WESTFIELD — The Cowanesque Valley Indians basketball team were able to hold off two big runs by the Montgomery Red Raiders and hold on to protect their home floor with a 59-50 win on Saturday, Jan. 4.
The Indians were able to overcome top scoring option Seth Huyler having a slow first half and falling behind in two big runs from the Red Raiders to get a much needed home win.
The first half was a back and forth with Montgomery closing out the first quarter with a huge run that was led by a press defense and knock down three-point shooting.
The Red Raiders were able to build an 18-11 lead heading into the second, but once the Indians were able to break the press defense they were able to rally back in the second.
They outscored the Red Raiders by 10 points with Owen Fitzwater scoring five and Dustin Vanzile hitting a go ahead three-pointer at the end of the second to bring the score to 25-22.
The Indians pushed ahead early in the third, scoring three unanswered buckets and extending their lead to 31-22, moments into the second half of play.
Montgomery was able to close the gap late, but the Indians still clung to a 38-33 lead with only a quarter left to play.
The fourth opened up with a barrage of three-pointers for the Red Raiders, as they connected on four threes in the final frame, and after a big rally they were able to grab their first lead of the second half by a score of 41-39 with just over four minutes left to play.
The Indians responded with poise, and after a quiet first half Huyler and Vanzile both exploded for a combined 15 of the Indians 21 points in the quarter and closed the game out on a huge run.
After a technical foul by the Montgomery coach after a big Vanzile bucket and foul, the game was all but in the books with the score at 50-41 after the foul shots.
Montgomery was able to keep clawing, but the Indians finished the game out by a score 59-50 for their fourth win of the season.
The press defense by the Red Raiders gave the Indians problems early on, but were able to use it to their advantage later in the game.
“People run that chaotic defense looking to get you out of your comfort zone.” coach Brad Heck said, “I felt that kind of worked for them for a little bit and after we kind of tried to speed our offense up a little bit. We made some careless passes and we took a timeout and kind of regrouped and reassured our guys of their talent and that the offense works when they run it right.”
On a night where their leading scorer struggled to get baskets, the Indians were able to respond with everyone else stepping up and carrying the load.
Joel Heck came out of the gates on fire and scored seven first quarter points and Owen Fitzwater was also in rhythm early scoring seven of his twelve points in the first half.
“We have a pretty solid team, all the way across the board it’s nice that we can count on guys to step up when somebody’s not playing up to what you’re used to,” Heck said.
Vanzile was the player qho stepped up in the biggest way for the Indians, after hitting his first bucket in the closing moments of the first half, he hit almost every big shot down the stretch for the Indians and silenced almost every big shot Montgomery made.
The Indians have been much improved this season, and they pushed their record to 4-5 on the season.
They will need to continue to come together as a unit as they faced one of their toughest opponents of the season when they took on Athens on Wednesday, Jan. 8 and go on to host a strong Wellsboro team next week.