Democrat Photos by Ted Waddell
from upper left: Tim Mills of Livingston Manor
and Felipe Lopez-Mejia of the Family School
tangle; Durk Pearston of Tri-Valley; Jason
Mizrahi of Tri-Valley; and Mike Stephenson of
Second Team All-Stars
By Frank Rizzo
April 11, 2000 -- Western Sullivan League (WSL) boys basketball
coaches picked the following players to the all-star
Craig Vandermark Second
Vandermark scored in double figures just once in the 14
WSL games he appeared in, rarely figuring among his
teams top scorers. And yet, according to Eldred
coach Charlie Donnelly, without him I dont
think we would have made sectionals [the past three
Donnelly related that Vandermark, a three-year starter,
began at the four (power forward) spot as a soph,
and has played every position on our team. Without
his flexibility we could not have been successful.
Theres nothing he wont do. Last year, he even
played center at times hes five-ten,
five-eleven and played it well.
This year, Donnelly added, he played
point guard without any experience, and we needed [him
Craigs quite athletic, has the drive and
wants to win and hes a good student. You
want players like that, Donnelly summed up.
Second Team Senior
The Falcons may not have had a good year (311 WSL),
but it wasnt the fault of Lopez-Mejia, who enjoyed
a solid season.
The second-year starting point guard led his team with
12.5 points, six assists, and four steals per game.
I think the fellow coaches were impressed with
Felipes ballhandling and leadership skills on the
floor, said Family School coach Bill Musgrove.
Musgrove cited a February 1 close loss to Tri-Valley as
Lopezs highlight game. He scored 20 points, 18
after the break, and sank three 3-pointers as the Falcons
Originally from Washington, D.C., Lopez eventually made
his way to the private school near Hancock.
He learned to take better care of the basketball
and matured as a floor general, Musgrove praised,
and added, On the basketball court he works his
heart out, and off the court hes a great kid, one
of my favorites. Hes gentle and kind, fun to be
around, and Ill miss him.
Chris Rodriguez First
We were a team of no stars, but if we had one Chris
was it, Jeff-Youngsville coach Rick Ellison said of
Rodriguez. He was the player everybody looked up
to. He emerged as the team leader in the off
season, he called everyone else to get together and
Rodriguez has been on varsity three years, but he did not
start and shine until his senior year,
leading the team with just over 13 ppg.
It was a real joy seeing Chris working hard and
progressing, said Ellison. He put his heart
and soul into it. Im real proud of and happy for
Two games stood out in Ellisons mind: Rodriguez
scored 14 first-quarter points in a league-opening 83-44
rout of Manor (en route to a season-high 24). A week
later he put on a dominating third quarter to help the
Trojans rout Narrowsburg at the Indians home
court, no less 75-55. (He finished with 20 in that
Rodriguez hopes to attend and play basketball at Ulster
County CC, joining ex-teammate Julio Ortiz.
Tri-Valleys Arthur Felder is also reportedly slated
to go to the neighboring community college.
Tim Mills Second Team Senior
The 6-foot-5 pivot, a three-year starter, came into his
own this year, averaging 21 points and 17 rebounds in WSL
games and leading the Wildcats to their most successful
season in years (410 WSL).
The game of his life came on January 19, when he scored a
school-record 44 points and grabbed 29 rebounds in a
99-82 win over Roscoe. After that, noted first-year Manor
coach Chris Hubert, Mills became a marked man.
They started double-teaming him and we had trouble
getting the ball into him. So he started getting more
rebounds and more opportunities to shoot the ball,
We planned our offense around Tim and Ryan Carlson,
and they worked well together. You also have to give the
team credit for getting the ball to him, Hubert
Mills averaged about 30 minutes per game (I
couldnt afford to take him out, said Hubert)
and, especially after the big game against Roscoe,
He started gaining confidence in his skills. When
he shot the ball, he had confidence it was going
Bruce Nober First Team
The scoring threat in the WSL, Nober netted 376 points in
his 14 league games to average 26.9 ppg. Overall, he
scored 526 points for a 23.9 per game clip. At the free
throw line, Nober sank 136/165 for an eye-raising 83
Playing either the two (shooting guard) or three (small
forward) spots, Nober had the ability to
score, Narrowsburg coach Cliff Kelly said. In
terms of improvement, this year he was a little stronger,
smarter, and played better defense.
