By CHRIS BROOKS, sports editor, wellsvillesports.com
SCIO — Tis the season for Christmas Tournament action once again in Scio, as four more teams gathered to battle for top holiday honors, this time on the boys side of the pendulum on Wednesday.
To lead off the return, the Rebels of Cuba-Rushford aimed to pick up where they left off with their hot start to the season, while Genesee Valley/Belfast was taking aim at a bounce back into the win column.
It was a spar that saw Genesee Valley/Belfast assume control from the beginning, and later on down the stretch in the second half. But when the final eight minutes arrived, the table was run.
The Rebels erupted.
Trailing by seven going into the fourth quarter, it was a frame that Cuba-Rushford was able to take complete advantage of on both ends of the floor, holding Genesee Valley to just four points while the offense fed off the stalwart performance in transition, as they accounted for a game-changing run that helped them claim a spot in Thursday’s Championship game in their 51-38 come-from-behind victory.
An even balanced attack from both teams started out the opening round battle, with Genesee Valley/Belfast (4-4) garnering the early lead. They would hold onto to it ever since, despite some added pressure along the way from Cuba-Rushford, including a spurt in the third quarter to start the second half on a high note — a 13-6 jaunt that helped extend their lead to seven after a 21-21 tie at the break.
But in the last eight minute session, the tables were turned.
The Rebels (6-1) would score massive contributions from all over the floor to fuel their offense. An attack that saw four humongous three-pointers, two from the hand of Braeden Wight, that helped kickstart a come-from-behind triumph to claim their spot in the title game. On defense, it was their strongest stint of the night, holding Genesee Valley/Belfast strong to just a single shot from the field and two free throws to secure the win for good.
Along with Wight, Jacob Smith was the leading scorer on the floor for Cuba-Rushford, recording a game-high 18 points. Wight would follow behind with his 11 points, while Jack Frank chipped in with six.
For Genesee Valley/Belfast, Jacob Borden paced the attack with 14 team-high points. Ian McKenzie had 12.
To end the night, a performance like any other. Maybe even the best that Brenden Loucks has ever put on in his career.
The Friendship/Scio senior dominated the paint all night long against Archbishop Walsh, as he helped navigate his team through some slow beginnings to kick off the night, garnering a season-high 36 points to pair with 12 rebounds to complete a massive and incredible double-double performance in the team’s 56-45 win over the visiting Eagles to claim the final spot in Thursday’s Championship game.
“Brenden had 36 points, and he did a heck of a job after starting off slow tonight,” Friendship/Scio co-coach Dillon McFall said. “He had a couple of inside misses early, but he was able to turn it around pretty quick in the second quarter, and in the fourth to finish it off. We knew we could exploit them inside, and he did a great job capitalizing on it. It was nice to see him have a game like this to keep fueling his nice start this season.”
Friendship/Scio (2-5) battled with Archbishop Walsh through the opening eight minute frame to begin the night, with the hosts in white taking the narrow two-point edge. Later on, the lead was extended upon with a strong finish to the first half on both ends of the floor, as they accounted for a 14-6 run that wound up being one of the biggest difference makers on the floor, led by Loucks and his ignition on offense.
In the second half, both teams would trade even exchanges on offense, which would allow Friendship/Scio to maintain their double digit lead on the Eagles once and for all to claim victory at the end of the night.
“I thought defensively, we did a really good job in the first half and going into the next,” McFall said. “But we started to get away from what Walsh was going to do, and they ended up getting close with the (Luca) Quinn kid. They had quite a few open looks, but on the positive note, we’ve been playing a lot better the last three games. The effort we put in, we deserved this game.”
Finishing behind Loucks was Ethan Davenport, who had 11 points to go with five rebounds and five steals. Taylor Moore chipped in with six points of his own.
Tonight marks the conclusion of Christmas Tournament festivities right back in Scio, with the Consolation game between Genesee Valley/Belfast and Archbishop Walsh kicking off at 6 p.m, while this year’s Championship game between Cuba-Rushford and Friendship/Scio will round off the evening with a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.
Cuba-Rushford 12 9 6 24 – 51
Genesee Valley/Belfast 16 5 13 4 – 38
CUBA-RUSHFORD: Braeden Wight 4 0-0 11, Jacob Smith 6 3-3 18, Kaden Bell 2 0-0 5, Luke Brooks 1 0-2 2, Jack Frank 3 0-0 6, Dom Bello 1 0-0 2, Finn Ricketts 2 0-0 4, Peyton Joy 1 1-2 3. Totals: 20 4-7 51.
GV/BELFAST: Kadin Logue 3 1-1 8, Ian McKenzie 5 0-0 12, Max Wedge 2 0-0 4, Jacob Borden 6 2-4 14. Totals: 16 3-5 38.
3-point goals: C-R 7 (Wight 3, Smith 3, Bell), GVB 3 (McKenzie 2, Logue).
Total Fouls: C-R 6, GVB 7. Fouled out: None.
Archbishop Walsh 9 6 13 17 – 45
Friendship/Scio 11 14 14 17 – 56
WALSH: Kellen Brady 7 0-1 14, Luca Quinn 9 0-0 22, Kai Przybyla 3 0-0 7, Michael Saxton 1 0-0 2. Totals: 20 0-1 45.
FRIENDSHIP/SCIO: Brenden Loucks 17 2-5 36, Taylor Moore 2 0-3 6, Ethan Davenport 4 3-5 11, Cooper Greenman 1 0-0 3. Totals: 24 5-13 56.
3-point goals: AW 5 (Quinn 4, Przybyla), F/S 3 (Moore 2, Davenport).
Total Fouls: AW 13, F/S 10. Fouled out: Przybyla (AW).