ORWELL - With both the Mathews Mustangs and Grand Valley Mustangs coming off tough losses, it figured the teams would battle on even terms in their Northeastern Athletic Conference matchup Tuesday night.
With neither team gaining more than a four-point edge the entire game - 15 ties and 23 lead changes - it's no surprise it all came down to a debated foul call with two seconds left and a tie score. Kyle Orgovan was fouled under the basket, and the GV senior guard calmly stepped to the line and hit the first of a one and one free throw opportunity to give his team a thrilling 57-56 win over Mathews.
"It's been the tale of our season," GV coach Luke Strohm said. "When we stay focused and concentrate on the task at hand in games, we are very capable of winning. We did not do that in our last game at Southington, and we got thumped."
Mathews twice held four point leads in the first half, but it could not shake GV for more than a minute or two.
The key factor in Grand Valley's favor was a solid night shooting, built around patient passing and attacking. Good rebounding late in the game also kept Mathews from getting multiple shots off.
GV put a trio of players into double digits in scoring. Jake Vormelker 17 points, Gabe Kovats supplied 13 in a starting role for Strohm and Orgovan tallied 11. Josh Kovats added seven, and Stanley Sirrine had six.
A key point was that both of the latter players did all their scoring in the second half to offset a smothering effort by Mathews (3-6, 2-3) on Vormelker in the second half. He scored 11 in the first half, but saw at least two and sometimes three black jerseys more than he saw the ball in the second half.
Aaron Suchanek led the way for coach Jason Lee with 15 points. Cobie Pratt and Andy Morgan, the latter battling foul trouble much of the night, each scored nine. It was Morgan's absence in the paint that allowed GV to get to the hoop for many high percentage shots.
"My kids played very hard tonight," Lee said. "We were much sharper and more consistent than we were at PV the other night."