Sullivan County Democrat
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Democrat Photo by Frank Rizzo

BREEZING PAST: Roscoe’s Shawn Hendrickson slips past Michael Stephenson of Tri-Valley in Wednesday’s game. Adam Moore (3) looks on.

Tri-Valley Wins WSL Boys'
Basketball Title

By Frank Rizzo
ROSCOE — February 25, 2000 -- What he could not achieve as a player, Jason Semo gained as a coach: a Western Sullivan League boys’ basketball title.
Tri-Valley downed host Roscoe 85-73 on Wednesday night before a packed and raucous house to win its first league title since 1997.
The first-year coach of the Tri-Valley Bears climbed the ladder to cut the netting from the Roscoe CS gym backboard hoop. It was the same net his coach and predecessor, Andy Taggart, had put up after the Bears clinched the ’96 title in the same gym.
That had been the second of three straight WSL crowns for TV, a streak which began the year after Semo graduated from the school in 1994.
“We were competitive, but never put it together,” Semo said of his early ’90s Bear teams.
The reality of his dream, he related, hit him when he stood at the top of the ladder and his squad and the numerous T-V fans on hand started clapping.
“I felt pride for them. They earned it,” Semo said of his team. “They had to get used to a new coach. I’m so proud to be a part of it. This team deserved the championship. We had high expectations the whole season.”
Semo also thought of Taggart, and tipped his cap to his mentor: “It didn’t matter who came in and coached this team. It was a great team and Andy Taggart made sure of that. It shows what kind of coach he was, to leave the program at the top.”
The squad, he added, was also the product of the youth movement Taggart had instituted, with youngsters as early as grade school competing on school league squads.
Jason Mizrahi, who netted 24 points for T-V, recalled the 73-68 loss to Narrowsburg on February 11 as the low point of the season.
“We thought we had lost the WSL. Then we found out 15 minutes later that Jeff also lost,” he said.,
Tri-Valley (12–2 WSL) edged Jeff-Youngsville (11–3) in the race. The teams had been tied atop the standings for a while. They both lost their second games that same night. While the Bears were falling to the Indians, J-Y was losing to host Eldred.
T-V center Durk Pearston was on the jayvee the night the Bears won the title. He noted that the squad was close, having played together over the summer in the Sullivan County CC league and also on weekends in pickup games.
Of his young coach Pearston said, “He’s close to our age and could relate to the problems we have. He’s a great person to hang out with.”
Semo thought his squad had flattened a bit after the first league loss, to J-Y on January 28. Afterwards, his team’s margin of victory dropped considerably, and the Bears struggled to beat the Family School, Eldred, and Delaware Valley.
“We got the fire back. We had a great week of practice and are heading in the right direction,” Semo said.
Fast Start
“We had a really good first quarter, and that gave us the cushion,” Semo said of Wednesday’s clincher.
The Bears jumped out in front 21-6 after one quarter, and led 44-25 at the break.
The margin reached 24 points in the second half before a combination of the Roscoe press and renewed offensive vigor by the host team made the final score respectable.
“We fell too far behind to come back, and that’s to (Tri-Valley’s) credit,” said Roscoe coach Fred Ahart. “We played hard and never gave up, and that’s to our credit.”
Arthur Felder paced the Bears with a career-high 26.
“That was the best game of his life,” Semo said of his senior forward, a transfer from Liberty. “He’s been surrounded by a lot of good scorers and sometimes (holds back), but tonight he got his chance and shined.”
Soph center Brian Bury led Roscoe with 20 points (shooting 9-for-14) and 12 rebounds. Mitch Lake, overcoming a season-threatening ankle injury earlier this season, added 17 points and 17 rebounds. Matt Mootz scored 14.

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