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Valley Sports Report
ROME — The combination of Sayre’s 3-point shooting and post play was enough for them to overcome a slow start and hold off Northeast Bradford, 55-49, in season-opening NTL Division-II boys’ basketball action Monday.

The Redskins saw themselves down as much as 14-5 late in the first quarter but used a 10-0 run to take a 26-22 lead at the break.

“I told the guys at halftime, ‘that first half was our scrimmage,’” said Sayre coach Devin Shaw. “We picked it up in the second quarter, and kind of figured things out and got moving.”

Lucas Horton and Connor Young were strong around the basket, with Horton netting 20 points, while Young had eight points and seven boards. It was Horton’s first start in the post and Shaw liked what he saw.

“We’re switching it up this year and he’s switched over well,” he said.

Horton also had to guard NEB’s Nick Beers, the 6-foot, 4-inch forward who came over from North Rome Christian School when their season was cancelled.

Beers finished with 25 points, but Shaw felt Horton made him work for it.

“He goes strong to the hoop, so that’s always a tough guard,” said Shaw. “That’s kind of a challenge to Luke, ‘I want to put you on their best player, let’s go see if you can play some defense and shut him down.’ It’s hard to shut that kid down, he’s going to get his points no matter what.”

Sayre really took off when their 3-pointers fell in the second half. They had eight as a team, led by Dom Fabbri nailing three in the third quarter alone en route to 11 points and four assists.

“Those went in and that helped a bit,” said Shaw. “And then, when we went to a 2-3 zone and we got those three steals, that lit a spark under us and guys were getting excited with that.”

Sayre had 10 steals as a team with Fabbri and Matt Lane both nabbing two. Lane also had three points and five assists.

Zach Moore finished with six points while Josh Arnold and Zach Garrity had three points apiece.

For NEB, Beers had seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks to go with his points, while center Dan Seeley had 18 points, two boards and two steals.

Lucas Crown added five points with three boards and two assists, while Ethan Finch had three points, five boards, three assists and two steals.

The Panthers were playing without two starters.

It was all NEB early as Beers had his way with Sayre inside. He scored the first six points and assisted on their next two for a 10-5 lead. Another bucket from Beers made it 12-5 just after the mid-point of the first quarter.

A Seeley bucket would push it to 14-5 before Sayre responded with back to back scores from Young and Horton down low.

Crown went 1-of-2 from the charity stripe for a 15-9 NEB lead at the quarter break.

A Seeley bucket to start the second quarter gave the Panthers an eight-point lead, but they went cold after that.

Sayre took advantage, beginning with back-to-back lay-ups from Young and Horton. Horton then hit a 3-ball off a Lane assist to cut it to 17-16 midway through the quarter.

Horton gave Sayre its first lead on a lay-up just after the four-minute mark of the second quarter. Lane would go 1 of 2 from the line to make it 19-17, but a Crown putback tied the game up at 19-19 all.

After that the two teams traded scores, with Sayre holding a 23-22 lead late. That’s when Fabbri found Garrity for a 3-ball late in the quarter to take the 26-23 halftime lead.

The Panthers came out strong in the second half as they got back-to-back buckets from Beers and Crown to knot the game up at 26-all.

A Horton lay-up gave Sayre the lead back, but only momentarily, as a pair of freebies from Seeley tied it again.

That’s when the Redskins went on a little run, beginning with another Horton lay-up. Fabbri then hit a 3-ball followed by back-to-back free throws from Lane as they raced out to a 35-28 lead.

NEB responded as Finch hit their only 3-ball of the night to cut it to 35-31, but Horton made it 37-31 with a lay-up at the other end.

The Panthers then had back-to-back buckets to cut it to 37-35. A Fabbri 3-ball, his second of the quarter, pushed Sayre up by five, but Seeley responded with a lay-up to cut it to a one possession game again.

Beers hit a putback with under one minute to go in the third quarter to cut it to 40-39, but Fabbri had the last answer, hitting his final three-pointer at the buzzer to put Sayre up 43-39.

Right out of the gates in the fourth quarter, Arnold hit a 3-pointer for Sayre to make it 46-39.

Beers cut it to 46-43 with back-to-back lay-ups, but Sayre would extend its lead to 9-points with six straight points. It was Horton doing most of the damage, getting a lay-up, then nailing a 3-ball for the 52-43 lead late in the game.

Beers hit a lay-up to cut it to 52-45, but with just over one minute left the Panthers needed to foul, and Sayre was good enough from the line, going 3-for-6, to pull out the win.

Shaw expects this to be the first of many close games in the NTL this year.

“I think this is the toughest the league’s probably been in a while,” he said. “There’s no off night, but you have to take it one game at a time. You can’t be the best team in the league at the beginning of the season, you just have to be the best team in the gym every night, and then the rest will take care of itself.”


IN PHOTO 1: Sayre's Lucas Horton shoots over NEB's Dan Seeley. … PHOTOS BY CHRIS MANNING.

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