Kelly praised the role of Roy Jay, whose picks and
positional play helped free Nober for one of his deadly
outside shots or drives to the hoop. Nober, Kelly
pointed out, will become even more of a force when he
raises his ballhandling skills.
He will be able to create more opportunities for
himself and for his teammates, Kelly said.
Shawn Esselman Second
The smallest center in the league, according
to Kelly, the 5-foot-10 Esselman was a powerhouse.
He had defensive and rebounding ability, and could box
out. When he wasnt on the floor we were a lot
weaker as far as shooting with him in there we
could shoot with more confidence.
In his 20 games this past season the two-year starter
averaged about 12 rebounds per game and in the WSL he
scored 13.0 ppg. Esselman was a first team all-star last
Shawn had a great first step to the hoop. He was a
slasher type, Kelly noted, adding that, he
wasnt a huge scorer but a go-to guy and played very
Kelly said that Orange County CC has expressed an
interest in Esselman and I think he can fit into
Esselmans high game this year was 28 points against
Delaware Valley on February 22.
Mitchell Lake First
The value of Lake was, according to Roscoe coach Fred Ahart, Mitchs well-rounded play, his
all-around ability. He can [score], handle the ball and
plays good defense.
Equally comfortable bringing the ball up or mixing it up
inside, Lake averaged 20.2 points and 12.2 rebounds and
three assists per game. In addition, he shot 76 percent
from the free throw line, a good number for a high school cager.
Lake, a two-year starter, played center, forward, and
swingman for the Blue Devils, and at whatever position
had an outstanding year, according to Ahart.
Perhaps most impressive was how Lake came back from a
mid-season severe injury (spraining an ankle in a
snowmobile accident). At first, it was thought his senior
season had come to a premature end.
To his credit, he wanted to come back and worked at
[getting back] and came back strong, Ahart
In his post-injury debut, Lake scored 22 points against
Jeff-Youngsville, then added a 31-point, nine-rebound
effort in a 75-70 win over Narrowsburg a week later.
Mike Stephenson First
Whether he played the two (shooting guard) or four (power
forward) positions, Stephenson showed the kind of
versatility and excellence in the little things which led
to his being named team MVP two years in a row.
We could leave him in regardless of the
score, said Tri-Valley coach Jason Semo. Mike
was someone who could control the tempo of the game with
Stephenson averaged 14 ppg, second on the team, and led
the Bears with 10 rebounds and four steals per game
overall. He tied a team record of 18 rebounds in one
According to Semo, Stephensons 16 points in the
first half of the January 14 win over Delaware Valley
(68-42) set the tone for the rout. On February 4
Stephenson beat Eldred with a shot with four seconds
Jason Mizrahi First
The third-year varsity player led the team in scoring
with 16.0 ppg and repeated as first team all-star. His
six 3-pointers in one game tied the school record set by
1992 TVCS grad Kiri Humphrey and he also set a record of
49 from downtown on the season.
Mizrahi led the Bears in scoring in nine of the 14 league
games, and scored a high of 27 against Eldred on January
12 (24 came in the second half).
Jason showed the most growth, Semo commented.
He showed acceptance of his role in a new offensive
scheme which allowed other people to score with him.
Jason was our big threat, Semo added,
and we were able to use that to get our other
people involved [in our offensive scheme.]
Mizrahi was chosen T-Vs Offensive Player of the
Year and is headed to Corning Community College, one of a
number of schools which recruited him.
Durk Pearston Second
One of only two juniors on the all-star squad the
other being Narrowsburgs Bruce Nober Pearston, according to
Semo, showed the leadership
qualities of a senior.
The Bears Defensive Player of the year averaged 11
points and five blocks per game. Within the league, he
held opposing centers to 3.7 points per game.
Durks definitely the most coachable kid
Ive ever been around and it was an honor to coach
him, Semo noted. Im very excited about
having him back next year.
Pearstons monster game came in the
January 12 win over Eldred. He scored 18 points, grabbed
10 rebounds, and had eight blocks in the 63-30 win.
We had such a complete team it was hard to have one
guy dominate, said Semo, who also made note of
senior Arthur Felder, who averaged 10 points and three
blocks per game for the WSL champs.