By Ted Waddell
FALLSBURG February 12, 2002 Despite a spirited battle under the boards in Thursday nights OCIAA Div. IV basketball game at Fallsburg, the home team Fallsburg Comets went down in flames, 46-27, in the teeth of an aggressive Sullivan West Bulldogs defense that took the fire out of Fallsburgs offense.
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 9-4 first quarter lead and outscored the Comets by a 14-6 margin in the second period on the way to taking a 13-point halftime lead (23-10) into the locker room.
The game was played before a nearly packed house, as both teams of local hoopsters were cheered on by large contingents of fans and squads of peppy cheerleaders.
In the third period, the Comets (12-3, 4-2 OCIAA) started to close the gap, but Sullivan West (11-3, 3-2 OCIAA) managed to hang on to a narrow 11-8 advantage, causing some excitement on the coaching staff of both teams.
The final quarter was almost a repeat of the previous period, as the Bulldogs dug their defensive teeth into Fallsburgs hopes of getting out of the doghouse. Sullivan West outscored Fallsburg 12-9 in those last eight minutes of play.
The Comets ran into a tall timber under the boards called Mike Ahnstrom, a 6 9 Bulldog who didnt take any prisioners under the boards on the way to scoring a game-high 17 points.
I think we played a really good defensive game tonight, said Ahnstrom, a 17-year-old senior. Our teams playing really good defense.
In a rather oblique reference to the Bulldogs not scoring a lot of points against the Comets, Anhstrom said, Some nights the balls going to go in, some nights its not, but you can always play good defense.
My teammates got the open looks, gave me the ball and I hit some easy shots, he added.
According to Ahnstrom, hes definitely got his eye on playing some college basketball, but isnt yet quite sure where hes going to plant his nearly seven foot frame next year.
I dont know what level yet, anywhere I can fit in and help a team win a championship is good enough for me, he added.
Ahnstrom and Fallsburgs Lionel White were the only two players to score in double figures in the contest. White netted 11 points on the evening.
Neither team shot particularly well from the foul line. Sullivan West was 12-of-26 (46 percent), while Fallsburg was 3-of-11 (27 percent).
I thought we played really well defensively, and thats what we needed to do tonight, said Sullivan West Co-Coach Rick Ellison. We got contributions from everybody.
Ellison said Rob Orr did a great job on John Hinton defensively . . . hes a real good player for Fallsburg.
Orr made him work for every shot, he added.
According to Ellison, the three big keys in the Bulldogs 19-point victory over the Comets were controlling the boards, good rebounding and a strong defensive effort by all hands on deck.
We handled the pressure and broke their press, Ellison commented.