Sullivan County Democrat
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Democrat Photo by Frank Rizzo

LOOKING FOR JOHN: Monticello’s Scott Coddington passes around James I. O’Neill’s Matt Ardovino (45) in a game earlier this season. John DeGroat, at left, awaits the pass.

'It Was a Better Season
Than I Expected'

By Frank Rizzo
MONTICELLO — March 31, 2000 -- A sub-.500 record does not make for a subpar season, according to Monticello boys’ basketball coach Dick O’Neill.
“We met our expectations, and did a little better than I anticipated,” O’Neill said of the Panthers, who lost four of the five starters from last year’s Orange County League (OCL) National Conference championship squad.
Monticello finished 5–5 in National Conference Division I play this season, and 8–12 overall. Three of the league losses were by three points or less.
Monticello’s season ended in the opening round of the Class B tournament as the Monties dropped a 59-57 overtime game to host Saugerties.
Afterward, Saugerties coach Steven Eggink was quoted in the area daily as commenting of Monticello, “That’s the best 10th seed I’ve ever seen.”
“Class B was wide open, and Cornwall was playing the best going in,” O’Neill said of the eventual sectional champs.
This season marked the emergence of 6-foot-5 soph center John DeGroat, who filled the considerable shoes of 6'-7" Justin Dawson (20 ppg last year).
“I knew John would be good, but not this soon,” said O’Neill. “With normal development he’ll be as good as any player I’ve had.”
DeGroat developed a strong inside game, and led the Panthers with 16.5 points and just a shade under 10 rebounds per game, along with 52 blocks and a field goal percentage of 52.4 .
Senior Jason Campbell reprised his starting role from a season before “and a had a real good year,” according to O’Neill.
Campbell was the second leading scorer (10.6 ppg) and from his point guard spot led the offense with 68 assists.
O’Neill thought senior forward Jermaine Harris “would not last the season, but he became very committed and focused. He played four positions and filled a lot of holes for us.”
Harris was third on the team in scoring (7.6 ppg), second in field goal percentage (46.5) and second in rebounding (6.8 pg) and assists (2.4 pg).
Ed Motl “was one of my more consistent players,” said O’Neill.
The junior forward averaged 6.7 ppg and led the team by making 24/33 from the foul line (72.7 percent).
O’Neill said that senior guard Scott Coddington “was going to be my sixth man, but he got better and better and forced me to start him.”
Coddington led the Monties by making 9/23 from 3-point range (39.1 percent) and his 51 assists were second on the team.
Chris Robinson, a 5-9 soph forward, came off the bench to shake things up. Though he averaged just 4.0 ppg, Robinson came up big in mid-season wins over James I. O’Neill (12 points) and John S. Burke (11 points).
“He’ll be a star. He can really be spectacular at times,” O’Neill said of Robinson, who can stuff the ball. “Chris can do a lot of things and athletically, he’s got all the skills.”

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