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Comets' Hopes Fade

Democrat Photo by Ted Waddell

FALLSBURG’S IRENE NIKALODAS grabs a rebound away from Seward’s Rose Kerstanski. Watching in the background are Seward’s Laura Golben and Fallsburg’s Ashley Frunzi (12)

Spartans Down Comets In A Heartbreaker

By Ted Waddell
FALLSBURG — January 11, 2002 - While some teams are busy checking their scorebooks and looking at the won/loss columns with an eye on next month’s sectionals, the Fallsburg Lady Comets (O-7, 0-5 OCIAA) are still hoping for their first win of the season.
On Tuesday night, the Lady Comets faced off against S. S. Seward – a fellow OCIAA Division IV team that was also looking for its first victory of the 2001-2002 hoop year.
At the final buzzer, it was the Lady Spartans who picked up their first win of the year by defeating Fallsburg, 40-33.
In the first period, it seemed as if Fallsburg was on the way to their season’s first victory as they led the Lady Spartans 14-6. S.S. Seward (1-8, 1-4 OCIAA) closed the gap in the second quarter by outscoring the home team 9-5, but the Lady Comets held on to a narrow four point lead (19-15) at the half.
Seward made some adjustments in the third period to the Fallsburg press, lobbing the ball over the opposition on the way to outgunning the Lady Comets 12-4 to take the lead.
In the final period, the home team staged a late game comeback – outscoring Seward by a 13-10 margin – but it was a case of too little too late. And so the Lady Comets left the court still looking for their first win of the season.
In the closing minutes, Fallsburg’s Ashley Frunzi burned up the court and Shannon Horace scored a few desperately needed points, but in the final analysis, it wasn’t enough to stem the loss.
Senior Amy Hobby was the only double digit scorer for Fallsburg as she netted 10 points in the contest. For Seward, Rose Kerstanski reached double figures with blank points.
Stats from the free throw line: FCS 4/12 (33 percent); S. S. Seward 8/19 (42 percent).
“It feels good to get our first win of the season,” said Seward Coach Chris Knittel. “It was a close game, [and] I told the girls it was going to go back and forth . . . they were 0-6 and we were 0-8 so we knew someone was going to come out on top and fortunately it was us.”
Knittel said his team’s downfall this season has been their inability to make key shots when needed, but theLady Spartans broke through that barrier in the win over Fallsburg.
“Tonight we hit the key jump shots,” he said.
He cited the three-point shooting of Tricia Dugan.
“This was her break out game,” Knittel said.
He also praised the efforts of Katie Akrop, who “hit some nice free throws for us” and Kelly Wallace whom he noted “did a heck of a job at point guard.”
According to Fallsburg Coach Lee Smassanow, the Lady Comets had the game wrapped up, but let it slip away like quicksilver on a cold winter’s moonlit evening.
“We ran out of gas in the fourth period,” he said. “It’s a shame because the girls really played hard. Each of them have their attributes of being good athletes, it’s just a matter of getting it to work all together.
“Florida [S.S. Seward] walked away with the win much to our disappointment,” added Smassanow. “We were banking on a victory tonight.”
The Lady Comets helmsman lauded the play of several of his hoopsters: Amy Hobby had “a nice performance” and Ashley Horace gave us “nice scoring.”
“We had a great defense effort by Denise Calvello, Shannon Horrace and Irene Nikolodas, and Michelle Hoefling coming off the bench,” he added. “The squad played really well.”
Looking at the rest of the season, Smassanow said, “There are some teams out there that are really skilled, and that’s going to be rough, but there are a handful of teams that we can beat.”
There are moments in sports that define a game. Usually it’s a dynamic play or a crucial mistake, but in the case of Tuesday’s loss it was the comments of a Fallsburg Central School maintainance worker as he started to sweep up the litter under the bleachers.
“It’s a real heartbreaker, coach,” John Carey said to Smassanow as he began his post-game chores.

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