THE HORNETS celebrate their buzzer-beating, one-point win over Abington in the D3 preliminary round on March 1. No. 41 North Reading played No. 9 Hanover down to the wire on Saturday night but came up just short 54-51 in a first round matchup. (Eric Evans Photo)
HANOVER — It was a wild week for the NRHS boys’ basketball team.
The 41st-ranked road Hornets began their Div. 3 tournament on March 1 with a thrilling, 67-66 preliminary round win over No. 24 Abington as senior Logan Scribner hit a layup at the buzzer to win it.
The Hornets then traveled to No. 9 Hanover for a first round matchupon Saturday, giving the Hawks all they could handle but Hanover pulled it out in the last minute, 54-51, ending North Reading’s season at 11-11.
“I am tremendously proud of the effort we put forth,” said North Reading head coach Joe Casey. “The kids and coaches and parents involved with this run this week will remember these two games for the rest of our lives.”
The win over Abington will go down in NR hoop history.
The Hornets took an early lead behind a balanced offensive attack led by Scribner (25 points) and classmate Andrew Boulas (18 points) and the inside play of seniors Matt Guidebeck (8 pts) and Sam Morelli (8 pts), both instrumental in getting Abington’s big man in foul trouble which helped the Hornets keep pace.
Trailing 15-12 after one, the game was back-and-forth in the 2nd with every Abington run tempered by a hoop from Boulas. The Hornets got a big boost off the bench with buckets from sophomore Andrew Taylor and freshman Jason Berry. Abington led 31-25 at halftime.
The home team established dominance down low in the 3rd, starting the quarter off on a 7-0 run. Scribner and Boulas responded as Scribner exploded for 15 points in the quarter, many off steals leading to layups and Boulas scored 8 including two 3-pointers. The Hornets closed the deficit to 51-48 after three.
The 4th quarter was nothing short of crazy as both teams went back-and-forth like two prizefighters.
Guidebeck had two 3’s in the 4th, none bigger than one from the corner in front of the Hornet bench with just over 30 seconds to play, putting NR up 65-64. Abington’s center ended up with an and-one with just under 10 seconds to play to regain the lead. The foul shot was missed and the Hornets called for timeout.
With 3.5 seconds remaining and with the Hornets needing to go 75 feet for a potential game-winning bucket, Morelli threw a perfect side out-of-bounds pass to Scribner who blew past his guy on the baseline and calmly laid the ball off the backboard and in as the buzzer sounded, sending the Hornet bench and large crowd on hand into complete bedlam at one of the most stunning wins in Hornet basketball history.
“One of the best games I’ve ever been involved with as a coach” said Casey. “Just like we have done all year, the kids battled and somehow found a way to win. Our effort was outstanding. l had fans coming up to me after the game from Abington saying that was one of the best high school basketball games they had ever seen.”
In another instant classic, the Green and Gold got out to an early 15-4 lead in Hanover with senior guard Alex Carucci (14 pts) leading the way with 5 points. The Hornets hit three triples in the first, taking a 15-7 lead after one.
The balanced attack continued in the 2nd as the Hornet defense continued to hold a high-powered Hanover offense in check. Boulas (12 pts), Guidebeck (11 pts) and Scribner (8 pts) all contributed offensively and Hornets held onto a 26-18 lead at halftime.
Hanover came alive in the 3rd despite more, great defense from the Green and Gold. Guidebeck had three big hoops in the quarter and entered the 4th up 41-34.
“Credit should be given to the bench who played a crucial role in maintaining the lead,” said Casey as the Hornets had three starters in foul trouble. That bench effort included senior Kevin Doble and sophomores Taylor and Parker Griffin.
Hanover chipped away at the Hornet lead in the 4th despite Carucci answering with big hoops.
With two minutes left, NR still led by four, but later with the game tied with under a minute left, Hanover hit a huge 3 to take the lead for the first time all game. The Hornets had a chance at a game-tying shot in the last 20 seconds but their attempt was no good and Hanover escaped with a 54-51 win.
“Give Hanover credit they made a few more plays than us down the stretch,” said Casey. “Nobody gave us a chance tonight but we were one or two possessions away from another major upset.”