By Dave Ricci
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — CITY OF TONAWANDA — It was the type of game that reminds you just how important a strong start truly is.
Tristan Boling scored 28 as Tonawanda fought off the challenge of a surprisingly scrappy Eden squad to come away with a 52-45 win ECIC IV action hat played at the George H. Miller Gym on Friday night.
Paced by a trio of 3-pointers from Ben Stich (11 points, seven assists) and 10 points from Boling, the Warriors held a commanding 21-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. But even though they had a substantial lead, as a group the Warriors (9-6, 6-3) confessed that they didn't feel as if they had complete control of the game as the score indicated.
Entering the game without a win in league play, the Raiders (2-10, 0-8) proved to be a far more dangerous team than their record would suggest. They played as if they had nothing to lose and battled to the very end.
Eden was also able to take advantage of the situation when 6-foot-5 Tonawanda senior Connor Pumm was hit with his third foul and was forced to come out of the game with 5:50 remaining in the second quarter.
Eden went on a 13-4 run during Pumm's absence as they outscored Tonawanda 19-4 in the quarter and took a 26-25 lead into halftime, thanks to AJ Feldman completing a three-point play.
The Warriors took a collective breath at halftime and knew they had to strike first and get the momentum back in their favor.
“We were just playing lazy, I would say,” Boling said. “Then we just woke up, basically. We knew we just had to wake up. Coach said that they're hungry to win and we've just got to come out and play harder.”
Pumm agreed that as a team they it was crucial for everyone to refocus and play to their strengths.
“We came into the second half and showed the game that would could play,” said Pumm. “I think it was just (about) narrowing our sights and realizing hey we're in a basketball game. We need to play our regular game.”
Pumm (nine points, five rebounds) hit opened the scoring, but Brad Palmerton answered back for the Raiders as he had three 3-pointers among his team-best 17 points. Timely outside shooting helped Eden stay in the game as they sank six from three-point range.
“They had a lot of deep shots,” said Tonawanda coach Hank Hughes. “I didn't think they'd shoot that good (from outside). (Palmerton) had a nice game.”
Boling had the hot hand throughout the game for the Warriors as he sank another 10 points in the third as Tonawanda extended the lead to 38-32.
“(Tristan) did a nice job offensively,” said Hughes. “We started to go to him as part of our game plan after the halftime and he helped us out. He had some nice shots.”
Pumm sank six big points in the fourth and shored up the Warriors defense in the paint, but Eden hung on til the very end as a bucket from Feldman cut the Tonawanda lead to 50-45 with just under a minute to play.
Stich capped off the scoring by going 2 of 2 from the line.
Tonawanda came from behind to score the victory in the JV game, 44-39.