With less than two minutes left, Nesbitt was fouled and went to the line. He knocked down the first free throw and the crowd stood up. In a brief moment of tense silence, Nesbitt went through the simple motions he had performed 40 times before this season. Nesbitt bent his knees, raised his arms and shot, rattling in number two. The crowd went wild. Dal “The Sniper” Nesbitt scored his 32nd point of the night, and the 1,000th of his career as a Twin Valley Wildcat. To Nesbitt, it’s just another point of pride to add to a remarkable senior year. “I didn’t think it was a realistic goal until last season when I began to realize I could score a high amount,” said Nesbitt, who came into the season with 668 career points to his name.“ It couldn’t have been in a better atmosphere in terms of the way our season’s going. It just makes it that much better. Even without 1,000 points I would be happy.”
While Nesbitt has etched his name into his school’s sporting history, he would rather let the world know it wasn’t his achievement alone. It was the product of good teammates, including his brother Cade, and Colin Lozito, Twin Valley’s all-time assist leader. Together, Nesbitt and Lozito created a lethal one-two punch in soccer that helped bring a state championship to Wilmington, a success that has carried through to the hardwood. “They set me up and let me shoot so I have to thank them, we make each other better.”
Coach Chris Brown said that Nesbitt’s 1,000th point is an example of his all-around dedication to the sport, and being a team player. “I can’t say enough about Dal,” said Brown. “He started as a freshman and he was this tiny kid on the court, but you could see those flashes of brilliance early on. He’s blossomed into an aggressive offensive player, and his defense gets overlooked sometimes. He’s an unselfish player though and he shoots a lot by design, but if he’s not open he doesn’t force shots.”
Nesbitt’s moment of glory would be the cap on a wild game against the visiting Golden Horde. With only one loss to their name, the Wildcats realize they have a big target on their backs heading toward the playoffs, but once again they persevered through a tough first half to get a win.
The Golden Horde led 19-17 after one, and continued to hold the Wildcats to a shootout in the first half. The ‘Cats gave extra defensive attention to scorers Jordan Pease and Joey Callahan all night, forcing shots from elsewhere, and those shots all seemed to find the net in the first 16 minutes. But Twin Valley was hitting their shots proficiently too. If the ‘Cats had had a stagnant night shooting, the Golden Horde could have run away with the game in the offensively driven first half, but Twin Valley kept the pace and found themselves ahead at the end of two, following a nine-point quarter from junior Sam Molner.
As they have the entire year, the Wildcats busted loose in the third quarter, starting with a 13-0 run that included three three-pointers from Nesbitt. Twin Valley would lead by as much as 19 in the quarter, using great defense, and a cold quarter of shooting by the Horde to pull ahead. Down 61-45 after three, the Golden Horde looked all but finished, but resilience kicked in and a scoring drought early in the fourth by the Wildcats allowed the Horde to sneak up to 70-61. Seven points from Pease would not be enough to lead a rally, however, and Twin Valley was able to finish a historic night with a home-crowd win.
Brown said that while continuing to win is nice, he’s not comfortable allowing an opponent 67 points. “If we were cold offensively, they would have built a hefty lead,” said Brown. “Our offensive prowess kept up with theirs, but late in the playoffs, defense is what will have to win it for us.”
Molner finished with 15 points, while Lozito achieved a double-double with 15 points and 11 assists, and Molner led rebounders with eight.
TV 87 Black River 49
Twin Valley had a depleted squad Monday night, with three players unable to dress, but it could have been worse: Black River only had five players.
Twin Valley spent Monday night working on their offense fundamentals, and getting their bench players ready for the impending playoffs as well with line changes every four minutes. Each combination of players seemed to click as Twin Valley pounded the Presidents with a season-high 87 points. Colin Lozito took the game into his own hands, living up to his nickname “the great facilitator,” Lozito racked up 10 assists, and went off on a much needed scoring frenzy of 30 points. Lozito became the first player in the Twin Valley era to reach 500 assists in his career.
Justin Hicks had the best game of his career, taking the opportunity to fire off four three-pointers, knocking down three, en route to a 15-point night. Dylan Johnson also hit the first three-pointer of his season, along with two more field goals for seven points. Twin Valley had 31 assists on 40 field goals made, while Eli Park led the Wildcats 37-rebound night with eight boards.
Black River played tough, and with pride, even though they were outgunned, had no substitutes, and had freshman starters in the mix. But Twin Valley was able to take advantage of this and used the game as a practice for all nine of their active players. “The game Monday night had to focus on the fundamentals and not creating any bad habits. They did a good job, took no shortcuts, but I still got on them about letting up on defense” said coach Chris Brown. Tonight the boys host Poultney at 7 in a much anticipated rematch.