JOHNSTOWN — Colin Kowalski didn’t know if the ball would end up in his hands, but he was ready the instant it did.
The Fonda-Fultonville boys’ basketball team was determined to hold for the last shot of the second overtime against Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons in Tuesday’s Western Athletic Conference Cup game at Fulton-Montgomery Community College. Jackson Atty dribbled the ball near half-court until the final few seconds, and when he eventually started his drive, Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons quickly brought a double team.
Atty got the ball to Angelo Canale, who thought about driving before firing a cross-court pass to Kowalski, whose hair-trigger release beat both the shot clock and the buzzer.
Nothing but net.
“The clock was running down, [Canale] got the ball on the wing and saw an opportunity,” Kowalski said a few minutes after being mobbed by his teammates when his buzzer-beating 3-pointer gave Fonda-Fultonville a 51-48 win. “I faded to the other wing. We noticed they were doubling [Atty], so that would leave me open. [Canale] found me with a good pass, got it to me and I knocked it down.”
The wild ending to a grind-it-out game where the two teams combined for just 23 points between the fourth quarter and both overtime sessions left Fonda-Fultonville coach Eric Wilson dumbstruck.
“I don’t know how we did that one,” Wilson said.
When Fonda-Fultonville (16-4) got the ball with 36.2 seconds left, Wilson debated for a moment whether to call a play for a quick look at the basket, but instead opted to keep the ball in Atty’s hands and play for a final shot.
“I said, ‘You know what? This is it. We’re going to go to another [overtime] or we’re going to get something here,’” Wilson said. “I wanted the ball in Jackson’s hands, and he proved right there that it was a smart call by me to keep it in his hands. I knew he’d make the right play.”
Atty, Fonda-Fultonville’s all-time boys’ basketball scoring leader, drew constant pressure from Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons (17-3) defenders — usually Noah Foster or Nacier Hundley — throughout the night.
Atty was limited to just nine points on the night, but Wilson praised the way his senior star managed the game through 40 minutes of intense pressure.
“I thought it was one of his best games as a point guard,” Wilson said. “He took care of the ball, he got down the lane and found guys. To have that type of pressure on him all game, I couldn’t be prouder of the way he played.”
John Mancini scored 15 points and Kowalski scored 14 for the Braves.
Fonda-Fultonville trailed by as many as nine points in the first half, but battled to get within 28-26 at halftime and took a 38-36 lead heading to the fourth quarter.
That’s when offense took a holiday.
Fonda-Fultonville went up 41-36 on a Kowalski 3-pointer with 6:20 left in the fourth, but didn’t score again in regulation. Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons managed to tie it up with 4:18 to play, but didn’t score in regulation after that.
After a tightly-played first overtime ended at 45-45, Kowalski’s shot finally broke the stalemate.
“It was definitely a battle, for sure,” Kowalski said. “Coach said it felt like the game went forever. At the end there, he said, ‘Keep playing. I’m proud of you guys, no matter what.’ We kept fighting.”
Hundley scored a game-high 18 points and Todd Williamson scored 10 for Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons.
Fonda-Fultonville 8 18 12 3 4 6—51
Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons 14 14 8 5 4 3—48
Fonda-Fultonville scoring: Canale 2-0-4, Shaw 1-0-2, Cusack 1-0-3, Atty 2-4-9, Weaver 1-0-2, Kowalski 5-0-14, Mancini 7-1-15, Georgia 0-2-2. Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons scoring: Foster 3-0-7, Hundley 5-6-18, Carmon 1-0-3, Blasquez 1-1-4, Williamson 3-3-10, Willis 2-0-4, Quinones 1-0-2. Scoring totals: Fonda-Fultonville 19-7-51, Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons 16-10-48.