SYRACUSE Beaver River senior Adam Schneider just shook his head. I have no answer, he said. I thought we had a great week of practice.
Likewise, head coach Lynn Petzoldt was at a total loss to explain his clubs such poor start Saturday. Id have bet wed come out really strong and ready to play, he said.
But the Beavers that took the floor in Saturdays Class C quarterfinal against Moravia looked nothing like the team that rolled through the Section 3 playoffs and fell 64-42 at Onondaga Community Colleges SRC Arena.
Beaver River dug itself a 19-point first-quarter hole from which it could not escape, and took the long bus ride home knowing their season had ended instead of achieving the schools first trip to the state Final Four.
Moravia senior Dylan Powers scored 24 points as the Section 4 champion Blue Devils (21-2) jumped on the Beavers (21-2) in the opening eight minutes and then basically held the status quo the rest of the way to earn a state semifinal date in Glens Falls this Friday against Lake George of Section 2.
A long Moravia run, which eventually grew to 20 straight points, was fueled by 10 Beaver River turnovers and blistering shooting. That helped turn a 10-6 Moravia lead midway through the first quarter into a 25-6 edge at the quarter break and a 30-6 advantage just 2 1/2 minutes into the second quarter.
The Beavers never fully recovered from their poorest quarter of the season, although they actually outscored the Blue Devils 36-34 the rest of the game.
You couldnt put your finger on just one thing because we did everything wrong that first quarter, said Petzoldt, whose club saw its 18-game winning streak snapped. Our zone defense was slow, our press was almost nonexistent, we didnt move the ball well on offense and we didnt get back well in transition. That team was good, but 23 points better than us? I dont think so.
Beaver River actually scored the first four points of the game, and was within 10-6 after an Alex Hall layup. But the Beavers did not score again until nearly six minutes later, at the 6:23 mark of the second quarter. By that time, they trailed by 22 points.
That first quarter we just had no intensity, and there is no excuse for that, said Hall, who was the lone Beaver River standout with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Wed been winning all of those hustle plays, but not today. On offense, they just took us out of our rhythm and wouldnt allow our shooters many good looks.
Beaver River turned the ball over on five straight possessions late in the first quarter, and Moravia scored after every single one. A Powers 3-pointer and a Chase Walker follow shot built the Moravia lead to 30-6 early in the second quarter as the large Beaver River contingent could not believe what they were seeing.
Moravia led 38-17 at halftime. And although the Beavers threatened to get within striking distance a few times in the third quarter, the Blue Devils always had an answer.
That was a really good team, so no, theres no way I thought it would be that easy, said Moravia coach Todd Mulvaney. Actually, I was really scared because they had so many weapons. But I thought my kids defended their butts off and just took them out of their offensive flow early in the game.
Beaver River had relied on the 3-point shot to open things up most of the year. The Beavers made 10 3-pointers in each of the last two sectional games and averaged eight threes in the Section 3 playoffs.
But Moravias aggressive man-to-man defense held the Beavers to only two 3-pointers, and one of them came in the final seconds of the game.
They really pushed out on us on defense, like South Jefferson did, Petzoldt said of the only other team to beat his club this season. There werent many open looks anywhere.
Senior Samuel Widrick, averaging nearly 20 points per game in the postseason, was limited to just seven. And Petzoldts other two hot shooters, Zack Steiner and Tarren Farney, missed all seven of their 3-pointers.
If we had hit two or three 3-pointers, that might have opened things up inside a little more, said Hall, who had seven of the 12 Beaver River 2-point baskets. But today, it just wasnt our day.
Six-foot-7 Chandler Benson added 12 points and freshman Jared Lyon scored 11 for Moravia.
Schneider said despite the loss, I think weve helped build the Beaver River program back up. The juniors and freshmen and sophomores watched how we played and, hopefully, learned a lot. And our modified program has been the best its been in years.