Hastings squandered an 11-point lead late in the third quarter on Thursday but rallied back in an impressive fourth quarter display to beat rival Irvington, 52-40.
The league victory pushes the Yellow Jackets’ record to 4-3 heading into the holiday break and was described by coach Ezra Elliott as a “must have” win.
“We were on a little two-game losing streak so this game was huge,” Elliott said. “We needed a win and this was the biggest win of the season for us so far.”
After wasting a 10-point third-quarter lead in an eventual loss to league rival Bronxville on Tuesday, the Yellow Jackets seemed poised to let another one slip through their fingers. Irvington closed the third quarter on a 12-1 run, knotting the score at 34-34.
Irvington’s Ryan O’Donnell (eight points) and Kevin Tierney (11 points) led the Bulldogs back into the game on offense as the Irvington zone defense stifled Hastings over the final five minutes of the third.
Despite experiencing a sense of déjà vu, Elliott wasn’t concerned.
“I tell the guys that that’s the game of basketball, it’s a game of runs,” Elliott said. “Teams are going to make runs. It’s not a matter of if they’ll make a run as much as it is when they’ll make a run. All that matter to us is how we handle it.”
Hastings took advantage of the Bulldog’s fourth quarter shooting woes and coolly pulled away in the final frame. Powered by Francesco Scioscia (15 points, eight rebounds) and senior captain Jeb Polstein (13 points, ten rebounds), Hastings kept Irvington at bay with a combination of clutch offensive rebounding and effective shooting from the line.
“We had a tough loss Tuesday and we worked on some things and addressed some issues within our team,” Scioscia said. “We go hard in practice and we shoot free throws whenever we’re fouled even in practice. We have good players on this team, everyone can close.”
The Hastings core of Scioscia, Polstein, and captain Joe Tino (11 points, 11 rebounds) is a dangerous one. Add the impressive athletic talents of Qu’Ran Robinson and the leadership of point guard Rob Hevia to the mix and the Yellow Jackets are formidable across the board.
“I think if we play good defense and rebound we’re going to be in good shape,” Elliott said. “It’s a great feeling believing in your five guys to finish the game. When the other team starts fouling, in the back of my mind I start feeling pretty sure we’ll win the game.”
The next time Hastings takes the court will be Friday, December 28 as host of their own holiday tournament. Irvington (2-4) has lost two in a row and will travel to Edgemont on January 7.