Mount Mercy captures Colpoys title with win over Sweet Home
Balys saved the day for Mt.Mercy when she sank a basket with 30 seconds to play to force overtime, as Mt. Mercy would go on to score a thrilling come-from-behind 42-39 OT win over Sweet Home in the title game of the 27th Matt Colpoys Memorial Tournament
that was played at Kenmore West on Dec. 29.
Colpoys was one of five Buffalo Firefighters who lost their lives while battling the explosion/fire at the corner of North Division and Grosvenor Streets on Dec. 27,1983.
Balys, a junior who scored four of her six of her points in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter to spark the Magic's comeback, is one of Colpoys great-nieces.
"I feel like he was on the court running with me helping me through this," Allison Balys said. "And when I tied the game to go into overtime with 30-something seconds left, that was him. That wasn't me, that was him. I looked up and I'm like 'that was him! and (the team) was like who? Uncle Matt!'"
With a smile Olivia Balys, a freshman, confirmed that Allison did indeed speak those fateful words at the Magic bench after her bucket tied the game at 34-34.
"She made that layup to tie the game and she said that was for my uncle Matt," Mercy coach John Glose said after the game.
Allison said that she felt the wins was not only for her uncle Matt, but was so very meaningful to the entire family. Especially her grandfather Don Colpoys who took the loss of his brother Matt very hard.
Though they obviously never had the chance to meet their uncle Matt, the Balys girls have heard stories about his bravery and how he gave his life in the line of duty have inspired Allison and Olivia their entire lives.
"I hear from my grandfather and my mom (Jeanine Colpoys-Balys) all about (Matt). How a sacrificed his life to save the people in the fire," Olivia Balys said. "It's an inspiration to me that he sacrificed his life, he gave himself so I try to do my best."
The victory was Mt. Mercy's first Colpoys title overall and its first since 2004 when the Heather Turner led Magic won its fourth consecutive Colpoys crown.
Early on though it looked as if the title game would be all Sweet Home as the Panthers jumped to a 13-2 opening run that was fueled by Hannah Hodges (eight points).
The Magic never lost faith, but more importantly they never lost composure as a group.
Mt. Mercy took a collective deep breath and used the foundation of playing its traditional strong defense as the catalyst for the comeback.
"We know as a team that we have to come together, play tough defense. That's the way we're gonna win our games," Allison Balys said."And then we work on our offense. I had all my faith in my team. We go through everything together. So I knew it was going to be interesting. I knew it was going to be a tough game. When we were down, I knew we were going to come back. I have faith in my teammates and we make things interesting."
The Magic methodically chipped away the Panthers lead, thanks to 16 points from Emily Sheehan and a blood-and-guts effort from Kerry McGough who battled for every inch of the court and no doubt has the black and blue marks as proof of her bravery.
"They work their butts off," Glose said. "Kerry plays forward and she's only 5-foot-5. She's always guarding girls bigger than her and she just doesn't care."
Feeling his team has been up and down so far, Sweet Home coach Matt LaRoach was hoping a title win would get his girls on the road to the consistency they will need in the playoffs.
When it was said and done LaRoach had to tip his cap to the Magic for a gutsy effort.
"We had tired legs down the stretch," LaRoach said. "When we needed baskets, we couldn't finish our shots. I think Mercy did a really nice job, they just kept their composure the whole game."
Jim and Jeanine Balys as well as Matt's widow, Marylou, were among the Colpoys family members at the title game.
Wearing a big smile as she clutch the championship trophy close you just know Allison Balys, in her heart and mind, was passing it with pride to her uncle Matt.