Solak’s shot beats buzzer, Springfield

By Greg Gulas


Nate Solak’s bucket with under a second remaining gave Lowellville to a 51-49 win over Springfield in Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference action Friday night.

It was Solak’s only basket of the second half after he torched the nets for 11 points, including three 3-pointers, in the opening half.

“I was waiting to creep toward the bucket after Matt Hvisdak beat the zone,” Solak said. “The lane got crowded, the ball hit the hoop after he was pressured and it left his hand, ending up in my hand. I was then able to get the shot off in time.”

Tied at 49 with under 20 seconds remaining, Rockets head coach Matt Olson called timeout to design a play for the Tigers’ man-to-man look, and another for their zone defense, which had stifled his Rockets (14-2, 10-1: MVAC) for nearly three quarters.

Olson also wanted to make sure that the ball was in Hvisdak’s hands.

“If it was a zone look, then we had a specific play to run but if they showed man-to-man, then we wanted to go four corners,” added Olson, who has been under the weather a good portion of the week. “He made the decision to drive and Nate was able to finish the play.”

Hvisdak was prepared for either look.

“When I got through the first two defenders and into the lane I wanted shoot, but the entire defense collapsed and luckily Nate was right where he needed to be,” Hvisdak said.

Two free throws and a bucket by Alex Mamula-Zarlingo, and a floater by Jake Rotz gave Lowellville a 47-46 lead with 2:05 remaining. But they fell behind 49-47 on a triple from Drew Clark of the Tigers (9-7, 7-5) 16 seconds later.

Rotz’s bucket in the lane knotted the game at 49 with 1:32 left, setting up Solak’s heroics despite several changes in possession by both teams over the final 92 seconds.

“It was a very physical game, much more than I expected,” Mamula-Zarlingo said. “They have two big guys inside, we have two big guys inside and the key was to hit the boards but not give them anything easy. If anything, put them at the foul line.”

Lowellville built a 17-10 margin after the opening quarter, but when John Ritter nailed eight of game-high 18 points in the second frame, Springfield opened a 28-27 halftime advantage.

Six more points by Ritter in the third period extended the Tigers’ lead to 38-34 with a quarter remaining.

“The first time we played, we played some zone and had some success,” Tigers head coach Steve French said. “John Ritter and Shane Eynon are tough guys inside who do everything we ask of them.”

Clark finished with 11 points and Evan Ohlin 10 for the Tigers while Mamula-Zarlingo was the only other Rockets’ player in double figures with 12.

Lowellville also beat Springfield in an earlier meeting 59-48 on Jan. 9.

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