NEWPORT–It has been a long time coming for the North Country boys basketball team. Victories were few and far between last season for the Falcons, and on Tuesday night the boys shed the weight of last year with a 70-65 win in their season opener against Lyndon Institute.
"It was nice to get a win this early in the season," said Coach Brian Bonvechio.
The Falcons used their long range attack along with a twenty-eight point performance from Caleb Prue, and nineteen from Clint Provoncha to topple their foes from down south.
"We are going to have nights where those two guys are going to really, really shine," said the coach.
But as good as these two were on Tuesday, Bonvechio can see other players having big nights like this in the future.
"It wouldn't surprise me if when we go to Missisiquoi Friday night where Paxman has twenty points and Colton White has seventeen. We have enough guys who are capable of scoring that you are going to see a different leading scorer many many times."
Right off the bat you knew that Prue was going to have a good night on the hard court. The junior knocked down four three pointers along with a two and free throw for fifteen of the team's twenty-two first quarter points.
"We all shot well in the first half. We kept moving and spread the floor. We were hitting all out shots. We were a little shaky on D in the first half, but all in all we did pretty good," said Prue.
However it was the Vikings, led by Mason Lantzs' 11 points, who came out of the opening eight minutes with the lead.
The two teams traded threes to start the contest, but LI would go on an 8-0 run to take control. NCU would fight back with a 7-0 run to close out the quarter with the score 23-22.
In the second quarter the Falcons defense played the best the quarter of the game. They pressed and pressured the Vikings into multiple turnovers, allowing eleven points in the quarter.
"We started to get our press going in the second quarter and we started to dominate for a while," said Bonvechio.
On offense the Falcons would take the lead early fueled by an 8 point run run. Devon Martin was instrumental for NCU at this stage of the game, scoring his first points of the season (two 2's and a 3) as well as leading by example with his hard work and increased physical presence.
The physicality was something that the coach had addressed in the pre-season
"We had talked to Devon before about not being afraid to be hit, because you can finish and get to the free throw line, so we have been tougher that way and it has been a big step up for him,"
The Falcon closed the half with an 8-2 flurry and took a 41-34 into the half.
The third quarter was a revitalizing one for the Vikings, but the Falcons matched LI's 14 point effort and it was still a thirteen point differential (55-48) going into the fourth.
It seemed like every time Lyndon scored Clint Provoncha was there to answer, and the start of the final quarter was no different.
Lantz opened the scoring with a two, but Clint was johnny on the spot answering with a two of his own.
From there Lyndon would whittle the lead down to seven, then five, and then into the final minute as little as three, but in the end both Martin and Prue were clutch with Martin going 2/2 from the line and Prue going 2/3 to seal the 70-65 victory.
"I think we really pulled it together at the end, we came out flat footed in the beginning, but we hit our free throws and we had patience, so I think that won it for us in the end," said Martin who had sixteen points in the win.
Said Bonvechio with a smile, "I think you saw a mentally tough team at the end of the game take care of things out there, Devon comes up with that huge steal, and we took care of business late."
Next up is indeed Missisquoi, as the team travels to Swanton to face the T-Birds. Tip-off is at