By Frank Rizzo
MONTICELLO February 13, 2001 - A pair of close home losses at the end of last week put pressure on the Monticello Lady Panthers to win two of their remaining three games.
Otherwise, its bye, bye sectionals.
Monticello lost to Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division III rivals James I ONeill (56-51 on Thursday) and Cornwall (59-53 on Saturday) to drop to 78 overall and 46 in the league.
The Monties traveled to the Family School for a non-league game last night. Results were unavailable at press time.
Next week they have league games on the road against Liberty and John S. Burke to close out the regular season.
We put ourselves in a bind, conceded Monticello coach Karen Atack after Saturdays loss. We knew it was going to be close [against Cornwall]. We didnt pull it out at the end.
Free throw shooting was a factor in both losses. Against ONeill the Panthers were 8-for-15 from the line; in Saturdays game the performance dropped to 10/20, with six misses in the fourth quarter.
You just cant have foul shooting like that. Turnovers also hurt us, Atack noted.
Thursdays game was close throughout, with numerous lead changes and, until the final quarter, no more than five points separating the teams.
The hosts held a 39-38 lead entering the fourth, but the Raiders quickly gained the upper hand, going up 52-43 at the halfway point of the period.
Monticello answered with six straight, capped by a free throw by Deirdre Smith with 1:54 left to make it 52-49.
But consecutive baskets by Desiree Coyle, the second off of a steal, sealed the win for the Raiders.
In the first encounter, on January 9, ONeill won 58-34 behind Nneka Cruses 18 points and 14 rebounds. Cruse is out for the season with an injury and ONeill coach Jerry Downey thought her absence on Thursday accounted for the closer game.
Still, Downey wasnt stingy with his credit.
Monticello did a nice job tonight, they played a nice game, certainly much better than last time, he said.
It was a pretty well-matched game, Atack said. We handled their halfcourt defense and did a much better job this time with our offensive rebounding.
Smith led Monticello with 26 points 15 rebounds, three assists, and four steals.
Brady Dollard added 10 points and seven rebounds.
Crystal Forget scored seven points and Cindy Jessup contributed six assists.
Junior Kim Donohue saw limited action, grabbing six rebounds. Unfortunately for Monticello she reinjured her ankle an injury which has kept her out for most of the season and will likely miss the rest of the year.
Its going to be hard with seven players, Atack noted.
Smith scored 32 points in Saturdays loss to Cornwall.
We werent focused, werent executing, Atack said of this game.