ELBA — Heading into Friday night’s matchup, it wasn’t certainly forgotten by the Elba boys basketball team that rival Notre Dame got the best of them three times last season. Yet playing without two of its top players who were out within injuries, avenging those losses to the Fighting Irish wasn’t going to be easy. But the Lancers found a way.
Jon Boyce had a monster night with game-highs of 28 points, 20 rebounds and six blocks and Elba overcame a nine-point deficit midway through the third quarter with a stellar defensive effort to stun Notre Dame 52-48.
In just his second varsity game, freshman Zach Marsceill sparked the Elba offense as he scored all of his 11 points in the second half, while the Lancers defense held the Fighting Irish to just 15 points in the second half, including none in the final 2:55 of the game.
“That’s kind of the magnitude of our team, we’re not made of one or two guys, we have a plethora of players who can play and do different things,” Elba head coach Ciaci Zambito said. “No one is going to feel bad for Elba if Colton is out and Greyson is out, they understand that and there is no excuse. We have to come to play.”
Elba erased a five-point deficit heading into the final quarter and both Boyce and Marsceill were right in the mix.
Down three midway through the fourth, Marsceill hit his third triple of the night to knot the game at 46; less than a minute later, Boyce put home a lob from Collin O’Halloran to give Elba its first lead since it was 8-7 with two minutes left in the first quarter.
After a drive to the hoop from Gabe Macdonald tied the game again, Boyce calmly hit a pair of free throws to give Elba the lead for good with under a minute remaining.
O’Halloran hit both ends of a one-and-one with 6.1 seconds remaining to seal the win.
“This means everything,” said Boyce of coming back after losing to Notre Dame three times last season. “That’s in the past and we just had that fire building inside of us all offseason. We just came out here, stayed with the plan, stayed focused and did what we’ve been working hard for for a whole eight months.”
O’Halloran finished with just five points on the night but had 12 rebounds and eight assists, while Marsceill added six rebounds for Elba, which was playing without a pair of juniors in last year’s leading scorer Colton Dillon and Greyson Huntington, who are both expected back later this season.
Macdonald led Notre Dame (1-1) with 14 points, 10 rebounds, six steals and five assists and Spencer Misiti added nine points, six rebounds and three assists but the Fighting Irish managed just six made field goals after the break.
Elba jumped out to an 8-0 lead and held Notre Dame scoreless until a jumper from Andrew Moore started the Fighting Irish on a 10-0 run over the final 3:15 of the opening quarter, capped with a 3-point play from Macdonald.
Up just one after an Andrew Hare 3-pointer midway through the second, Notre Dame looked as though it was going to take control as a put-back bucket from Keith Szczepanski started the Fighting Irish on an 11-2 run over the next two-plus minutes as a deep triple from Misiti put Notre Dame up 31-21 with 1:30 left in the half.
But behind Boyce’s 20 first-half points, Elba was able to claw to within 33-27 at the break.
“Jon’s one of the best players in Class D basketball and I’ll fight that until the end,” Zambito said of Boyce. “The way he’s worked, the way he’s gotten himself into shape and just his dedication. He deserves a game like tonight.”
A 7-0 Notre Dame spurt in the middle of the third had the Irish back up 40-31 after a Macdonald follow but they could not pull away.
Lucas Colarco though, who hit three 3-pointers on the night, drilled a trey with three seconds left in third to pull the lead back out to five after Elba had clawed to within two.
Moore added seven points and nine boards for Notre Dame, which will look to bounce back on Tuesday at Lyndonville.
Elba will try to move to 3-0 at Wheatland-Chili on Tuesday.
“We made so many mistakes tonight and we will surely get better but tonight was a just a really big game and it was a good win to get,” Boyce said.
The “fork” ratings are based primarily on food quality and preparation, with service and atmosphere factored into the final decision. Reviews are based on one unsolicited, unannounced visit to the restaurant.