By Frank Rizzo
MONTICELLO December 22, 2000 The long December continued for Monticello boys basketball coach Dick ONeills former protege, and ONeills squad added to Kevin Bachs gray hairs.
The Panthers overcame a slow start to crush John S. Burke Catholic 85-65 in Wednesdays Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division III game.
In my 23 years Ive never had a team lose three straight games
or go winless in December, explained Bach, who assisted ONeill at Burke before taking over the reins in 1985.
The win evened the Monties record to 22 (10 Division III) while dropping the Eagles to 05 (01 Division III).
Burke had Monticello reeling a couple of times in the first half. A pair of three-pointers by Scott Granwehr highlighted a 10-0 Eagle run to put the visitors ahead 14-8.
In this stretch, Burke managed to stifle Monticellos center and offensive focus, John DeGroat.
The Panthers responded with 10 straight to end the stanza, and Sammie McGinnis sparked the run with a pair of three-pointers and a layup off a pass from Phil Stewart.
The guests overcame a seven-point deficit to take their last lead with 2:4 left, when Brian Fedish scored uncontested on a nicely-executed throw-in. That put Burke ahead 30-29, the last lead it would hold.
McGinnis quickly responded for the Monties, sinking a jumper which started a 15-2 surge that put the hosts ahead 44-32 at the half.
The senior continued his hot hand at the start of the third, draining a pair of threes to give Monticello a 50-32 cushion.
Sammie gave us a lift, ONeill noted. And those two three-pointers put us from 12-up to 18-up and relaxed us. We started playing better after that.
Soon after the lead reached 79-50, ONeill cleared his bench.
We played very well offensively, but defensively we have a way to go, ONeill summed up. I wasnt happy with our defense.
After 32 years of coaching, ONeill reflected, I can tell when kids are ready to play, and we werent. We didnt start out with focus and intensity.
Glancing at the stat sheet, ONeill noted that Burke had nine offensive rebounds in the first half, and thats unacceptable.
Bach also made note of his teams success on the offensive glass, but added: We did not sustain that, and since we have a small team we have to be more consistent.
Were young and inexperienced, and learning how to play on the varsity level, he added.
Asked to name the favorites in Division III, Bach cited Monticello and Cornwall.
ONeill was more cautious, saying he has not seen most of the teams in his division yet.
Our chances are pretty good. I expect the division to be balanced, ONeill said.
Notes: McGinnis had a career high 23 points and sank four three-pointers while adding six steals
DeGroat finished with 19, seven coming in the third quarter, and added 11 rebounds (six on the offensive glass)
Rickie Villegas sank three three-pointers and finished with 15, eight of them coming in the fourth. He added six assists and five rebounds
Chris Robinson was a spark off the bench, netting 11 and dishing out eight assists
Phil Stewart had four assists while Rich Fello grabbed six rebounds
Anthony Carpentieri (15) and Granwehr (11) scored in double figures for Burke.