Flyers rally late to take down Tupper Lake

Tupper Lake junior Skyler Pickering puts up a layup in the second quarter of Thursday's home loss to Norwood-Norfolk. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

TUPPER LAKE — The Tupper Lake boys basketball team built a double-digit lead early in Thursday night’s home game against Norwood-Norfolk, but the Flyers rallied late to top the Lumberjacks 70-51.

The two teams were evenly matched in the first quarter, which ended with the home team ahead 15-14. Tupper Lake then accrued an 11-point lead about midway through the second quarter, but Norwood-Norfolk clawed its way back to within one, going into the half down 30-29.

The Flyers came out hot and never looked back in the second half. The visitors scored the first hoop of the third period and put away six unanswered points before Lumberjacks senior Benjamin Reichert-Lanthier was sent to the foul line and sank one of two shots to slow the skid.

Tupper Lake had a lot of unlucky bounces off the rim and couldn’t get the ball to fall, but Norwood-Norfolk was dominant under the boards and prevented the Lumberjacks from getting many second chances.

The Flyers were up 48-34 with 1:20 left in the third when sophomore Tyler Yell drained a 3-pointer from the left side of the arc. Then, with just 2.4 seconds left in the third, Tupper Lake sophomore Noah Varden grabbed a loose ball near the top of the key and took a couple of dribbles before draining a buzzer-beater to bring the hosts within 10 at 50-40.

Tupper Lake’s Bradley McLear flies toward the basket early in Thursday’s home game against Norwood-Norfolk. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

With three minutes left in the fourth quarter, Norwood-Norfolk’s Cole Perretta took a shot from near the free throw line, and then jumped to grab his own rebound when the shot came off the rim. But Lumberjacks junior Kodee Hill tipped the ball out of Perretta’s hands and then dished it up to Bradley McLear for an easy layup to round out the Lumberjacks’ scoring.

The Flyers stayed hot and maintained their lead for the rest of the contest.

Norwood-Norfolk’s Joel Garriga led the game in scoring, putting up 30 points in the win. Varden led the Lumberjacks with 16, while McLear scored 12 and Yell added 11. Skyler Pickering had eight points and Noah Cordes, Reichert-Lanthier and Dalton laFountain each contributed to the home team’s total.

Varden said the Lumberjacks played well early on, but that the team needs to maintain that intensity after the half as well.

“I think our first half was a lot better than our second half, definitely,” he said. “We’ve been low recently, losing a few games (including) one we definitely should have won the other night.

Lumberjacks sophomore Tyer Yell brings the ball up court Thursday night at home against the Norwood-Norfolk Flyers. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

“Coming into halftime is always hard. Third quarter is where the game is played. We came out hot in the first quarter and we were hoping we could come out hot in the third, but it didn’t quite happen that way.”

Norwood-Norfolk improved to 1-4 on the season, while the ‘Jacks dropped to 1-7.

Flyers coach Nate Plantz said slow starts have been a feature of his team so far this season, but that he was happy with how his boys played.

“We’re getting there. We were a little sluggish there for the first half,” Plantz said. “(But) the kids decided to get moving there at half.

“They didn’t put their heads down when we got down early, they just fought back and did a lot of little things and played as a group.”

Tupper Lake sophomore Noah Varden sets up for a 3-pointer Thursday night. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

Lumberjacks coach Brian Bennett said the team suffered a heartbreaker on Tuesday to Parishville, but with three starters out of the game, he said some of the kids showed strength coming off the bench.

“I was excited to see what we saw in the first half because we have three starters out right now, so I was excited to see that three guys who hadn’t started a game all season came out played well tonight,” he said. “But they changed to a 3-2 zone, and that was the difference.

“I’m feeling better tonight than I did on Tuesday, because I felt like the hustle and heart weren’t there (on Tuesday), but tonight I saw it all game.”

Tupper Lake next plays a non-league game against Salmon River at the SUNY Canton gym on Saturday at 3 p.m.

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