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Westfield boys lose on last-second shot

January 8, 2016
By Cody Crandall ( , Westfield Republican

PANAMA (Jan. 4)- Be it Chris Blose, Josh Eddy, Josh Odell or Jack Payne, Panama has proven throughout this season that it has a multitude of options in terms of scoring on the offensive end of the court.

One name you don't hear a lot is Jarett Yuchnitz.

Heading into Monday's Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association West 2 matchup against Westfield, Yuchnitz was only averaging 0.8 points per game.

Article Photos

Photo by Cody Crandall
Westfield’s Jonathen Wilson (13) shoots a 3-pointer over Panama’s Tristen Frye (10) on Monday.

But Monday, it was a huge shot from the senior guard that made all of the difference for the Panthers.

With 3.4 seconds left and Westfield clinging to a 59-58 lead, Yuchnitz stepped up and buried a 3-point shot, his only basket of the game, to cap off an incredible 19-point second half comeback for Panama and give the Panthers a thrilling 61-59 win over Westfield.

"I look on the stat sheet every day and Jarett usually attempts one shot a game," said Panama (7-2, 4-0) coach Ed Nelson following his team's improbable victory. "In practice, the kid busts his butt. We do a ton of shooting drills and he's out there doing them all game speed every single day. I kind of had a feeling driving to the game today that he was going to do something special and he certainly did."

After Yuchnitz's clutch basket, Westfield (3-6, 1-2) had an outstanding look at the rim from Trevor North after a long inbound pass. Unfortunately, North - who led the team in scoring with 17 points - couldn't convert, sending the Wolverines to a heart-breaking defeat after they led throughout much of the contest.

"(Panama) made some shots when they needed to make shots," said a dejected Bob North following his team's defeat. "We had one kid (Yuchnitz) we were laying off of and he makes the game-winner. If we are going to get beat, I'm okay with that ... rather than Odell making a 3 or Payne, who already made 3s and we know can shoot it. More power to (Yuchnitz). Great shot."

In the first half, the Wolverines put on a show from beyond the arc to jump out to a commanding 38-23 lead heading into the locker room. In total, Westfield knocked down 10 3-point shots throughout the game's first two quarters, accounting for 30 of their 38 total points.

Eric Fermier led the first-half charge for the Wolverines, scoring 11 points and hitting three 3-pointers, including one just before the second-quarter buzzer to give Westfield its 15-point lead. Jonathen Wilson also connected on three shots from long range in the first half, while Trevor North and Shawn Horr both hit two.

"When we shoot the ball well, we are a good team," Bob North said. "I think (Panama) is as good of a team as there is in Class D. ... We had them on the ropes."

Westfield kept applying pressure at the start of the third quarter.

The Wolverines actually began the quarter on a 12-8 run to extend their lead to 50-31, but that's when Panama began storming back.

In danger of losing their first league game of the season, the Panthers went on an extended 18-2 run throughout the rest of the third and start of the fourth quarter to pull within 52-49 in and put itself right back in the game.

"One thing that helped us out was that Josh Odell got going," Nelson said. "He's been struggling shooting the ball the last couple of games. He came through in that second half and started knocking them down."

After not hitting a shot in the first half, Odell scored 13 second-half points, including three 3-pointers, to help key the Panthers' run. Eddy scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half and Blose added eight of his 15 points throughout the third and fourth quarters as well.

"When we start playing basketball together, we are a much better basketball team," Nelson said when asked about Panama's second-half surge. "We tried working the ball to the high post a little bit more. When we did that, it opened the court up a little bit."

Mike Poletto's old-fashioned 3-point play with 5:18 remaining gave the Wolverines a 55-49 lead. Later in the quarter, with his team trailing by one, 58-57, and just under a minute left, Poletto came through with another huge bucket to give Westfield the lead back at 59-58.

That bucket ultimately set the stage for Yuchnitz's late-game heroics.

"He's always a positive guy," Nelson added about Yuchnitz. "He's always calm, he's always talking, he's always positive with his teammates. He's a great teammate. He always wants to make everybody better every day."

For the Wolverines, even after the last-second loss, Monday's performance is certainly something they can build on as they continue through league play.

"I said coming in, I said (Panama) is the team to beat this year," Bob North explained. "Let's see in their place how we can play. When you come into somebody else's gym and shoot the ball so well, hopefully we can do the same thing (later in the season) at our place and maybe get the win."

Fermier finished with 16 points for Westfield, while Poletto chipped in with 11.

Panama remains undefeated in league play and now finds itself riding a six-game winning streak overall.

Payne led the way in terms of scoring for the Panthers with 16 points. Blose stuffed the stat sheet, scoring 15 points, grabbing nine rebounds and handing out seven assists. Eddy finished with a double-double (12 points and 11 rebounds).

"We've got a never-quit attitude," Nelson said. "We've been in a lot of different situations this year against a lot of good basketball teams. ... I'm proud of them."

NOTES: Panama also won the jayvee game by a score of 59-38. Carter Morse was the top scorer for the Panthers with 15 points while teammate Thomas Delahoy added 13. Evan Houser played well in defeat for Westfield and scored 12 points.



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