Sullivan County Democrat
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Democrat Photo by Frank Rizzo

OPEN LANE: Craig Vandermark of Eldred finds a seam in the Chapel Field defense to go up for a lay-up in Tuesday’s quarterfinal. Teammate Jason Rondenelli watches, along with Chapel Field’s Dorian Mullings (12). The visiting Lions prevailed 51-43.

Eldred Loses to Chapel Field

By Frank Rizzo
ELDRED — March 3, 2000 -- Everything that went right in the first half went south in the second, leading Eldred to a disappointing 51-43 loss to visiting Chapel Field Tuesday night in a Class D quarterfinal game.
The fourth-ranked Yellow Jackets rode the high-pitched partisan crowd to a 29-19 halftime lead over the fifth-ranked Lions.
The hosts began to take control late in the first quarter, going on a 9-2 run in the last three minutes to take a 15-8 lead at the buzzer.
Their first-half dominance reached its apogee at the 3:29 mark of the second frame, when Steve Milisauskas launched an arcing corner jump shot that a wildly-anticipatory chorus of shouts almost willed to go in.
That put the Yellow Jackets up 27-13, the biggest lead of the night.
While Milisauskas, Craig Vandermark, and Ryan Jasper did damage from the outside, Jason Rondenelli was wreaking havoc in the paint with seven close-range points in the second quarter. Eldred was dominating the boards and holding the Lions mainly to one shot per trip.
Everything changed in the second half as Eldred’s offense went cold. More ominously, the Lions began penetrating almost at will.
By the close of the third stanza the visitors had cut the margin to 38-37.
The fourth was even worse. An early 3-pointer by Jasper and a close jumper by Vandermark was all the scoring the Yellow Jackets could manage.
Chapel Field held a 14-5 scoring advantage in the fourth quarter (and 32-14 in the second half).
“We knew it was important to start getting some boards,” said Chapel Field’s Chris Vellenga, who led all scorers with 16 points. “They were killing us in the first half. We weren’t discouraged at all (by the first half deficit). We knew (the Yellow Jackets) were a jump shooting team, and eventually their legs would give out in the second half.”
According to Chapel Field coach Bill Spanjer, “We were rushing our shots and not being patient in the first half. It was their gym, and a big night, so I knew they’d have that burst. We wanted to wear them out.”
Chapel Field will meet John A. Coleman in a semifinal tonight at Sullivan County CC in Loch Sheldrake. Coleman upset top-seeded Jeff-Youngsville in another quarterfinal (see related story).
“Once things started going downhill, we had a difficult time,” said Eldred coach Charlie Donnelly. “When we started struggling to put the points on the board, it took a bounce out of us defensively.
“It’s all about confidence, and it affected our offense and defense. The bit (of confidence) we lost on defense hurt us and they started taking advantage of it,” Donnelly added.
Jasper led Eldred (10–9) with 10. Milisauskas and Rondenelli had nine each and Vandermark added eight.
Siglin (13) and Dorian Mullings (12) also hit double figures for the Lions (11–10).
“I have a lot of respect for our kids,” Donnelly reflected. “We developed into a tough (team for others to beat) and got better as the year went by.”
Perhaps just being in the playoffs was enough “icing” for the ninth-year varsity coach, when he considered the lack of experience his squad started out with.
“You never expected us to be here, right?” he asked a reporter before the game.

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