Red Raiders’ Fourth-Quarter Rally Stuns Spartans

Jamestown’s Marcus Rojas finds a lane to the basket during Saturday afternoon’s ECIC Division 1 basketball game against Williamsville North at McElrath Gymnasium.
P-J photo by Valory S. Isaacson

Jamestown’s Marcus Rojas finds a lane to the basket during Saturday afternoon’s ECIC Division 1 basketball game against Williamsville North at McElrath Gymnasium. P-J photo by Valory S. Isaacson

Shaheem Freeney spent much of Saturday afternoon’s Erie County Interscholastic Conference Division 1 basketball game glued to the bench with foul trouble.

Fortunately for the Jamestown Red Raiders, the 6-foot-5 junior saved his best for last.

Freeney scored two buckets and drew a charge to spark a decisive fourth-quarter surge that lifted Jamestown to a 51-48 Erie County Interscholastic Conference Division 1 victory over Williamsville North at McElrath Gymnasium.

The much-needed win — the Red Raiders had lost two straight and five of their last seven– improved their record to 10-7 overall and 6-3 in the division. The Spartans, who were held to just three points in the final 6¢ minutes, fell to 8-6 and 4-4.

“That was a huge win for us,” Jamestown coach Ben Drake said. “I’m just so proud of our guys and how they stuck with it and the intensity we played with for the entire game, especially in the second half to stay in it when they had all the momentum coming out of halftime.”

Jamestown’s Henry Malarkey (22) makes a pass over the head of Williamsville North’s Jacob Belote during Saturday’s ECIC Division 1 basketball game at McElrath Gymnasium.
P-J photo by Valory S. Isaacson

Jamestown’s Henry Malarkey (22) makes a pass over the head of Williamsville North’s Jacob Belote during Saturday’s ECIC Division 1 basketball game at McElrath Gymnasium. P-J photo by Valory S. Isaacson

Trailing 45-38 with 6:24 remaining, Jamestown began its rally with a post move and a free throw by Marcus Rojas to close within four, 45-41. Scott Becht responded with a bucket to push Williamsville North’s lead back to six, 47-41, with 4:52 left, but it would turn out to be the Spartans’ last field goal of the game.

Shortly after Becht’s deuce, Freeney re-entered and promptly scored on a putback and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but teammate Matt Hill grabbed the rebound and scored, cutting the deficit to 47-45.

Freeney wasn’t done making big plays, though.

His layup with 3:11 remaining tied the game for only the second time, Hill nailed a pull-up jumper less than a half-minute later to give the Red Raiders a 49-47 lead and then Freeney drew a charge as a Spartans’ player drove to the basket.

“(Freeney) made some huge plays for us,” Drake said.

With the momentum clearly in its favor, Jamestown had to survive a harried final minute — it only converted two of six free throws — but Williamsville North was unable to capitalize and the Red Raiders ended the game with an all-out hustle play by Marcus Rojas and Henry Malarkey to preserve the win.

With Jamestown leading, 50-48, with 7.9 seconds remaining, Freeney was fouled, but he missed both attempts. On the second miss, Marcus Rojas battled for the rebound and threw it out to Malarkey, who successfully made a diving effort to keep the ball from going out of bounds. The ball ultimately ended up in the hands of Elijah Rojas, who was immediately fouled with 0.4 seconds left. He made one of two free throws to put the game away.

“Those are ‘senior plays,'” Drake said. “Those guys have been involved in some big games and some battles. I kind of laid that challenge down before the game. I knew our seniors would come to play, but the question is are our younger guys going to be ready to go to war today. … We just wanted it more then they did during that last possession. That’s toughness personified.”

Marcus Rojas led Jamestown with 23 points and seven rebounds, Hill had 13 points five boards, three assists and two steals, and Elijah Rojas added 9 points.

Breht Swiech paced Williamsville North with 15 points and Ryan Jonston chipped with 12.

Ironically, the Spartans appeared to have all the momentum when they ended the first half on an 18-0 run that transformed a 21-12 deficit into a 30-21 lead. The margin grew to 10 points in the third period, but Jamestown stayed within striking distance to trail, 38-32, after three quarters, setting the stage for its comeback in the final eight minutes.

“We had to hold them under 20 points in the second half to have a chance to win,” Drake said. “We gave up 18 and won by three. We met that. We played our hearts out for 16 minutes at the defensive end.”

NOTES: The Red Raiders return to action Tuesday when they travel to Lancaster. … In the junior varsity game, Jamestown raised its record to 7-9 following a 58-23 victory over Williamsville North. Travon Blakeslee had 12 points and 11 rebounds, and teammate Jordan Crofoot chipped in with 11 points.

WILLIAMSVILLE NORTH (48)

Johnston 4 3 12, Mann 0 0 0, Belote 0 3 3, Terry 1 0 2, Swiech 5 3 15, Konotopskyj 2 3 7, Abaya 0 1 1, Orlando 0 0 0, Becht 3 2 8, Hopkins 0 0 0, Totals 15 15 48.

JAMESTOWN (51)

Hill 5 0 13, ERojas 2 4 9, MRojas 9 5 23, Garland 0 0 0, Grant 0 0 0, Faulkner 0 0 0, Malarkey 0 0 0, Freeney 2 2 6, Totals 18 11 51.

3-point goals–Johnston, Swiech 2, Hill 3, ERojas.

Williamsville North 10 20 8 10 — 48

Jamestown 16 5 11 19 — 51

Jayvees: Jamestown 58, Williamsville North 23.

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