Above, Old Forge’s Dom Avvisato looks to make a move to the basket as Holy Cross’s Josh Kosin defends. Below left, Tony Goodall goes to the basket for the Blue Devils. Below right, Old Forge point guard Mario Martinelli look to pass the ball in a loss to Holy Cross on Tuesday night.photos by BILL TARUTIS
There was a basketball game to be played after Old Forge’s Kiel Eigen performed his “Miracle on Marion Street” on Tuesday night during Senior Parents Night festivities in The Devils Den.
And oh what a basketball game it was.
The Blue Devils and Holy Cross put on a show for the capacity crowd in the Elio Ghigiarelli Gymnasium in which the Crusaders took the knock-down, drag ‘em out affair, 47-43, in overtime as both team’s wrapped up its Lackawanna League Division II regular-season schedule for the season.
Drained emotionally from seeing their teammate walk for the first time in public in almost five years, the Blue Devils fell behind 7-0 in the first three minutes of the game before Tony Goodall snapped the drought with two free throws at the 4:31 mark of the first quarter.
A minute later senior Bill Nocera drained a three-pointer from the left corner, and senior Dom Avvisato followed with his lone field goal on the night to tie the game at 7-7 with under three minutes left in the opening quarter.
Holy Cross ended the quarter on a 5-1 run for the 12-8 lead but Old Forge came out for the second quarter refocused and reeled off a 16-8 quarter behind eight from Goodall and four from Nocera to take a 24-20 lead at intermission.
The Blue Devils had their lead cut to 26-25 with 6:28 showing on the third quarter clock, but senior Mario Martinelli scored Old Forge’s next six points during an 8-2 run that gave the hosts a 34-27 lead with 2:10 left in the period.
Holy Cross quickly recovered and put together a 12-0 run over the next 5:37 to take a 39-34 lead before Avvisato stopped the run with two free throws with 4:19 remaining in the game.
Old Forge would lose Martinelli to his fifth foul at the 1:28 mark, and the Crusaders increased their lead back to five on the ensuing free throws.
But the Blue Devils did not go away.
Goodall canned two free throws with 1:17 to get Old Forge within 41-38, and after Holy Cross missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Nocera drove to the basket for an old fashioned three-point play after he got his runner to fall and canned the free throw to tie the game at 41-41 with 58 seconds left.
Holy Cross missed another free throw, and Old Forge would have two chances to win the game, including Dave Argust’s elbow jumper off of an inbounds play that rattled the rim at the horn.
The Crusaders won the overtime tip and took 2:52 off the clock before Mike Brannon’s baseline jumper ripped the nets for a 43-41-lead.
Goodall and Nocera then each made one of two free throws to tie the game with less than a minute left in overtime.
Holy Cross took the lead for good with 28 seconds left when Andrew Moran put back an offensive rebound and drained the ensuing free throw after being fouled on the play for a 46-43 lead.
Brannon then blocked Nocera’s would-be game-tying three-point attempt and converted 1-of-2 from the charity stripe for the final margin.
Goodall led the Blue Devils with 16 points and seven rebounds. Nocera added 11 points for Old Forge, and Avvisato chipped in with seven points and six rebounds.
Brannon – an Old Forge resident – scored three of his four points in the overtime for the Crusaders. Josh Kosin led Holy Cross with 19 points.
The four-time defending champion Blue Devils are the top-seed in the District 2 Class 1A tournament. They will open play on March 1 against the Forest City (4-17) v. St. Michael’s (1-13) quarterfinal winner. The other semifinal features MMI Prep (6-16) v. Susquehanna (7-15).
The winners play March 4 for the championship. All games are played at neutral sites.