New York Mills – Richard Phelps did not start for Oriskany’s boys basketball team in Monday’s showdown for first place. The sophomore did something even better for coach Chris Mahoney’s team, and it led to a 58-50 victory before a packed gym.
“They told me they needed somebody to step up,” the 6-foot-1 guard/forward said.
Phelps stepped up and made a 3-pointer with 1:48 to play to break a tie, followed that with a drive to the basket for two more points and made a basket with eight seconds to play that capped a 58-50 win against second place New York Mills.
“Being young, it’s usually other people,” Phelps said of the hero roles for Oriskany. “I was there (tonight). I wasn’t nervous. We’re 17-0.”
And now Oriskany is 18-0 and still alone in first in the Center State Conference. But at the start it did not look like coach Mike Adey’s Marauders would have a chance to win on their home court. Senior standout Terrance Nichols was held scoreless in a brutal first quarter for NYM (14-3).
“I wouldn’t say it was nerves,” Nichols said afterward. “I think we came out flat and weren’t there offensively. We were trying to figure out what they were doing.”
What Oriskany did was start the game on an 11-2 run as Marcus Smithling led the way with a layup and a three. The visitors dominated inside on defense and when NYM did get a shot off it usually was off the mark, rebounded quickly and became a fast break for Oriskany. Smithling and Anthony Warcup had threes to stretch the edge to 17-5 then the teams played evenly to the end of the period, where Oriskany led 22-10.
Nichols finally scored in the second period with a three, his shot following one by teammate Mike Copperwheat. Suddenly it was a six-point game and NYM fans cheered loudly. But the momentum didn’t last long as Shamis Lasher had a three-point play to start a 10-3 run that saw his team finishing the quarter ahead 32-21.
The 3-pointer in the second period were Nichols’ only points in the first half but the senior caught fire midway in the third quarter, and NYM needed him to. Oriskany had opened the period with an 11-5 run for a 17-point lead. That prompted coach Mike Adey to call timeout and when play resumed it quickly became a different game. Nichols sandwiched threes around a basket by Griffin Baur and Ben Kehrli followed that up with a basket off a great pass from John Mitchell. Nichols then made another of his game-high five 3-pointers, this one from well behind the arc and Mahoney called timeout with his team suddenly ahead by just four points.
Lasher made a great steal in the closing seconds to set up Smithling for a layup that gave Oriskany breathing room, but Nichols led NYM on a 7-2 run to open the last quarter. Baur’s pullup jumper cut Oriskany’s lead to 47-46 with 4:40 to play, but NYM missed two chances to take the lead in the next minute.
Lasher made one foul shot with 2:24 to play but Nichols made two straight with 2:15 to play to tie the game for the first time for NYM.
That set up Phelps for his heroics down the stretch and Oriskany wrapped up the league title and stayed unbeaten as a result against the defending league champs and state runnerup.
“I think we found a rhythm in the second half,” Nichols said. “But we’re still not there yet. We’ll see them in sectionals. We’ll bounce back.”
Nichols led all scorers with 24 points and Baur was next best for NYM with nine.
Smithling had 15, Phelps 13, Lasher and Ryan Schmadel 10 apiece to pace Oriskany.
Oriskany 22 10 13 13 – 58
NY Mills 10 11 18 11 – 50
Oriskany (18-0): Marcus Smithling 15, Shamis Lasher 10 , Kyle Liddy 2, Richard Phelps 13, Ryan Schmadel 10, Anthony Warcup 8.
NYM (14-3): Terrance Nichols 24, Mike Copperwheat 3, Ben Kehrli 7, Griiffin Baur 9, Paul Ward 5, Ryan Sharpe 2.