There are a lot of great things in this world.
Sunsets, ice cream and '80s music among them.
Hopewell-Loudon's Weston Hill has an addition to the list: Winning a basketball game on your rival's home court.
Chieftains pumped after getting
MAL road victory over Senecas
PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO
Calvert’s Drew Ritzler shoots over Hopewell-Loudon’s Ryan Lommerse. H-L’s Gauge Sadler also defends.
"It's always great. There's nothing better," Hill said shortly after his Chieftains ran off Calvert's court victorious.
"This is great. I told the kids, I've been whining to the coaches for two weeks this would be a completely different Calvert team," Hopewell-Loudon coach Adam Smith said, referencing his team's 29-point non-league win over Calvert last month. "They've improved. It's on their home floor. Any win at Calvert is a good win."
Making the win even sweeter was the thrilling way Hopewell-Loudon pulled out the 52-48 victory.
A 12-point third quarter Chieftain lead evaporated when Calvert's Drew Ritzler knocked down a 3-pointer with 5:23 left in the fourth quarter.
A few minutes later, Calvert got a driving layup from Michael Bennett for a 46-43 lead with 2:03 to play.
Everything was seemingly going Calvert's way. Then just as quickly, the Senecas lost control.
"I didn't see us get rattled. I was probably more rattled then they were," Smith admitted. "We had a finger roll over the front of the rim to go up 14 in the third, missed it. Then they come down and scored to cut it to 10. But nobody ever got rattled. Even that possession down three, how patient we were with the ball. That was a credit to our kids for keeping our composure."
The same couldn't be said for Calvert. After a nearly minute-long Chieftain possession, Calvert was called for a loose-ball foul, which was followed up by a Calvert technical.
Ryan Lommerse knocked down both foul shots bringing his team within one while still holding possession. Lommerse drove to the hoop but his shot rattled out. Gauge Sadler grabbed the offensive rebound; his put back was no good. Hill grabbed a second offensive rebound. His put-back went in, with a foul to boot.
"I think it all came down to hustling, basically," Hill said. "We both hustled, and threw it up there and hoped for the best. Just going after everything, working hard."
After Hill sunk his free throw, the three-point deficit turned into a two-point lead in a span of 16.5 seconds.
"That was big," Smith said of the entire five-point possession. "I actually panicked; I thought the technical was on us and was relieved to find out it was on them. We stepped up and hit some big free throws tonight.
"We executed, we got the look we wanted. We got Lommerse driving right down there on the left side. And he made a great move and it just came off the front of the rim. It helps to have big double-zero in there crashing the boards."
"The lack of mental focus the last three-and-a-half minutes of the game. That was the difference," Calvert coach Ted Willman said. "It wasn't anything physical. It was purely mental errors, from a standpoint where we were just not focusing on what we needed to do down the stretch.
"Those are mental things that in games like this, any game, we're not good enough to let something like that happen, especially when you're managing the game, to let mental errors come into play. If it's a physical thing, you turn the ball over, you're hustling and trying to make a play, that's one thing. But, you can't let mentally, you can't shoot yourself in the foot on mental errors."
Calvert had a chance to tie, but a jumper feel short and Lommerse snared the rebound. The Chieftain junior said the defensive focus was to keep any Seneca from getting a good look.
"All of them, they're all good shooters, their guards," he said. "Bennett, (Austin) Ball and Ritzler. Just not letting them get an open shot."
It was Lommerse who helped stake Hopewell-Loudon to its early lead, scoring 18 in the first half. He finished the night with game-highs in points (26) and rebounds (9).
For him, it wasn't a big night. Rather, a little night.
"We worked hard on the little things all week. We came out and used them and it paid off," he said. "I was working on the little things that we did in practice, and using them and it got me open shots."
"Ryan can be as good as Ryan wants to be," Smith added. "He had some flashes tonight where, when he gets an angle on somebody, he's going to get to the rim. He's quick enough; he's skilled enough in trying to create some angles where he can get there. I thought he attacked the hoop really well. Then he stepped out and hit a couple 3s early that were big too."
Hopewell-Loudon led 27-22 at the break, and worked it to a 36-24 advantage midway through the third as Sadler picked up the scoring load with eight in the quarter.
Calvert began to come back behind Bennett. After sitting out a good portion of the first half with foul trouble and scoring only four points, he made up for lost time with 12 in the third to trim the deficit to four to start the fourth.
"He knocked some shots and we looked to attack," Willman said. "I thought we were too passive in the first half and didn't attack enough. ... We had some looks, guys had knocked some shots down, but we were still too passive. That quarter, we came out there and started attacking a little bit more and kind of got us back in the game. Then it seemed like after offensively we made some shots, we were little bit quicker defensively. Then it's just those mental errors."
Hopewell-Loudon improves to 8-7, 5-1 Midland Athletic League with the win. Calvert drops to 4-9, 3-3.