Evergreens 113, Work Horses 100
(This article will also appear on the official Kronum League website. Be sure to check out the site for additional Week 5 coverage and statistics.)
Petrino, from the Latin, meaning ‘one who is unstoppable on penalty shots’. Now, I’m a little rusty on my foreign language studies but I’m pretty sure that’s an accurate translation after watching Sunday’s battle between the Evergreens and Work Horses. Following a well-played, back-and-forth affair between the two teams, the Evergreens found themselves ahead 101-100 with 28 seconds left and leading scorer Joe Petrino heading to the penalty shot point. Petrino (team-high 30 points including 4-8 shooting on penalty shots) expertly clipped the bottom of the crown with his shot as the ball found the back of the chamber to extend the Evergreens’ advantage. Moments later, teammate Dom Petrino (18 points) said, ‘Big bro, anything you can do, I can do better’, drilling his penalty shot through the rings for six points. That last dagger made the score 110-100 and closed the door on any Horses’ comeback attempt. Next time Horses, foul someone without clutch penalty shooting engrained in his DNA.
The Work Horses were once again victimized by a slow start as the Evergreens exploited the Horses’ slow transition defense in the early going. Evergreens wedgeback Ryan Maley was once again a jack of all trades, dropping 20 points on 10-13 shooting, dishing out a team-high 7 assists, and saving 9 of 15 shots on the game. His rookie of the year campaign continues to gain strength with each passing week.
However, trailing 40-30 after one period, the Work Horses put together one of their best periods of the season in the second frame. Captain Phil Cavalcante (game-high 36 points, 3 blocks) fought through intermittent face-guarding to put the pressure on the Greens’ defense from both the cross and flex zones. In the absence of ranger Mike Small, Kosta Nikolos (22 points on 11-18 shooting) stepped up with his most productive game of the season. The defense also clamped down, led by Matt Sola, who saved 15 of the 29 shots to come his way. After briefly taking a lead, the Work Horses entered the third period only down two points. Unfortunately for them, they were never quite able to get over that hump and build a lead of their own and the marksmanship of the Petrino brothers eventually did them in.
Now at 3-1 and tied for second place in the league standings, the Evergreens continue to impress with their play. The aspect of their game that really stands out is how cohesive a unit they are. The Evergreens know when to find their teammates on backdoor passes and how far out to lead someone on passes into the flex zone. They play with a fluidity that you would not expect to see from a franchise just 4 games into its professional existence. It speaks to the sheer number of games the majority of these players logged together coming up through the rec leagues; they know each other better than a lot of other squads that were just pieced together prior to this preseason. It will be exciting to see the ceiling of this young squad as they continue to gain more and more experience at the professional level.
As for the Work Horses, they have to be encouraged with this effort despite the loss. The offense showed more variety than usual, as the team collected some points in the goal and wedge zones along with the usual Cavalcante scoring barrage out top. More importantly, the defense showed signs of life after a sluggish opening period, limiting what is really a high-powered Evergreens offense. The Horses will win some more games going forward if they continue to bring the level of play they showed in this contest.
Nimble Jacks 100, Throwbacks 96
The Throwbacks came out Sunday decked out in their customary gold with blue trim; but when they face the Nimble Jacks, they might as well be wearing green because they are the Jacks’ kryptonite. After the huge upset the Throwbacks pulled off against the Jacks last season, they nearly duplicated the effort in a game that came down to the closing seconds. However, with the Throwbacks ahead seven points down the stretch, the Jacks showed the resolve that comes with multiple championship campaigns. Scott Kennedy (8 points, 13 assists) and Jared O’Donnell (game-high 30 points) each connected on four-point shots from the cross zone and the defense clamped down as the Nimble Jacks pulled ahead. After a Steve Botta game-tying attempt was blocked as time expired, the Throwbacks’ hopes for another upset had been dashed and the Jacks kept their undefeated season alive.
The Throwbacks came out fired up in search of their first victory of the season. As a team, the Throwbacks accrued 16 and 14 points in the goal and wedge zones, respectively, demonstrating the type of offensive versatility that the Nimble Jacks have made their trademark. Steve Fariss was on fire from the flex area, tallying a game-high 26 points on 12-21 shooting, to go with his team-high 3 blocks. The back-line defense was led by Botta, who tallied 19 saves on 30 opportunities. John Graham also connected on a first-period 8-point kronum as the Throwbacks jumped out to a 14-point lead after one period.
