North Country Comeback Falls Short Against Essex

NEWPORT–After a high scoring affair that saw St. Johnsbury defeat North Country 101-75 Thursday night, the Falcons were back on the court on Saturday afternoon, taking on the Essex Hornets.Things did not go much better for the hometown team in this one either as they fell 85-67.While they did not get the win, the boys did not shy away from their opponent, showing great fortitude in the second half as they tried to rally back into the game."We have been working on giving it our best effort all the time, and I asked what was the difference in the second half other than that we shot the ball much better," said coach Brian Bonvechio. "We went into a 3-2 zone because we were playing so poorly defensively and that seemed to help. We need to get that kind of play for all thirty-two minutes."Essex got out to 21-15 first quarter lead thanks mainly to their ability to force turnovers and dominate the boards.Tom Carton had the hot hand for the Hornets, scoring ten in the quarter, while Luke Salerno added six.For the Falcons, Tyler Paxman showed some range early, hitting a three as did Matt Duncan.Connor Hogan had an excellent first for NCU, scoring four points and playing a steady brand of basketball."Connor is a hard, hard worker and he plays his heart out. He is pretty strong physically and that is something that we lack," Bonvechio said of his sophomore forward.In the second, the Falcons would score just nine points, getting four from Colton White, three from Rejean Roberge and one each from Kendrick Gray and Keenan Warner.Unfortunately, the Hornets went off in the second, putting up twenty-six points to extend their lead to 47-24 at the half.In the third Essex kept their foot on the gas and Carton kept up his strong scoring pace, dropping in fourteen of his teams twenty-four third quarter points.The Falcons started to show some signs of getting their groove back in the third, scoring sixteen points, eight of them by Duncan.In the fourth Paxman was a one man wrecking crew.The senior had three go in from behind the arc, as well as another six points in front of it."Coach stressed working hard, and we came out, found the open man, hit our shots and played as hard as we could," said Paxman on the improved second half effort by the Falcons.Roberge showed that he is not afraid to go from downtown, hitting a pair of three's, Gray was four for six from the stripe and Warner had a bucket to round out the twenty-seven point offering in the fourth.Said Bonvechio of Roberge, "He has given me some good work. He is long, he's getting stronger, he is a good shooter and he is only going to get better."North Country managed to get the game as close as 80-67 with :58 left, but in the end the hole was just to deep to climb out of and Essex held on for the win.Carton matched his jersey number, scoring a game-high thirty-two points for 5-1 Essex.Paxman led all Falcons with eighteen points. Two other Falcons were in double-digits, Gray with fourteen and Duncan with eleven.Now 1-6 the boys will head to Hinesburg on Tuesday to face 3-4 CVU, a game that could find the Falcons getting their second win of the season in.Tip-off is at 6:30.