Ithaca loses; Warech, Rossi finish strong

Morriscountyvarsityboysbasketball

Despite a strong late rally Middlebury defeated Ithaca College 73-72 in the NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament round of 16 on Saturday in Middlebury, Vt. Former Montville standout Travis Warech led the Ithaca comeback by scoring 19 points. Warech, a senior, also grabbed nine rebounds for the Bombers which finished with a 21-9 record.

Ithaca point guard Sean Rossi of Sparta finished with seven assists, to wrap up his Bomber career with 957 assists. He is the all-time leader in Division III men’s basketball. This was Ithaca’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament round of 16.

A hot-shooting Middlebury team made 14 3-pointers in the game and built a 10-point second-half lead before the Bombers rallied. There were 15 lead changes in the game including eight in the second half.

The last lead change came in the final seconds. Middlebury’s James Jensen hit a pair of free throws to give the Panthers a 71-68 lead with 27 seconds left. Ithaca’s Eli Maravich countered with a layup to make it a one-point game.

Middlebury’s Nolan Thompson was fouled and missed the front end of a one-and-one, and the Bombers went down to get a go-ahead layup from Hillsborough standout Frank Mitchell with eight seconds remaining. Middlebury point guard Joey Kizel drove down court and was fouled. He made both free throws with 1.8 seconds left for the game-winning margin. A three-quarter court shot attempt by Ithaca hit the backboard and bounced away.

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About mcvbb

Mark Kitchin is a boys varsity basketball writer for the Morris County New Jersey area

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