Devin Ashley’s heart was racing as he waited for the longest 30 seconds of his basketball career to wind down.
“Man, it was like a train,” Ashley said with a smile. “It was pumping.”
Ashley drained a game-winning three-point shot as the CSAT Eagles upset No. 9 large school, the North Tonawanda Lumberjacks, 46-44, in Niagara Frontier League Boys’ basketball action at CSAT’s Shoshone Complex in North Buffalo.
Ashley’s shot came on the heels of Dante Moultrie going 2-for-2 from the line to put the Jacks (13-6, 9-5) up with 46.5 seconds left in regulation.
“It’s a big win for us. Man, I can’t believe we won this game,” said Ashley, who had 14 points. “But it all comes from heart, intensity. It was a big one.”
As the Eagles walked off the court CSAT’s Jayden Gulledge yelled an emphatic “that’s how you finish a game!” That statement was a perfect description of the Eagles season, their second in the NFL.
Now standing at 10-9 overall, 6-4 in the Frontier Division of the NFL, the Eagles know that knocking off the defending Section VI Class A Champion Lumberjacks is more than just a notch in the win column.
After seeing some close games slip away earlier in the season to have the mental toughness to collect the win over a high-quality opponent in a high-pressure situation shows how much the Eagles have grown.
A nail-biter from the opening tip-off to the final buzzer, when NT had one last look at the basket but couldn’t sink the shot, the two clubs were separated by four points or less for the majority of the game.
CSAT’s DeShawn Williams gave his team a huge morale boost when he completed a four-point play, making a free throw after drawing a foul. It gave the Eagles a 21-17 lead at halftime and set the stage for a 28-21 lead as the third quarter progressed.
Moultrie (12 points) connected on back-to-back 3’s to pull within one, 28-27 at the end of the third.
“It’s a hundred percent true,” CSAT head coach Camilo Hoyos said. “There’s no way we would have started this year by beating North Tonawanda. If that was our first league opponent I can almost guarantee that we’re going to lose by a substantial amount but through the highs and lows. We wound up being tough enough to stand in that game.”
“I’m going to be honest with you, there were times in the past we might have folded. Start pointing fingers, but guys knew. All day (Sunday) in practice we preached composure and poise and that’s what we did.”
The Jacks were led by Trevor Book (20 points) who was coming off of a 40-point performance in a win over Kenmore West on Friday.
NT coach Ryan Mountain is hopeful that his squad can learn from this game and emerge a better team as they prepare for Grand Island this Wednesday in the league’s crossover game before heading into sectionals next week.
“First of all, all the credit goes to CSAT tonight. They played very hard and it was very important to them. So, congratulations to them,” Mountain said.
“We knew this game was going to be decided in the fourth quarter, with their full roster they’ve done some real damage all season long. At the end of the day, they made one more shot that we did. We had opportunities to win the game. It’s a good measuring stick and the only thing we can do is come back strong and go to Grand Island and that’s just going get us more battle tested for the sectionals.”
The Eagles will host Lockport on Wednesday in their NFL crossover game that pits teams from the Niagara Division against the Frontier Division matchup games based on standings to date.