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Democrat Photo by Jeanne Sager

Burke Catholic’s Nick Castro, center, tries to block the shot of Monticello’s Chris Robinson, right. Robinson scored 12 points to boost the Panthers’ win at home in Monticello.

Panthers Keep
Their Lead

By Jeanne Sager
MONTICELLO — December 28, 2001 – The Monticello Panthers posted rare numbers in their Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division III matchup against the Eagles of John S. Burke Catholic High School last Friday night.
The Panthers, lead by senior John DeGroat and sophomore Rick Villegas, overtook the visiting Eagles by a lopsided final score of 104-59.
Monticello Coach Dick O’Neill said the high score wasn’t a usual outcome for the Panthers’ games, and he regretted the fact that the score was so one-sided.
But after a frenetic third period in which the Panthers pulled ahead to a huge 82-39 lead, O’Neill sat down to have a talk with Burke Coach Kevin Bach, who was an O’Neill assistant a few years ago when he (O’Neill) served as head coach at the Catholic school.
According to O’Neill, the coaches decided that if Monticello (7-1, 2-0 Division III) was to hold back, it wouldn’t be fair to either group of boys.
“I’ve been on the other side of games like this, and they’re not funny,” O’Neill noted. “Scoring 100 points isn’t something we usually do. I asked the other coach if he wanted me to hold it and he said, ‘no’ because it wouldn’t be fair to his guys.”
The game was, however, a chance for some of O’Neill’s top players to shine. Five of the Monticello players, including members of the team’s second string, scored in the double digits for the evening.
“To have five guys score in the double figures — it doesn’t get much better than that,” O’Neill said.
DeGroat had a double-double for the evening, scoring 29 points and posting 10-plus rebounds. He also had five dunks during the contest.
Villegas added 21 points and Chris Robinson had 12, including three dunks. Geraldo Fernandez added 11 points to the board and Mike Watson had 10 for the Panthers.
Burke – playing with five players missing, including several starters – fought hard against the Panthers’ prowess. The Eagles came out strong in the first period, led by Mark Broadhead – who finished with a team-high 14 points on the night.
Burke (2-4, 1-1 Division III) held the Monticello boys to a 28-18 lead for the first period. But by the second period, the Panthers had regained their momentum and carried it through the game.
Despite the Eagles’ attempts to hold the Panthers’ offense, when the Monticello second string entered the game with a comfortable lead of 82-39 in the third period, the home team’s score continued to steadily rise.
“Monticello is unbelievable,” said Bach. “They have a great team.”
Missing five of his players, due a number of different issues, played a factor in the Eagles’ loss, Bach said. But he noted that the Monticello team really played well.
“They just played super — they really did,” Bach noted.
For the Eagles, Kyle Reed ended the game with 12 points, Anthony Carpenteri added nine and Adrian Mahawaduge posted six points.
According to O’Neill, Monticello started the game a little out of focus.
“But Ricky [Villegas] gave us energy at the beginning and got us going,” he said, noting that both Villegas and DeGroat scored 12 points in the first period alone.
Robinson’s shooting spree in the second period helped to boost the Monticello lead, O’Neill added.

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