Sullivan County Democrat
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Democrat Photo by Jeanne Sager

MONTICELLO’S DEIRDRE SMITH shoots the ball while teammates Liz Pavese, left, and Christa Billias watch. Port Jervis’ Brittany Natiello runs behind Smith.

Raiders Outrun Panthers

By Jeanne Sager
MONTICELLO — December 14, 2001 – Monticello’s Lady Panthers (1-1) took every opportunity they could to score Tuesday night, but they weren’t able to overtake the Red Raiders of Port Jervis (2-3).
The Monticello girls lost their second game of the season to the visiting Lady Raiders by a 57-28 margin in the non-league game.
Port Jervis jumped out to a lead of 13-7 in the first quarter, perhaps foreshadowing a victory for the Lady Red Raiders.
Despite the Lady Panthers’ many attempts to steal the ball and drive back to their own net, missed shots made the lead almost impossible to overcome.
In the second quarter, Monticello went on an early five-point spree led by Deirdre Smith – who also recorded the most steals for the team during the game – holding their rivals to zero.
But the Lady Red Raiders quickly regained their momentum. They ended the period with a 17-0 run, which made the score 32-11 at the half.
By the beginning of the fourth quarter, Smith had already racked up four fouls, forcing her to back off on her heavy offense.
Freshman Melissa Leeper entered the game for the Red Raiders, hitting four baskets in a row to help ensure victory for Port Jervis.
According to Monticello Coach Karen Atack, the game was a learning experience for her team.
“We’re a very young team,” she noted. “I don’t have any seniors this year.
“But the girls never gave up and that’s important,” she added. “Right now we’re just going to work on our fundamentals and improve our game, and maybe we’ll surprise some people.”
Atack noted Smith will be an even greater asset to the team in the future.
“She didn’t play a very good game today, but she’ll be someone to watch,” Atack said.
Smith ended the game for the Lady Panthers with 13 points, seven steals and two assists. Brady Dollard contributed seven points, having grabbed seven rebounds throughout the game.
Christa Billias added six points for the Lady Panthers.
Port Jervis Coach Jim DeStefano was extremely pleased with his team’s performance.
“This is by far the best game we’ve played this year,” DeStefano said. “We took advantage of our fast break at times, and I was impressed with the way the team played — they were very unselfish.”
DeStefano credited Brittany Natiello with leading the team.
Natiello netted 17 points and grabbed nine steals. Jenn Keane, who DeStefano said was on fire for the beginning of the game, had 10 points. Mandy Hinkley also posted 10 for the Lady Red Raiders.
Also contributing to the Port Jervis victory were Leeper, who had eight points and Christine Earley, who dished out 10 assists.

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