Syracuse Herald American- Nats, Pistons Meet Today For N.B.A. Title

Syracuse Triumphs, 109 To 104; Kerr And Farley Spark Conquest

There will be no tomorrow in the National Basketball Association playoffs. Today’s game here will be the decisive test. The series was squared as the Nats won a 109-104 thriller before the most rabid audience ever to witness a game at the War Memorial yesterday. There were only 4,997 spectators yesterday but, after the wild and wooly exhibition they witnessed, there will probably be a battle for standing room before the whistle sounds at 3:30 p.m. today. It took the Nats a long while to snap out of their longest slump of the season, and they fell behind by as many as 10 points late in the third period before finally coming to life to send the championship to the wire. In the hectic final quarter the Nats outscored the visitors, 31-20, with the final two points being added by Paul Seymour after the final whistle. But it was two Nat rookies, Johnny Kerr and Dick Farley, who came through with timely buckets after George Yardley sank a three-pointer to knot the count for the eighth time in the final period at 103-all. Pressure mounted at this stage and first Dolph Schayes, then Larry Foust were called for travelling violations. But Kerr eased the anxiety of Syracuse players by pushing in a one-hander from the free throw circle to give the Nats a two-point bulge. Foust missed another try and Schayes followed suit. With 38 seconds remaining Fort Wayne took time out but the maneuver proved their undoing. On the pass from out-of-bounds, Frank Brian missed Andy Phillip and Farley stole the ball. With 1 second left Schayes long set fell off the rim but Farley was Johnny-on-the-spot and tipped in the rebound to send the assemblage into near delirium. There were two near riots and the delegation of motor policeman was needed to quell the uprisings. Perhaps the fights were what were needed to get the Nats’ minds back on basketball, for they battled like Trojans throughout the second half. The count was tied at 42-all late in the second period when the first hassle took place after Bob Houbregs and Wally Osterkorn started battling for a loose ball. Osterkorn fell on the Piston while they tussled. Paul Seymour stepped on Houbregs. Immediately fists started flying and both benches emptied. Spectators swarmed onto the floor and during the melee Seymour sent Borgia flying to the floor with a hard push. When order was restored it was decided to assess a technical foul against each team for leaving the benches. Then at halftime, as the officials were walking to their dressing room, a fan slapped Borgia on the head with a program and another argument was averted when first Frankie Brian and later police interrupted. Fort Wayne, which had checked out of its hotel, yesterday afternoon and had its private plane warmed up to return home for a victory celebration, now must face the prospect of ending a Syracuse jinx which has seen the Zollners winless in 21 straight games here. Syracuse had its share of other heroes, particularly Schayes who led in scoring with 28 points and in rebounds with 12. Four other Nats were in double figures. Kerr finished with 20, including nine field goals, while Lloyd hit 16. Even more encouraging was that Paul Seymour and George King each came through with 15. Game honors went to George Yardley with 31, 18 of them in the first half. Brian, a Nat wrecker in the series, had 24, including some beauts in the final 12 minutes. Mel Hutchins, a scourge to Syracuse defenses in this series, was limited to one basket and two free throws and fouled out in the final quarter. The Nats have no further need to worry over their poor shooting. In the second half they found the hoop for 20 baskets in 45 tries. In all, the club finished with 35 baskets in 86 attempts for a .407 rating while the Zollners connected on 33 of 75 for .440. Seldom have there been more dramatic crises than occurred in the final period. First the Zollners and later the Nats seemed to have the game wrapped up, only to see opponents battle back. Fort Wayne first tallied eight straight points to take a 94-90 lead with Brian getting the last three hoops. At the time the clocked showed seven minutes to play. Lloyd and Brian traded baskets and King clicked on a set shot in the next half-minute. King dropped in another to knot it at 94-all with 6:04 to play and after Yardley sank a pair of free throws Kerr rapped home a Kenville miss to tie it again at 96. Houbregs’ foul toss put Fort Wayne in front again at 97-96 but it was the last time they led. Lloyd drove in for a basket with 4:32 left to give the Cervi-men a one-point edge and it grew to 101-97 with 3:54 remaining. At this stage it seemed hopeless for the Zollners for they had accumulated six personal fouls in the period compared to three by Syracuse. But Fort Wayne wasn’t quitting. Phillip sank a free throw and Foust connected on a basket. Kerr broke the streak, sinking a hook shot with 2:20 remaining to put the Nats in the van, 103-100. Yardley then drove on Farley for a three-pointer to set the scene for the climax. In all the game was tied up 17 times. Syracuse was in front on nine occasions and the Pistons led 10 times. Prior to the finale, the Nats dropped behind, 82-72, with 1:46 to play and then started a late surge as they had done futilely three times on the road. Within one-and-one-half minutes the gap was closed to 82-78 with Kenville netting the first point, Lloyd the next three and Schayes the final two. A 34-point second period kept the Nats in the early running. They had taken a 9-5 lead then dropped behind 27-17, before Kenville revitalized the attack. The second period was only half gone when the Syracusans knotted it at 34, and it was ding-dong to the half which wound up with Fort Wayne in front, 55-53. There is also a trip to California awaiting the winners of the championship if they so desire. Alex Hannum has slated a tour of the Los Angeles-San Francisco area, offering to pay all expenses and adding $25 a day per man to the pot on a guarantee basis. If the gates warrant, an additional split has been offered.

FORT WAYNE: Hutchins (1-2-4), Meineke (3-3-9), Yardley (10-11-31), Rosenthal (1-0-2), Foust (4-3-11), Houbregs (3-6-12), Phillip (3-3-9), Zaslofsky (1-0-2), Brian (7-10-24), Walther (0-0-0) TOTALS (33-38-104). SYRACUSE: Schayes (7-14-28), Rocha (0-2-2), Lloyd (6-4-16), Kerr (9-2-20), Seymour (5-5-15), King (6-3-15), Farley (1-2-4), Kenville (1-6-8), Osterkorn (0-1-1) TOTALS (35-39-109).

Score at halftime- Fort Wayne 55, Syracuse 53.