By Frank Rizzo
ELDRED December 29, 2000 Whats your team record now?
41 overall, 20 in the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division IV.
Eldred boys basketball coach Charlie Donnelly thought about that, shook his head, and could only say, Remarkable. Remarkable.
Half an hour earlier, his Yellow Jackets had knocked off visiting Tri-Valley 51-48 in a Division IV game. Donnelly, insisting that the talent he puts on the floor is not up to that of other teams, knows his squad has to work so hard and execute so well just to stay even.
With the type of players we have, we cant afford to give up too many points, Donnelly added. No matter who we play, we have to rebound well and make good decisions that wont lead to turnovers.
Eldreds win, praised T-V coach Jason Semo, is a credit to Charlie. He gets the full potential out of his kids. I consider him beating us and Fallsburg (56-44 on December 21) a great achievement.
Donnelly returned the compliment, calling Semo a good coach. We need young guys like him in [our ranks.]
Tri-Valley has balanced scoring and if you take one guy away someone else will hurt you, Donnelly noted. It makes it hard to prepare for them. All of their players contribute.
The first half of Wednesdays game featured 12 lead changes and six ties as neither team was able to establish dominance.
T-V pivot Durk Pearston picked up his second foul late in the first quarter but his replacement, Brenton Smith, netted eight points to make up for Pearstons absence.
A buzzer-beating three-pointer by Kyle Humphrey gave T-V a 25-24 lead at the break.
The lead changes continued in the third, but the Bears gained breathing room when Pearston converted a James Paul miss, and drew a foul. He sank the free throw to complete the three-point play and give T-V its biggest lead, 41-35, with 1:22 left in the third.
A corner bucket by Warren Ritter and a putback by Joe Scully closed the gap to 41-39 at quarters end.
With 5:12 left Eric Milisauskas sank a long jumper to pull the hosts even, and at the Bear end Milisauskas stole the ball and drove the length of the court. He missed his shot as Humphrey blocked his way, but Stephen Degerdon grabbed the loose ball and scored to give Eldred the lead for good at 4:45.
Ryan Jasper, enjoying what Donnelly called his best game of the young season, then scored Eldreds last six points to assure the win.
A three-pointer by Humphrey put the Bears as close as 47-46, but Jasper responded with clutch buckets at 3:01 and 2:25.
With seconds left Humphrey attempted a tying shot, only to see it go in-and-out.
In perhaps the key stat of the game, Eldred made 9-of-14 from the foul line while the visitors were 3/3.
Jasper (19), Scully (11), and Ritter (10) were in double figures for Eldred.
Josh Lowitz led the Bears (23, 02 Division IV) with 11 points. Pearston finished with nine, while Smith, Humphrey, and Bill Gorman added eight apiece.
Another factor in Eldreds win was its ability to shut out Pearston in the fourth quarter.
They played great help defense against Durk, and they also overplayed our guards, and made it hard to make passes in to him, Semo explained.
The 02 record in the highly-competitive Division IV hurts
but from my perspective, our main purpose is to get into sectionals, Semo said.
The second-year coach believes his team has the talent and dedication to refocus.
We just need that one big game, Semo said. Weve been shooting awful from the field. We havent caught fire yet.
Donnelly thought his teams opening-season 41-32 loss to the Family School may have been the best thing for us. We got out-hustled and out-worked and [the Family] deserved to win. Weve been working better in practice since then.
Donnelly expressed his sense of wonder at his teams early success Having the first two league games at home was good for us but knows Division IV is a bruising league.
It is a very difficult road just for us to be competitive, much less win Donnelly remarked after the win over Fallsburg.