EMIGSVILLE — The biggest factor that makes the Northeastern boys’ basketball team so difficult to defeat is the duo of seniors Fred Mulbah and Antonio Rizzuto.
On most nights, those two alone can be enough for the Bobcats to prevail.
Fortunately for coach Jon Eyster, his Northeastern team is more than just Rizzuto and Mulbah.
That was proven again when the Bobcats squared off against backyard rival Central York in a York-Adams League Division I showdown on Tuesday, Jan. 23. While Rizzuto and Mulbah certainly shouldered much of the load against the home-standing Panthers, a couple of other Bobcats showed what they could do late in the fourth quarter.
Andrew Brodbeck knocked down a clutch free throw with his team trailing by a point late in the fourth quarter to even the score. After the Panthers missed a chance to regain the lead, the visitors were able to get the ball, not to Mulbah or Rizzuto, but to Nate Wilson, who knocked down the go-ahead 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds left.
Wilson’s shot proved to be decisive when Central York standout Landyn Ray missed on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, sending the Bobcats to a thrilling 67-64 triumph.
“Quay Mulbah set a good screen and Fred Mulbah drove and found me outside,” Wilson said. “And right when I let that go I knew it was going in.”
On a night when both sides traded the lead back and forth regularly, it was bound to be the team that made the final shot that would prevail. Central coach Kevin Scheiler certainly did not want to give Rizzuto, who finished with a game-high 33 points, or Fred Mulbah, who poured in 21 more, to take that shot.
Wilson, who scored just five points, has done this type of thing a few times before. Maybe not with three seconds left in a tie game, but the sophomore has hit his share of big shots over the past two years.
And Scheiler, who was certainly disappointed with the outcome, can live with forcing a team to go to its third or fourth option with the game on the line.
“If we can force a team to go to their third scoring option at the end of the game, that’s usually a good thing,” Scheiler said. “Unfortunately, all of Northeastern’s scoring options are pretty fantastic. They’re all really good basketball players.”
The Panthers, who fell to the Bobcats (17-0 overall, 10-0 D-I) by a 59-42 margin earlier in the season, were able to keep their rivals within striking distance all night. Ray came up big, especially in the fourth quarter when the senior poured in seven of his team-best 20 points. Both Cade Pribula and Garrett Markey — who scored 17 points apiece — did their part with five points each over the final eight minutes.
Despite all of that, the Panthers (10-7, 6-4) found out that you almost have to play a perfect game to knock off the Bobcats.
“I was really happy with our intensity level and our energy tonight,” said Scheiler, whose team has dropped four of its last five. “Obviously there are some mental lapses and mistakes that you make in a game that can change the outcome, but our energy and our effort tonight was top-notch.”
Eyster, whose team was seriously tested Saturday in a 52-46 triumph over Bishop McDevitt, can breathe a sigh of relief after seeing his team pull out Tuesday’s victory.
"We didn’t play great,” Eyster said. “We had some guys not play intelligently at times, but we made some plays when we had to and Nate hit a big shot when he was wide open. He was ready for it.”
York High 53, Dallastown 50, OT: At York High, the Bearcats outscored the Wildcats 10-7 in overtime. Kyree Generett (14 points), Marquise McClean (13), Clovis Gallon Jr. (11) and Seth Bernstein (10) each hit double figures for York. Dallastown's Braden Caldwell led all scorers with 20 points. York High improved to 10-6 overall and 6-3 in York-Adams Division I. Dallastown fell to 9-7 and 4-6.
York Catholic 62, Bermudian Springs 49: At York, D'Andre Davis' 19 points sparked the Fighting Irish. Torrey Thomas added 10 for the winners, who improved to 12-4 overall and 9-0 in York-Adams Division III.
York Tech 70, Hanover 61: At Spry, the Spartans improved to 10-5 overall and 7-2 in York-Adams Division III. Terance Romey poured in 29 points for the Spartans, while Khalil Redman added 25. Redman had six 3-pointers, while Romey had three. Kyle Bowman had 27 points in a losing cause.
Susquehannock 54, West York 37: At Glen Rock, Jackson Murphy (15 points), Jordan McMillion (12 points) and Jake Mahan (11 points) paced the Warriors.
Dover 56, Gettysburg 35: At Gettysburg, Keith Davis scored 17 points and Brady Bowman added 15 for Dover, which improved to 13-2 overall and 8-0 in York-Adams Division II.
Red Lion 50, South Western 31: At Hanover, Tyler Burchett pumped in 24 points to power the Lions. Derek Huff had 14 points in a losing cause.
West Shore Christian 59, Christian School of York 45: At West Shore Christian, Alex Pantelic (14 points), Brady Stauffer (11 points) and Tate Pendell each hit double digits in the CSY loss.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.