Senecas upset No. 1 Flyers
By Mark Hazelwood
Reflector Sports Editor
NORWALK — Sometimes, the other team is just better.
Calvert made a few more defensive stops and more critical rebounds than host St. Paul on Saturday. It was enough for the Senecas to break a tie going into the fourth quarter for a 60-51 win inside Harvey Keller Gymnasium at the convocation center in Norwalk.
The loss is the first of the season for the Flyers (9-1), who last Monday debuted at No. 1 in the first Associated Press poll of the season in Division IV. The Senecas improved to 8-2.
“It was a great defensive battle. Both teams battled back and forth, and on offense and defense each team knew what the other was running,” Calvert head coach Jon Otterbacher said.
Tied at 44 entering the final eight minutes, the game swung toward the Senecas. Nolan Beeker opened with a basket at the 7:06 mark for a 46-44 lead following a St. Paul turnover. The Flyers then turned the ball over again, and Calvert’s Nick Seifert was fouled at the other end.
Seifert made the first foul shot, but missed the second. However, the Senecas’ Jack Shultz was there for the offensive rebound and putback basket for a 49-44 lead with 6:28 left.
“To be able to get that lead, you never want to miss free throws, but the miss and offensive putback was huge,” Otterbacher said. “It allowed us to have that two-possession lead and kind of dictate what was going to happen the rest of the time.”
That proved true down the stretch, as the Flyers never got closer than three points the rest of the way. The last one-possession margin came with 56 seconds left when Nick Winslow made two free throws to make it 54-51.
But with St. Paul forced to foul, the Senecas put the game away at the line. Seifert made both attempts when he was fouled before the ball was inbounded, keeping the clock at 56 seconds. That put Calvert up 56-51.
Then, around a pair of misses from deep by the Flyers, it was Calvert’s Garrett Spaun sinking four straight free throws for the final margin of victory.
“I think first of all you have to give credit to Calvert,” St. Paul coach Mike Smith said. “They have a very good team, and they did a nice job of slowing us down in transition with their 1-2-2 zone — so we couldn’t push.
“They did a nice job also of keeping us out of the lane. They were more physical than us, and I thought they rebounded better than us,” he added.
The Senecas jumped out to early 9-3 and 12-5 leads in the first quarter, but the game went back-and-forth for the better part of three-plus quarters.
In the first half, junior twin siblings Nick and Nate Winslow kept the Flyers in the game.
Trailing 14-6 in the closing seconds of the first quarter, Nick launched a 3-pointer from about 35 feet that went in.
He was just warming up.
In the second quarter, Nick connected on five consecutive 3-pointers he attempted, the last also coming at the halftime buzzer with a hand in his face to give the Flyers a 31-29 lead at the break.
He added two more threes in the third quarter to finish with eight, one shy of the program record he set earlier this season at New London.
All told, Nick and Nate Winslow scored the first 37 points of the game for the Flyers, until a Brandon Furlong basket gave St. Paul a 39-37 lead with just over four minutes left in the third quarter.
But the Senecas adjusted, limiting both Winslow’s to just one basket from the field in the fourth quarter.
“Those twin brothers are dynamic,” Otterbacher said. “They play great together and they feed off each other. Our job was to try and know where everyone was. Nick hit a bunch of tough threes and played great, and we weren’t ready for his scoring.
“We knew Furlong was a great shooter and wanted to take that away from him,” he added. “And we wanted to make sure we played within our system, played hard and denied tough shots down the stretch.”
For Calvert, Spaun had 19 points and eight rebounds, with Seifert scoring 18 points and Blake Ronski connecting on three 3s for nine points.
“They just outplayed us,” Smith said of Calvert. “They were more physical, and I just thought they really crashed the glass hard. We couldn’t rebound and get out and push the ball. Our transition game was very limited tonight, and it’s because of what they did. They were a very well-prepared, good team.”
Nick Winslow finished with 31 points and five rebounds on 10-of-19 shooting, while Nate added 14 points and five rebounds on 6-of-14 shooting. But the remaining four players for St. Paul who logged minutes combined for just six points.
It was a big week for Calvert, scoring a win over Div. II Clyde (4-3) on Wednesday and beating the previously unbeaten Flyers on the road Saturday. The Senecas host New Riegel (2-8, 2-5) Tuesday in an SBC River Division matchup.
“It was a decent week for us,” Otterbacher said. “We enjoy those challenges set before us. We like to play the tougher, bigger and prideful schools — to show what we can do. We enjoy the friendly competition and get after it.”