Alba-Golden boys give Mineola stern test

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The Mineola Yellowjackets topped Alba-Golden 72–64 on the Panthers’ home court to remain undefeated in district play, though the final margin of eight belies the close contest waged Friday.

The bookends of quarters, the opening and closing seconds of each period, showed just how crucial every moment of a game can prove to be.

The Panthers opened strong and held a small lead for nearly five minutes, when the Yellowjackets took over at 7–6. Mineola pushed it to 11-9 and held for the last shot of the quarter, but Alba-Golden’s defense held the gap to two.

The Yellowjackets then stretched the lead to 29-23 and with 27 ticks on the clock stalled for one more scoring opportunity. T.J. Moreland put up a three-pointer at the buzzer, got fouled and sunk all his free throws to close the half with a 32-23 Mineola lead.

Yellowjackets Jonah Fischer and Dawson Pendergrass racked up three fouls each in the first half, as did Alba Golden’s Blake Weissert in the opening quarter alone, costing them playing time.

Alba-Golden opened the second half with back-to-back threes from Jacob Dailey and Jon-Michael Chadwick, then Boedy Baker got a steal and converted a layup, quickly closing the gap to one, prompting a timeout after just 93 seconds of play.

Weissert found his shot, hitting three third-quarter three-point shots.

Chadwick tacked on ten to the Panther tally for the rally back, taking Alba-Golden to a 45-44 lead, its first since 3:19 in the first, by getting a steal and laying it in with 1:44 to go in the third.

The Yellowjackets yet again wanted the final shot of the period, but Chadwick disrupted their plan, deflecting a pass, dashing to the paint and drawing a foul with a single second left. But he couldn’t take advantage, missing both free throws.

Ten seconds into the fourth, Fischer tried to draw a charge on a Chadwick floater but got a blocking call instead, his fourth foul. Mineola head coach Ryan Steadman showed his trust in his junior point guard by leaving him in, and Fischer proved that move wise, staying foul-free for the remainder and going 6-of-6 from the charity stripe down the stretch to add to his 31 point total for the evening.

Kelby Bruner had the hot hand for the ‘Jackets down the stretch, knocking down five shots from the field for the fourth. He and Panther shooter Weissert exchanged deep shots, ratcheting up the crowd’s excitement.

Mineola led 66-60 with 2:15 in regulation when Weissert fouled out, a blow for the Alba-Golden attack; Will Hartin subbed in and buried a shot on his first possession.

Two consecutive Panther steals were answered on the other end by two ‘Jacket blocks by Fischer, briefly halting the hopes of the home crowd.

Chadwick was fighting to the rim but couldn’t get a shot to fall; despite drawing contact, he was unable to get to the free throw line, which he usually manages.

Tim Mitchell came up big for Alba-Golden with 80 seconds to go, closing the gap to 66–64 with a baseline drive.

Bruner continued to hit his jumper and Mineola soon secured a six-point edge again, which proved insurmountable for the Panthers.

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