By Rob Potter
WEST POINT March 6, 2001 Things looked fairly good for the Sullivan West/Jeffersonville-Youngsville Trojan basketball team at halftime of Sundays Section IX Class D final at West Points Christl Arena.
After falling behind by seven points to fourth-seeded Chester (194) after the first eight minutes of play, the third-seeded Trojans stormed back in the second quarter. SW/J-Y (166) took advantage of Gregg Semenetz four three-point bombs and Chester center Dante Griggs foul trouble (that kept him on the bench for the last four-and-a-half minutes of the period) to take a 26-22 lead into the locker room.
The second half was a completely different story, however, as Chester limited SW/J-Y to only 10 points in the final two periods and went on to claim the Class D crown with a convincing 55-38 victory.
They really, really turned up the pressure on us in the second half, SW/J-Y co-coach Rick Ellison said. They are faster, quicker and stronger than we are. We had trouble executing our offense. The pressure got to us and we looked tentative taking our shots.
After trading the lead a half-dozen times in the third quarter and in the first minute of the fourth, Chester took control with just over six minutes left in the contest. Two layups by Hambletonian guard Peter Jones twenty seconds apart gave Chester a 37-32 lead. Although a pair of Semenetz free throws cut the lead to 37-34 with 6:05 left, Chester went on a 11-2 run over the next four minutes to seize control.
After number 20 (Semenetz) hit those threes in the second quarter, we wanted to shut off the outside game, Chester coach Verdelle Payne said. And then we wanted Dante, Chris Figueroa and Garth Bennett to close down the lane and control the rebounds.
Paynes second half plan worked as the Trojans had trouble dealing with the aggressive traps of the Hambletonian defense. And even when the SW/J-Y players managed to get off a shot, Griggs and his frontcourt teammates often snared the rebound.
We just didnt get any second shots, Ellison commented.
Chester also benefited from a balanced scoring attack, as four players reached double figures. Griggs led the way with 16 points, Bennett netted 13, Peter Jones scored 11 points and Mike Acevedo added 10.
Dante Griggs stepped it up in the second half, Payne said of his six-foot-five center. He always does.
For SW/J-Y, Semenetz was the only player to reach double figures. The senior poured in a game-high 18 points. Fellow senior Jon Tanous added eight points for the Trojans.
In addition to Semenetz and Tanous, the contest was the final one for fellow seniors Craig Corigliano, Mike Diehl, Mike McArdle, Neil Snedeker and Richard Stagl.
Despite the disappointing defeat, Ellison noted that it was a good experience for the juniors, so that maybe they can return next year and play a better game. (Of course, if those juniors return to the Section IX final twelve months from now they would be competing for the combined Sullivan West basketball consisting of players for the former Delaware Valley, Jeffersonville-Youngsville and Narrowsburg districts.)
This is a wonderful group of kids, Ellison said of the 2000-2001 Trojans. They have a lot of heart and a lot of character.
Notes: The Trojans beat Chester twice in the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division IV regular season. They won 60-45 at home and 53-52 in Chester.