Majka, Adams Combine For 27 As T’Birds Prevail Late
The focus entering Tuesday night’s CCAA Division 1 West game at Southwestern was Chautauqua Lake’s Devin Pope and his pursuit of 2,000 career points.
By the end of the night, the rest of the Thunderbirds showed that Class C teams in Section VI better not forget about them.
Pope scored just below his average with 28 points, but junior Kyler Majka added 16 points and sophomore Nate Adams chipped in 11 as the Thunderbirds pulled out a nail-biting 70-68 victory over the Trojans.
“We needed a game like this. We’ve had a lot of adversity lately,” Chautauqua Lake coach Mike Putney said. ” … We got big play from Alex Gleason and Zach Fischer … key buckets at key times. They played very poised, which is what we needed.”
Chautauqua Lake led for most of the night before Southwestern clawed all the way back, eventually tying the game at 65-all on sophomore Mitchell Pascarella’s third 3-pointer of the game with 1:25 remaining.
Pope immediately took the ball to the hoop and was fouled 10 seconds later, making 1-of-2 free throws to give the lead back to the Thunderbirds.
Two possessions later, the Trojans attempted to inbound the ball on their own baseline, but were called for a 5-second violation.
“We had a couple of costly mistakes down the stretch with a loud gym trying to get a timeout on the out-of-bounds play,” said Southwestern assistant coach Matt Seiberg, who was filling in for head coach Aaron Emley. “Those are things that we can learn from.”
Pope then hit a pair of free throws with 17 seconds remaining. Southwestern junior Alex Card then missed a straightaway 3-pointer that would have tied the game with less than 10 seconds left before Majka sealed the win at the foul line.
“He has that team goal. We want the win. I just told him to keep playing. I thought he was very composed,” Putney said of Pope. “He missed a couple free throws, but he made the important ones when we needed him to.”
Card led the Trojans with 23 points to go along with two steals while Pascarella added 15 points.
Pope had 5 points in the opening quarter and the Thunderbirds led 16-15 after eight minutes on Bryan Anderson’s free throw with no time showing on the clock. Chautauqua Lake’s senior star heated up in the second quarter, scoring the first 5 points of the period and adding 7 more later to give the defending sectional champions a 36-27 lead at the break.
“That second quarter really just came back to bite us,” Seiberg said. “When you go down nine at half against a team like this, it’s tough to get out of that when you are in foul trouble.”
By that point, Pope had already eclipsed the 16 points he scored during the teams’ first meeting back on Jan. 17 in Mayville.
“When they get going and Pope gets hot early, they can be tough,” Seiberg added. “At the same time, once we had him slowed down they hit big shots with the rest of their players. It’s not just him.”
Pope scored all four of his third-quarter points on free throws before Majka’s runner in the lane kept the Thunderbirds’ lead at seven heading into the final eight minutes.
Trojans sophomore Cooper Pannes fouled out with 3:36 left in the game and his team trailing by eight, but Southwestern went on an 8-1 run that included a Pascarella 3-pointer and was capped by Tony Vezina’s banked 3-pointer with 2:28 remaining to pull his team within a point.
“I like how we played and didn’t give up. We got in a hole early due to foul trouble. We were already short-handed, so that hurt,” Seiberg said. ” … We started to find some offense in the second half.”
Three possessions later, Pope scored a bucket in traffic to make it a three-point game with 1:50 left before Pascarella’s clutch 3-pointer.
“I thought we played a really good first half on defense,” Putney said. “Hats off to Southwestern, they hit some big shots out there to close that gap.”
Pope will take his 1,978 career points into the Thunderbirds’ next game, which figures to be a Section VI Class C prequarterfinal in Mayville next Tuesday or Wednesday.
“Our goal is to play team ball and get the win … absolutely it would be awesome,” Putney said about Pope possibly reaching the milestone at home. “Everything he gets I love, because he’s put the time in with this program. … In order for us to do well, he has to play well.”
NOTES: Pope finished with seven steals, five rebounds and four assists; Anderson had seven rebounds; Majka had four steals and three assists; and Adams grabbed six rebounds for Chautauqua Lake. … Pannes led Southwestern with 10 rebounds and Derek Miller grabbed six. … The Trojans won the jayvee game, 61-46, behind 19 points from Aidan Kennedy, 15 from Brady Fye and 10 from Dominic Certo. Noah Adams led the Thunderbirds with 16, Luke Waters had 15 and Nate Engdahl had 10.
CHAUTAUQUA LAKE (70)
Gleason 2 0 6, Anderson 1 1 3, Fischer 3 0 6, Putney 0 0 0, Majka 6 2 16, Wood 0 0 0, Adams 3 5 11, Pope 7 11 28. Totals 22 19 70.
Heil 1 0 3, Card 9 3 23, Miller 1 0 2, Pascarella 5 2 15, Vezina 2 0 5, Munir 3 0 8, Hnatyszyn 3 0 6, Pannes 3 0 6. Totals 27 5 68.
3-point goals–Gleason 2, Majka 2, Pope 3, Heil, Card 2, Pascarella 3, Vezina, Munir 2.
Chautauqua Lake 16 20 15 19 — 70
Southwestern 15 12 17 24 — 68
Jayvees: Southwestern won, 61-46.