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Northern Tier Sports Report
ROME — A fast start had Northeast Bradford in control early but the combination of mixing in new parts, getting younger players up to speed and the lack of practice caught up to them as they lost to Sayre 55-49 in their season opening NTL Division-II boys’ basketball game Monday.

“We have some new pieces, and, we’re not quite there yet,” said Panther coach Paul Burgert.

It didn’t help that they were missing two starters as well.

“Missing (Dan) Williams and (Julian) Jampo really hurt our depth,” remarked Burgert.

They got some reinforcements as Nick Beers, North Rome Christian School’s standout from the past few seasons, had 25 points, seven boards, two steals and two blocks for the Panthers. NRCS’s season was cancelled so four of their players from last year are now playing for NEB.

Dan Seeley also had a strong game with 18 points to go with two points and two boards.

But their lack of cohesion and experience led to turnovers and defensive breakdowns that Sayre took advantage of. They also struggled shooting the ball outside the paint, allowing Sayre to crash Beers and Seeley inside in the second half.

The Redskins had 10 steals during the contest and hit eight 3-balls overall, while NEB had just one 3-pointer made. Sayre returned much of their team that made the state playoffs a year ago and it showed the longer the game went on.

“Part of that is a lack of reps, lack of gym time,” said Burgert. “Hopefully, we’ll get that going.”

Lucas Crown had five points, three boards and two assists while Ethan Finch finished with three points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.

For Sayre Lucas Horton had 20 points, three assists and two blocks while Dom Fabbri added 11 points, including three 3-pointers in the third quarter, to go with four assists and two steals.

Connor Young had eight points and seven rebounds inside for the Redskins as Zach Moore finished with six points. Josh Arnold and Zach Garrity chipped in with three points a piece while Jackson Hubbard finished with one point.

It was all NEB early as Beers had his way with Sayre inside. He scored their first six points and assisted on their next two for a 10-5 lead. Another bucket from Beers made it 12-5 just after the halfway point of the first quarter.

A Seeley bucket would push it to 14-5 before Sayre responded with back to back scores from Young and Horton down low.

Crown went 1-of-2 from the charity stripe for a 15-9 NEB lead at the quarter break.

Beers had eight points and two assists in that first quarter for the Panthers, to go along with an emphatic block from behind, as they looked in complete control.

A Seeley bucket to start the second quarter gave the Panthers their eight point lead but they went cold after that.

Sayre took advantage, beginning with back to back lay-ups from Young and Horton. Horton then hit a 3-ball off a Lane assist to cut it to 17-16 halfway through the quarter.

Horton gave Sayre their first lead on a lay-up just after the four minute mark of the second quarter. After that Lane would go 1-of-2 from the line to make it 19-17.

A Crown put back tied the game up at 19-19 all.

The two teams would then trade scores, with Sayre holding a 23-22 lead. That’s when Fabbri found Garrity for a 3-ball late in the quarter to take the 26-23 halftime lead.

The Panthers came out strong in the second half as they got back to back buckets from Beers and Crown to knot the game up at 26-all.

A Horton lay-up gave Sayre the lead back, but only momentarily, as a pair of freebies from Seeley made it 28-28 again.

That’s when the Redskins went on a little run, beginning with another Horton lay-up. Fabbri then hit a 3-ball followed by back to back free throws from Lane as they raced out to a 35-28 lead.

NEB responded as Finch hit their only 3-ball of the night to cut it to 35-31. Sayre shot back Horton made it 37-31 with a lay-up at the other end.

The Panthers then had back to back buckets to cut it to 37-35. A Fabbri 3-ball, his second of the quarter, pushed Sayre back up by five but Seeley responded with a lay-up to cut it to a one possession game again. 

Beers hit a put back with under a minute to go in the third to cut it to 40-39 but Fabbri had the last answer, hitting his final three-pointer at the buzzer to put Sayre up 43-39.

Right out of the gates in the fourth quarter Arnold hit a 3-pointer for Sayre to make it 46-39.

Beers cut it to 46-43 with back to back lay-ups but, late in the quarter, Sayre would extend their lead to 9-points as they scored six straight. It was Horton doing most of the damage, getting a lay-up, then nailing a 3-ball for the 52-43 lead with just minutes to play.

Beers hit a lay-up to cut it to 52-45 but with just over a minute left, but they needed to foul, and Sayre was good enough from the line down the stretch, 3-for-6, to pull out the win.

One good thing was that the masks didn’t seem to impede play much, as a lot of the miscues by either team were typical early season bugs that need to be worked out.

“I don’t think masks were a problem,” said Burgert.

NEB, now 0-1 on the year, hosts another tough contest on Friday with Canton, then they travel to Athens on Saturday.

Luckily, Burgert has some time to work out the kinks before then.

“We got three (practices) in a row this week,” he said. “So we’ve got a lot of stuff to do.”

CUTLINE: NEB’s Nick Beers drives to the basket against Sayre…PHOTOS BY CHRIS MANNING

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