CRARYVILLE — MVP! MVP! chanted the TaconicHills faithful as senior forward Russ Beck went through the handshake line.
Beck, after scoring only three points in the first 16 minutes, scored 25 in the final 24. His late-game heroics helped the Titans pull-off a dramatic comeback to capture a 50-49 double overtime victory over the Maple Hill Wildcats on Friday night.
"It's been said all year that we are going to put it in Russ' hands and see what happens. He had a rough first half, things were not bouncing his way, they were not bouncing anyway really, and we got him some touches in the second half. I told him to be aggressive and he got the job done," TH coach Tom Super said. "I mean it's some coaching, but it is a lot on the players."
The first quarter featured scoring from not Beck nor Nick Butler, Maple Hill's leading scorer, but Devon Charron and Blake Decker.
The Titans' 3-point marksman, Jacob West, buried a trey from the corner to give the Titans an 8-5 lead with 1:35 to play in the first quarter, but Decker eliminated the lead with a trey before the buzzer, knotting it at eight apiece.
Beck, who was held scoreless in the first quarter, notched his first basket of the evening with 4:45 remaining in the half.
Maple Hill was held scoreless from the 5:25 mark in the quarter, after Nate Mannion sank a lay in to make it a 12-10 game, until 2.8 seconds remaining when Connor Hall drove up the court, past three Titans defenders, for a lay up to beat the buzzer and make it 14-12 entering intermission.
Beck opened the half with his a patented mid-range jumper to give Taconic Hills a 16-12 lead, however, Maple Hill followed that up with an 12-2 run headlined by the emergence of reserve big, Quinn Pratico. The junior forward scored six points in the quarter to help Maple Hill take a 26-21 lead into the fourth.
Practico, who averages 3.1 points per game, finished with 12 points, all in the second half, and scored five crucial points to stave off the Titans comeback efforts before Beck and Kolby Clegg took over.
Beck drove to the lane and sank a lay up with 1:17 remaining and after a stop on defense, the Titans came back up the court and Clegg drove into the lane and made an acrobatic lay up with 54 ticks remaining to make it a 35-33 game.
After both teams made stops, Hall was fouled on the ensuing Maple Hill possession with 25.3 second remaining, but only knocked down one of two free throw tries, making it a three-point, 36-33 game.
West switched off his man and made a key steal on the inbound, passed it to Charron in the corner, who dished it to Beck on the wing, who buried the game-tying three to send the game into overtime.
Junior center Nate Mannion connected on two free throws to open the first OT period.
After Beck and Mannion went 1-for-2 from the charity stripe on consecutive possessions, the Wildcats led 43-40 with 38.3 ticks remaining, and again the game fell in the hands of the Titans' senior leader.
Once again Charron found Beck, who buried a contested 3-pointer with 27.8 ticks remaining to tie the game at 43 apiece and send the game into double overtime.
Beck knocked down a mid-range jumper to make it 47-45 and Charron drove his way into the paint and knocked down a difficult lay up attempt to make it a one-point game, 48-47.
However, Maple Hill refused to give up. Hall drove hard to the basket and drew a foul with 3.0 seconds remaining, sending him to the line for two free throws. The senior guard, a 73 percent free throw shooter, missed both shots and sealed Maple Hill's fate.
Beck finished the night with 28 and his running-mate on this night, Charron, scored 12, along with three key assists.
"Devon's got energy like no one else," Super said. "He is played the whole game, he did not come out at all. He is kind of like our spark. I look for him to score now, I asked him to be a little more aggressive here in the second half of the season and he's doing that and we are winning."
For the Wildcats, Pratico led the way with 12 off the bench and Mannion finished with nine.
With the win, Taconic Hills improves to 5-5 on the season while Maple Hill falls to 8-5 and extends its losing-streak to three straight.
-- Justin Porreca
Maple Hill 42, Taconic Hills 24
In the early action, Taconic Hills was no match for Maple Hill, who came out and made a statement on Lady Titans' home floor capturing a 42-24 victory.
Maple Hill took an 11-0 lead after the first quarter. The Lady Wildcats saw five different players contribute to the early lead.
In the second quarter, Maple Hill continued to pour it on.
After baskets from forwards Natasha Strock and Lydia Chittenden to extend the Lady Wildcats lead to 15-0, Morgan Hoose sank the Lady Titans first bucket of the game with 4:05 remaining in the half.
Guard Marleah Perry buried a triple later in the quarter to make it a 19-5 game, but Maple Hill entered the half leading 23-5.
Maple Hill extended its lead to 27-7, before the Lady Titans found an offensive spark.
Maple Hill ended the run with a basket from Bleau before the Lady Titans finished a strong third quarter off with another basket from Chandler Hoose, making it 31-16 Maple Hill entering the final quarter.
The fourth quarter started out in favor with Taconic Hills, with the Lady Titans going on another 6-0 run, headlined by Perry's four points. After being down by 20 early in the third quarter, Taconic Hills made it a 12-point game with 4:53 remaining.
The story of the game was Taconic Hills' second half. The Lady Titans and Lady Wildcats battled to a 19-19 game in the final two quarters.
Bleau led the Lady Wildcats with nine points on the night and Chittenden, Strock, and Taylor Gerrain each chipped in with eight.
For the Lady Titans, Perry led the way with 10.
With the win, Maple Hill improves to 7-5 on the season while Taconic Hills falls to 3-9.