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Monties Gain Revenge


Democrat Photo by Frank Rizzo

SKY HIGH: Chris Robinson of Monticello, right, soars over Goshen defender Nathan deGoade for two points in Thursday’s 60-48 win by Monticello, a win which clinched a sectionals spot for the Panthers. Robinson, 5-foot-9, has the ability to stuff the basketball.

By Frank Rizzo
MONTICELLO — February 22, 2000 -- Plotting this season on a graph, a low point for the Monticello boys’ basketball team might have come on February 2, when they lost to Goshen at the buzzer, 58-55.
That dropped their Orange County League (OCL) National Conference Division I record to 1–3 and put the Monties at a small risk of missing the playoffs for the first time in coach Dick O’Neill’s 15-year tenure — though O’Neill claimed he never doubted that his team would be in the playoffs.
Monticello got its revenge and also clinched a sectionals spot against the same Goshen Gladiators on Thursday night, winning 60-48 to cop its fourth straight league win and improve to 5–4 in divisional play.
The only time Goshen was ahead in that first encounter was at the buzzer, when Todd Whitehead sank a 3-pointer. The Gladiators overcame a 15-point halftime lead by the Panthers.
Thursday night the same template seemed to be in the offing.
The host Panthers jumped out to a 16-8 advantage after one stanza and continued to double up the visitors in the second, going into the locker room up 32-16.
Chris Robinson provided his usual lift off the bench for the home team. The 5-9 soph combined with 6-5 soph center John DeGroat for a roof-raising alley-oop combo. Then he ended the quarter with a three-point play to give Monticello the “Big M” at the break.
DeGroat opened the third with a lay-up, and Jason Campbell followed with a jumper to give Monticello its biggest lead, 36-16.
Then Campbell picked up his third and fourth fouls on consecutive plays, and after he sat down at 4:42 of the third, Goshen began — coincidentally or not — slicing the lead.
The Gladiators went on a 20-3 run to end the stanza down just 39-36.
Asked about that comeback afterwards, Goshen coach Joe Guarnieri said, “We’re just too good a team and have too much pride to go down like that.”
More concretely, “We put in a quicker lineup, and our press and intensity picked up. Also, Mike O’Donnell came off the bench and sparked us,” Guarnieri said.
O’Donnell was unstoppable in the third, scoring 11 of his 14 points.
“We lost faith in each other (during that stretch),” O’Neill commented. “We panicked a bit, and our defense was lacking. I took a chance putting Jason (Campbell) in with four fouls, but he turned the tide. He was a calming influence.”
Campbell stopped O’Donnell, who was shut out in the final stanza as the visitors could get no closer than 42-40.
A three-point play by DeGroat, a putback by DeGroat, and a big 3-pointer by Scott Coddington in a 1:13 span gave the Monties a comfortable 54-42 lead with 3:19 left.
“To their credit they sucked it up and stopped our run,” Guarnieri said of the Panthers. “Dick called a couple of good time outs and settled them down.”
“Sometimes we do more to hurt ourselves than the other team does,” O’Neill commented.
The Panthers close out the regular league season tomorrow night against James I. O’Neill at Highland Falls.
“I feel good that we already qualified for sectionals, that we don’t need to go to O’Neill having to win,” O’Neill noted.
DeGroat led the Monties with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocked shots.
Campbell had 16 points, five assists and two steals.
Robinson added eight while Ed Motl scored seven points, including what O’Neill called two key buckets early in the fourth.
Coddington had six assists and Jermaine Harris, who snared 10 rebounds, earned O’Neill’s praise for his all-around play.

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