By CHRIS BROOKS, sports editor, Wellsvillesports.com
ATTICA — Before the Championship game of tournament action in Attica got underway Saturday evening, a question was posed. One by Wellsville head coach Tom Muska, to his team.
“What do you want us to be remembered for?” — The team’s reply? Simply, defense.
For many years, the Lions have harped on the ideology behind a defensive mindset. The old saying “Defense wins championships” continues to ring true, as the defending Class B2 Champions used it to their fullest of advantages to take down Attica for the early-season gold.
Right from the gate, the Lions unleashed a tremendous amount of high-pressure defense, and with it, they translated it towards the attack, gaining as big of a lead as 16 at one point during the second quarter to garner all the room they could muster. The end result — a massive 64-39 win over the host Blue Devils to start their title defense with tournament title glory.
The defense wasn’t the only thing that the Lions (2-0) were able to ignite fiercely on the hardwood. During their transition to the offense, their three-point game erupted uncontrollably with 10 triples — five from the hand of Asher Billings, who wound up being the team’s leading scorer at the end of the night, finishing with a game-high 17 points.
Muska says that the two combinations were outstanding to watch unfold.
“I’m defense first, but so are our guys. We just need to play defense the whole game like we have been in the first quarter,” he said. “Asher was huge for us tonight. That kid was in the gym the week after we lost to Newark in the Qualifier last year, and he never left. He and JJ (Howard) worked so hard this past summer, and today it paid off for us. I’m really proud of those two.”
Wellsville wasted no time putting the pedal to the metal early on, as they accounted for a big 14-2 lead of Attica in the opening eight minute frame, led by an equal balance of offense to pair with their near shutout effort on defense. Although the Blue Devils were able to trim down their deficit in the second quarter, especially in the later stages, the Lions were able to pick up where they left off after halftime reached its conclusion.
After a back-and-forth affair to start the second half, the Lions would go on to put the finishing touches on their victory in the last eight minutes — a 26-12 run, led by Billings from downtown, and an overwhelming presence underneath the basket from Logan Dunbar, who had nine of his 15 points come from within that time span.
Cody Costello was the last Wellsville scorer to eclipse double digits, as he furthered the team’s cause with 12 points of his own. Adding help were Aidan Riley and JJ Howard, as they both tallied six points.
Up next, the Lions will host the annual IAABO Tournament on their home floor, as they prepare for an opening round matchup against C.G. Finney, beginning on Friday in a 7:30 p.m. tip-off. Prior to, Fillmore and Cuba-Rushford will kick off the festivities with their first round battle starting promptly at 6 p.m.
Wellsville 14 9 15 26 – 64
Attica 2 12 13 12 – 39
WELLSVILLE: Cody Costello 5 0-0 12, Aidan Riley 3 0-0 6, Cooper Brockway 1 0-0 3, Asher Billings 5 2-2 17, Ty Vogel 2 0-0 5, Logan Dunbar 4 6-8 15, JJ Howard 3 0-1 6. Totals: 23 8-11 64.
ATTICA: Simon Lamparelli 0 1-2 1, Noah Wheeler 2 1-3 5, Cole Harding 5 3-4 16, Ethan Meyer 1 0-0 2, Jack Janes 4 0-0 10, Jordan Anderson 0 1-2 1, Ethan Harmon 2 0-0 4. Totals: 14 6-11 39.
3-point goals: Wellsville 10 (Billings 5, Costello 2, Brockway, Vogel, Dunbar), Attica 5 (Harding 3, Janes 2).
Total Fouls: Wellsville 16, Attica 12. Fouled out: Dunbar (WLSV).