evan Updyke six and Maddux Schwartz had five.