Against most teams, that may have been enough, but the Jacks have proven time and again that you need to play a full 60 minutes against them. When O’Donnell wasn’t ripping shots past opposing wedgebacks, Dan Geiger (24 points and 4 blocks) was doing the same from the flex zone on the opposite side of the field. Despite having a subpar shooting outing, Ryan Coyne focused his energies on the defense end, collecting a league-high 6 steals. The wedgebacks for the Jacks did everything they could to keep the Jacks hanging around while the offense found its rhythm. Sean Kennedy (19 saves on 26 attempts) and Pete Weiss (12 saves on 19 attempts) set the tone for that formidable back-line group. By the end of the second period, the Nimble Jacks were right back in the game, setting the stage for their exciting last-minute comeback.
Though the heart-breaking defeat was surely a kick in the teeth, this performance was easily the Throwbacks’ best of the season. More often than not, their performance would have been enough to secure a victory. If they bring a similar effort each game going forward, the Throwbacks will quickly find themselves out of last place in the standings. As for the Jacks, this game may have served as a wake-up call. Every opponent is going to bring its ‘A’ game against them and they can’t afford to come out flat against anyone. Though they’re capable of making up ground when needed, those last-minute heroics will not always be there.
Night Owls 122, Jet Sets 115
When the Jet Sets and Night Owls get together, chances are you’re in for a high-scoring affair and this most recent contest stuck to the script. Only one wedgeback in the game recorded a save percentage above 50% as balls were flying throught the rings and into the chamber throughtout the game. After the dust settled, one man had recorded a Kronum league-record scoring performance with 55 points, carrying his Night Owls to victory.
After the teams played evenly through one period, it was truly time for the Kyle McGrath show. The veteran ranger and captain of the Night Owls started the second period off in style, connecting on an 8-point kronum off the prime rush for the second straight week. Over the next ten minutes, McGrath would hit multiple shots from the cross zone, snipe a pair of 4-point ring shots (including one off a deflection), and throw in some casual two-point goals from the flex area just to change things up. During this period, Jeff Regensburg (18 points on just 8 shots taken) counter-punched with an impressive 7-point play but the McGrath onslaught built an 82-56 lead for the Night Owls.
Finally, the Jet Sets had seen enough and decided to stick Joe Hoban on McGrath to shadow him across the field. The move worked out brilliantly as the Night Owls’ offense stagnated, allowing the Jet Sets to climb back into the game. Their attack was led by captain Matt Parsons, who dished out a league-high 15 assists to go along with 16 points of his own. Steve Vandenberg led the Sets in scoring with 24 points, including heading a ball through the ring for four points (a Kronum first). After Christian Rota (10 points and team-high 17 saves) threw the ball soccer-style through the rings for 4 at the second period, the Jet Sets found themselves down just six at 95-89.
In the third period, the Jet Sets took their first lead since the opening frame at 103-101, when Regensburg sank a 4-point shot off a steal . However, the Night Owls answered with a couple cross shots of their own from Chris VonTanhausen (10 points and 4 blocks) and McGrath to regain a bit of a cushion. With the score 119-115 in the final minute, the Jet Sets had a couple chances at the game-tying shot but the Night Owls wedgebacks made a couple of rare saves (just a 29.2% save percentage on the game). Then, after an Owls’ penalty shot was intentionally let in, the Jet Sets threw the ball away without even getting off a shot for the game-winning kronum.
The loss raises age-old concerns for the Jet Sets; namely, how does a team allow one player to go off for more than 50 points. Defense has always been the achilles heel for the Jets and it’s clearly still a major issue for them. Encouragingly though, the offense still ran smoothly despite Regensburg being shadowed by the Owls’ Frank McKnight and Bill Zane. Parsons and Vandenberg picked their games up and the team appeared to learn some things on that side of that ball after the Nimble Jacks had employed a similar strategy against them. If they can ever iron out their defensive issues, watch out Kronum League.
Despite the victory, the Night Owls exit this game facing a couple questions. First, it would be shocking to see opponents fail to man up McGrath going forward and the Owls will have to learn how to efficiently run their offense when they happens. Also, the wedgebacks had an exceptionally subpar performance in this contest, on the heels of some additional poor defensive efforts recently. Ultimately, the Owls will only go as far as their defense enables them, and right now there’s some work to do. Still, when a team has a player in McGrath capable of going off for a double-nickel, that is a good place to start.
Week 5 Leaders:
Points – Kyle McGrath (55), Phil Cavalcante (36), Joe Petrino (30), Jared O’Donnell (30)
Assists – Matt Parsons (15), Dave Slusser (14), Scott Kennedy (13)
Saves – Sean Kennedy (19), Steve Botta (19), Christian Rota (17)
Blocks – Dan Geiger (4), Chris VonTanhausen (4), Steve Fariss (3), Phil Cavalcante (3)
Steals – Ryan Coyne (6), Derek Clouser (3), 5 players tied with 2