NEWPORT–A slow start against the CVU Red Hawks spelled doom for the North Country boys basketball team on Wednesday, as they fell to Champlain Valley 44-41.
"This is two games in a row where we failed to deny three point shooters shots," explained coach Bonvechio, "Last time in Essex we gave their big guy four threes in the first quarter and today we gave up five of those in the first half without getting a hand out on them."
In the first quarter CVU utilized their long range attack to jump out to the early lead. Tucker Kohlasch opened up the game with a long three, followed by a Brad Bissonette lay-up.
Caleb Prue got the home town boys on the board, but Bissonette came right back with another Champlain Valley three.
Jason Hatin went one for two, and then after stopping the Red Hawk attack, Prue charged back down the court to get the basket and one.
That would be it for North Country in the first as CVU hit for seven more points to close out the quarter with a 15-6 lead.
Nothing would drop for the Falcons in the first, but that would change moving forward.
In the second, CVU made it ten straight points on a Bissonette trey before Taylor Prue made both of his free throws to stop the bleeding.
Bissonette struck from downtown again, the third of his four three pointers on the night, then the Falcons got rolling.
Tyler Jenne and Hatin each hit for two, and after CVU scored its' last points of the half, Taylor Prue laid in his third/fourth points of the second, followed by two more from Hatin off of a nice steal by Devon Martin.
Martin, one of the captains of the Falcons, was very vocal on the court Monday, making sure the lines of communication were wide open.
"I try to get everybody talking on the floor, because when you are talking it is kind of intimidating, and I was trying to help my teammates out as best I can," he said after the game.
After the first eight minutes it looked to be a blow out. After sixteen minutes, it looked like North Country was going to make a game of it as the Falcons trailed by seven, 23-16 heading into the break.
The third, as did all the quarters, opened with points from the Red Hawks. Jenne answered with a pair from the charity stripe. Bissonette fired home his final three of the night, and then Martin found his shooting rhythm. He drove to the basket for two, then hit a nice three.
CVU went on seven point run, but North Country answered with seven straight of their own, fueled by a Tyler Paxman three, and two from Hatin and Jacob Buckles.
Paxman would end the quarter with a big block on a CVU jump shot attempt, and heading into the final eight, the Falcons had cut the lead down to just five.
While the Red Hawks continued to score points, the rate at which they were doing so had slowed dramatically. NCU was forcing CVU to pass the ball an average of eleven times per possession, usually more, before they could find a shot they liked.
"We switched into a 3/2 zone and it looked like CVU couldn't really handle it," said Caleb Prue, "We were getting pressure on the ball and blocking passes in the middle which is a big thing."
"The looks they got were more contested, we were running at people a little quicker," said Bonvechio, "When I put guys out on the wing that are pretty quick, Tyler Jenne, Tyler Paxman, Devon, they get out to the corner a little quicker than maybe some of the guys who were being straight out defenders, so that let us slow down their attack."
The two teams traded buckets in the fourth, and with time winding down Caleb Prue's three followed by Hatin's lay-up cut the lead to 42-41 with 54 seconds left to play.
That would be as close North Country would get this night as John Keen made both of his free throws to salt the game away.
Despite the loss, North Country can take a lot out of this game as it showed their dedication to their philosophy of being defensive-minded physically and mentally tough team.
"We were down by eight with just a few minutes left, then we got it down to three, and we could have easily sent it into overtime and won the game," said Martin, "I am proud of the team for never giving up and it doesn't matter (what the score is) we always play until last buzzer and I am really happy about that."
Said Bonvechio, "We didn't quit and we kept fighting back. We had a chance to tie the game late with a three and we couldn't get it, but we kept fighting, we kept scrapping, and we've talked about nights where you don't shoot well, if you play good defensively, it will allow you to stay in the ball game and that is what happened tonight."
Hatin led North Country in scoring with eleven, followed by ten from Caleb Prue and nine from Martin.
The team will be back at the Falcon gym Friday night when they play host to Colchester at 6:30.