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Monties Route Burke

By Frank Rizzo
MONTICELLO — February 15, 2000 -- Thanks to his team’s best effort of the season, Monticello coach Dick O’Neill played master to his former assistant and protégé, John S. Burke’s Kevin Bach.
“This was their reward for all their hard work this season,” O’Neill said after his Panthers demolished Burke 73-51 on Thursday night. “Even if we play in the state finals we can’t play any harder than we did tonight. You can’t get a better physical effort than this.”
It was the first league loss of the season for the visiting Eagles, who still top the Orange County League (OCL) National Conference Division I standings (see below).
“Dick’s kids wanted it more,” acknowledged Bach, who was hired by O’Neill when the latter was coaching Burke back in the late ’70s. “They outhustled us right from the start, and they took it to us.”
Aside from an early 4-4 tie, the Monties led the entire game, often by double digits.
The hosts briefly stumbled in the second quarter. A 3-pointer by center John DeGroat put them up 32-15 with 3:27 left. Burke then closed the quarter with eight straight points, putting the Monties within reach.
“They went to a 1–3–1 zone and we settled for staying on the perimeter, and did not attack the basket,” O’Neill explained.
Further, the Monties shot a meager 4-for-17 (24 percent) in the stanza, compared to 24/40 (60 percent) the other three quarters.
Burke put on a semblance of a run late in the third quarter, when Pat Schultz sank one of his five 3-pointers to bring the Eagles within 40-34 with 2:28 remaining.
Monticello responded with a pair of free throws by DeGroat and a long jumper by Jason Campbell to up the lead to 10 points at the buzzer.
DeGroat and “super sub” Chris Robinson proceeded to devastate Burke in the fourth. DeGroat sank 4/5 shots, including a 3-pointer (all but one of his shots came from the outside) and made 5/7 from the foul line to net 14 points in the stanza.
Robinson scored the first two buckets of the quarter to extend the lead and finished with 10 of his 11 points in the frame.
Monticello made 15/21 (71 percent) shots from the charity stripe, and was 14/19 in the second half and 10/15 in the final quarter.
“You have to meet Burke’s intensity with your own, and their intensity starts with their coach,” O’Neill noted. “We took them out of what they wanted to do. Tonight we were in control.”
DeGroat finished with a season-high 33 points and added nine rebounds.
“We don’t have real size and DeGroat’s a good player,” Bach said. “He hit a lot of outside shots tonight, which did not happen the first time we played them.”
The Monties lost to Burke 59-46 back on January 18.
“(DeGroat) had a great first half in that game, but disappeared in the second half,” O’Neill recalled. “I told him, ‘This time you won’t disappear.’”
Jermaine Harris contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Campbell and Robinson had 11 points each.
Schultz paced Burke with 23.
“Our defense won this one,” O’Neill said. “It was by far the most satisfying game of the year.”

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