Both the Alden Bulldogs and the Tonawanda Warriors Boys Basketball teams are having seasons that no one ever wants to have, but on Friday night the two teams met to try to pick up some momentum as they head into the bulk of their league schedule.
In a defensive struggle, it was the Bulldogs who pulled away and beat the Warriors 44-30 in ECIC IV action.
Christian Snell was literally jumping over people to help his team win.
A minute and half into the second half, the Bulldogs had on inbound pass right next to the Warriors basket. Instead of Alden running some set play to find an open man, they decided to throw the pass high into the lane. 6′ 1″ forward Christian Snell leaped up grabbed the ball and before coming down threw the ball in the basket to give his team a 21-18 lead. A lead the Bulldogs would not give up.
Alden was down a starter and key player who often comes off the bench. So, Snell and fellow captain Conrad Boucher had to step up.
“We had some adversity”, Alden Head Coach Mike Trzybinski said. “They rose to the occasion.”
But for Snell jumping over people wasn’t the only thing the third year varsity junior was doing for the Bulldogs. Snell also had several steals throughout, including two in the opening minutes of the game. The issue the Bulldogs weren’t turning them into points.
Snell had 12 points, including going 4-4 from the foul line in the win.
“Christian is great, he’s a tremendous athlete and he allows us to do a bunch of different things”, Trzybinski said. “He’s a very team orientated guy.”
Despite not converting on their opportunities Alden still lead 12-9 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter the Warriors took the lead after back-to-back three-pointers from Nick Bitter and Trey Lilly. But Tonawanda committed a second foul on a Bulldog player shooting from the three-point line. Josh Jeziorski made two of his three free throws which gave Alden the 19-18 lead at the half.
Lilly led the Warriors with 11 points and hit three three-pointers in the losing effort.
Tonawanda was in foul trouble all night. As a team the Warriors committed 19 fouls and three players fouled out of the game.
“We lacked discipline at times, it came down to missing shots”, Tonawanda Head Coach Henry Hughes said. “We shot 0-9 from the line, that’s unacceptable for varsity basketball.”
The missing players not only called on Snell and Boucher to stand up, but also guys like Bradley Kibler who got more playing time then he usually does thanks to the absences.
“I was pleased with the guys who don’t normally get minutes coming in and did some positive things”, Trzybinski said.
“Brad (Kibler) stepped up and knocked down a few shots for us”, Snell said.
Kibler had two three-pointers in the win. Boucher had eight points while facilitating the offence for Alden. Alex Leigh tied Snell for a team high 12 points.
Now, 3-7 this season Alden believes they have finally found an identity.
“I think we have to be a team that plays in the half court and grinds it out”, Trzybinski said. “I think when you win games like this it gives your guys confidence.”
According to Snell the Bulldogs are ready to live up to their namesake as they get into the second half of the season.
“We want to be the underdogs and sweep the division”, Snell said. “We have to keep playing together like we did today.”
Alden and Tonawanda will continue their ECIC IV schedules on Tuesday. Alden heads to Lackawanna and Tonawanda will host Springville. Both games will have 6:30pm tip-offs.
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