Belfast senior breaks school record
ALFRED – It was clear after Friday’s 75-30 win at Lima Christian, momentum was indeed built for Belfast. Just how big?
“It was very big, and it was great for the team,” said Belfast coach Joe Hennessy. “Everyone last night got a chance to play, and they all had fun doing it. The bus ride home from the game was fun, and coming into today, we had a great team atmosphere to be around.”
Hennessy also said after the win over the Saints, they would need everything they had going into the next game on the slate. A task that could be the tallest the team has had all season so far – Avoca, the state’s top-ranked Class D school.
The Tigers came in at an unbeaten 11-0, scoring at least 70 points in a game seven times. For the Bulldogs, a 1-5 start had suddenly turned into three straight wins.
The foes left it all on the court in the Dan Barkley Showcase at Alfred State on Saturday, with both teams going back-and-forth, responding to one basket after another. But one player found a way to make all the difference.
That being Belfast senior Adam Enders.
In front of a packed Orvis Activities Center crowd, and with the Avoca defense in front of him the whole game, Enders did whatever it took to find the basket, whether it was at the charity stripe, inside, or outside the arc, as he recorded a school-record breaking 54 point evening in the Showcase’s first ever overtime game to knock down Avoca with an 82-77 victory.
“This was a great team win,” said Hennessy. “Even though we had someone score 54 points, it was a great team win. We got the stops when we needed to get stops, and we got buckets when we needed to get buckets. It was the game we fully expected, and we are better than what our record shows. We weren’t going to back down, we were going to take it at them.”
Enders will now stand alone as not only as Belfast’s all-time leading scorer, but as the program’s leader in most points in a game, breaking a record that had stood for 50 years. One that was held by John Covell, who had 52 points in a Bulldogs contest back in 1969.
As to how he did it, Enders said it wouldn’t be possible without his teammates.
“I scored 54, but we as a team scored 82 tonight,” he said. “There was 30 points scored that needed to get scored by other people. The guys put me in spots where I could score, and I did my job, they did theirs.
“It’s nice to know that it will be a record that stays there for a long time," Enders added. "I had a feeling that it would be a school record, I just didn’t know how much it would take. John Covell had it for a long time, that lasted for nearly 50 years. It’s still not our end goal, though.”
On the flip side, Avoca (11-1) was in foul trouble for the majority of the game. When the final buzzer had sounded at the end of overtime, the Tigers were whistled 29 times, with senior star LaDre Stanford fouling out in the waning seconds of regulation. He finished with 15 points.
It was a factor that Tigers head coach Mike Stowe said completely turned the tide.
“It killed the momentum all game long. One kid can get to the free throw line 27, 28 times, and that in itself can be tough to beat. Adam (Enders) is a great player, but we just need to do a better job limiting our fouls that we supposedly committed all game long,” he said. “LaDre leaving at the end of the fourth, and Brady (Brandow) getting hurt on a play, that really changed the momentum of things.”
Enders alone shot 24-of-27 from the line. The fouls would begin to pile up on the Tigers just under halfway to go in the first half, when Belfast started the frame with a pair of back-to-back and-ones from Kevin McCumiskey and Carter Guilford gave them a five-point lead. The Bulldogs would maintain that five-point lead going into the locker room.
Enders made his presence known after recording 25 first-half points, but despite the Bulldogs senior leading the charge for the offense, Avoca kept pace in the second half, scoring six of the final 10 third quarter points to keep within reach.
Avoca started the fourth with five of the first seven points to close the gap to a single basket. The Tigers took the lead after a four-point mini-run from Enders, as Devin Stowe’s three-pointer from downtown gave the Tigers their first lead of the game. The Avoca junior finished with 13 points.
“You go back to the drawing board, and you find the positives in a game like this,” said Stowe. “We see a few other guys step up for those guys when we’re down and out. Devin’s been struggling outside with his shot, and his teammates have rallied behind him. That’s one of the positives that we can take from this, is he broke out of his slump from outside, but Thomas (Derick) came in off the bench to keep us in the game in the fourth to force overtime.”
Enders put Belfast back in front with one minute left to play, but Avoca forced overtime, as Thomas Derick battled against the Bulldogs defense to put away the lay-in with six seconds left. The Tigers had a steal and a chance to win it at the buzzer on a turnover, but a last-second lay-up would not fall.
In overtime, it became another case of the foul trouble for Avoca, as the Bulldogs keyed a 13-8 frame with help at the charity stripe, garnering 11 of the points at that spot to seal the victory.
McCumiskey followed Enders in the Belfast scorebook with 13 points, while Stephen Struckmann had six. Avoca was led by Nathan Nunn, who stepped up to contribute a team-high 25 point effort.
Both teams will return to the floor Tuesday night, with Avoca looking to bounce back in a battle of state-ranked teams as the Tigers pay a visit to Class D’s No. 3, rival Prattsburgh.
“It’s a one game at a time mentality,” said Stowe. “The towns make it a bigger deal than myself and Coach (Brian) Putnam do when this game pops up on the schedule. It’s one game in the ladder of success, and we have to regroup on our one-day turnaround next week.”
Belfast, now back even at 5-5, will go for five straight wins with Cuba-Rushford in town.
“We feel a little better, but we still have a lot of work to do,” said Hennessy. “We have to get right back to work after school on Monday. We knew with the schedule coming up at the beginning of the year, it was going to be rough. We just have to battle through it. Eventually, things were going to shift out the way we wanted.”
Avoca 14 12 19 24 8 – 77
Belfast 13 18 19 19 13 – 82
AVOCA: Pacey Hopkins 1 0-0 2, Brady Brandow 2 0-0 6, LaDre Stanford 5 4-6 15, Nathan Nunn 7 8-11 25, Devin Stowe 5 1-2 13, Thomas Derick 3 0-0 8, Tristian Stark 4 0-0 8. Totals: 17 10-19 77.
BELFAST: Kevin McCumiskey 6 0-0 13, Adam Enders 14 24-28 54, Hunter Enders 1 0-0 3, Alex Enders 0 1-2 1, Carter Guilford 2 1-4 5, Stephen Struckmann 3 0-0 6. Totals: 21 26-34 82.
3-point goals: Avoca 10 (Nunn 3, Stowe 2, Brandow 2, Derick 2, Stanford), Belfast 4 (Ad. Enders 2, McCumiskey, H. Enders). Total Fouls: Avoca 29, Belfast 17. Fouled out: McCumiskey (B), Stanford (A).