December 17, 2013
by Bill Hartlep
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I drove up to Seneca Valley Monday afternoon knowing nothing about the annual Assembly Game against Perry.
What a great experience. From 1-2:30 p.m., there’s an assembly in the gym, and it’s a nonsection basketball game between the two teams.
Seneca Valley’s T.J. Holl wanted to give the home fans a show, and he did exactly that by knocking down a 3-pointer from the right wing with 3 seconds left in overtime to produce a 78-75 win for the Raiders.
“When you have all of the kids from your school watching, you want to impress them,” Holl said. “It’s your school. It’s your friends. A lot of them stayed until the end, so I hope we impressed them and they come out to more games.”
Holl wasn’t kidding. The place was packed.
So crowded and noisy that Perry coach Marco Corona turned around and asked one student what time the final bell rings — so he could figure out when the place might clear out a bit.
They dismissed students during a timeout at 2:26 p.m.; only a fraction left.
Zach Snyder finished with a game-high 26 points for Seneca Valley (4-1). Holl added 18 and eight rebounds, while Matt Darby and Dakota Topf scored 14 points apiece.
Five players reached double figures for Perry (1-3), led by Devin Lyles’ 19 points. Jaewon Mitchell finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. Juwan Byrd had 13, Marcus Dean 12 and Norman Taylor 11.
Perry led, 73-69, lead midway through the extra session after a layup from Mitchell and a baseline jumper from Dean. But Seneca Valley tied it on a floater from Darby and a layup from Topf.
Topf converted a pair of free throws with 26.5 seconds left. Lyles answered with two of his own at 13.9. Then Holl won it — his first-ever game-winning shot.
“They have some good, athletic shooters,” Corona said. “We were prepared for anything, but they made one more play than we did. That’s sometimes how they work out.”
The Commodores led for the entire fourth quarter, though the game was tied on three occasions. One came following Darby’s foul-line jumper with 6 seconds to go.
A short while later, Holl scored to win.
“Thank God,” Snyder said of his reaction to Holl’s shot going down. “You don’t want to lose an Assembly Game.”
The Perry angle
Keep an eye on Perry in the City League. The Commodores are 1-3 right now, but two of those losses have been to Seneca Valley (obviously) and New Castle; they could do worse.
Lyles, Dean and Byrd are returning starters. Mitchell, if he develops even a little bit, could be downright scary for opposing teams.
“He’s real raw,” Corona said of Mitchell. “But he knows his role; he does it well. He’s around the basket, gets the putbacks, blocks shots, gets rebounds, plays defense. That’s all we need him to do right now, and he’s doing OK.”