BATH - Pacey Hopkins drilled a 3-pointer with under a minute left to propel Avoca to a 56-50 victory over Prattsburgh in the far west regional qualifier Wednesday in Bath.
Avoca’s head coach Mike Stowe earned his first sectional title in his five-year tenure as head coach in his third appearance in the finals.
With the Tigers up 51-46 with 2:26 to go, Prattsburgh responded with two consecutive buckets from Kris Johnson and Ammon Anderson to cut the deficit to just one point with 1:15 to go.
That’s when the sophomore Hopkins canned a triple that put the Tigers up 54-50.
“We were working down the clock a little bit, we wanted to limit how many touches Mason [Putnam] would get down the stretch,” said Stowe. “We worked the ball around the perimeter, the ball was sung to Pacey and he hit a huge clutch shot.”
Avoca forced Vikings turnovers on the next two possessions and Jonathan Jensen connected on two clutch free-throws to put the game away.
With the win, the Tigers clinched their fourth regional appearance in program history.
Mason Putnam netted 23 points for Prattsburgh including 16 points in the third quarter to cut a 11-point Tiger lead at halftime to just two points at the end of the third quarter.
With a triple in the third quarter, Putnam passed 2,500 points in his illustrious career.
The Tiger defense limited Putnam to just two points in the final frame.
“You can’t hold down a player like Mason,” said Stowe. “He’s probably, in my opinion, one of the best players to come out of Steuben County. We threw everything at him but the kitchen sink. We [layed man, tried to pinch the middle and just tried to get the ball out of his hands”
Tristian Stark scored 11 of his team-high 23 points for the Tigers in the first half to help Avoca build a 33-22 advantage.
Jensen added 13 points, Hopkins contributed 11 points and Devin Stowe chipped in seven points.
“Any given night, someone steps up,” Stowe said. “Brady [Brandow’s] shots weren’t falling and we had some guys feeling under the weather, so other guys stepped up. Tristian had an amazing game inside.”
Avoca will advance to the Far West Regional game at noon on Saturday against Section VI’s Sherman who sports a 15-9 record. Stowe knows that records can be deceiving.
“You get to this stage of the game, everyone is tough,” said Stowe. They play in a tough region. It’s one game and advance at this point. We’re doing some homework and we’ll be ready by Saturday.“