By Ted Waddell
PINE BUSH February 26, 2002 In an intense game Friday night at Pine Bush High School, the Tuxedo Lady Tornadoes defeated the Sullivan West Lady Bulldogs, 36-35, to capture the OCIAA Division IV title.
The Lady Bulldogs started out well, outscoring the opposition in the opening quarter by a 10-8 margin and taking an 18-14 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
In the third period, however, the Lady Tornadoes mounted a spirited defense as they virtually shut down Sullivan Wests outside shooting. Tuxedo (17-4) outgunned the Lady Bulldogs 12-6 in that stanza and took a 26-24 lead into the final eight minutes of play.
SW (19-2) fought back to outscore Tuxedo, 11-10 in the final period.
But from the Lady Bulldog standpoint, it wasnt quite enough. SW guard/forward Aileen Semenetz fouled out with about two minutes left in the contest, hurting the Lady Bulldog cause.
SW Coach Ron Bernhardt noted that it wasnt a very well played game.
A lot of kids lost their focus, he said. The effort was there, they were trying . . . (but) we were playing well below our capabilities.
When asked why, Bernhardt had a simple response.
If I had the answer to that, Id write a book and be laying on a beach, the veteran coach said.
Believe me, its not about effort, he added. They were trying their hardest.
Sementez was the only player from either team to reach double figures. She finished the evening with 12 points. Tuxedo was led by Ashley Rossi, who netted eight.
The Lady Bulldogs fared better at the charity stripe, converting nine-of-12 (75 percent) free throws, as compared to six-of-15 (40 percent) for the Lady Tornadoes.
This is what girls basketball is all about, said Tuxedo Coach Dave Powers. It was a close-fought game, theyre a great team and they played hard and we played hard.
According to Powers, he noted that his team did not have a good shooting night.
But we never let up, Powers added. Theres an old saying: Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.
It was a tough game, said SW senior guard Christina Winski. We came out and played a little flat, but we sure tried.
Like Winski and the rest of her teammates, Semenetz, a 17-year-old senior guard/forward, is looking forward to this weeks sectional tournament.
Its a whole new season, Semenetz said. So weve just got to get out there and start over.
The one-game playoff was necessary because both teams finished divisional play with 9-1 records and split their regular season meetings.
The Lady Bulldogs dominated the first encounter in Jeffersonville, prevailing by a 61-49 final. But on February 8 in Tuxedo, the Lady Tornadoes won, 53-43.
Note: In tonights Section IX Class C quarterfinals, second-seeded Sullivan West hosts seventh-seeded Pine Plains and Tuxedo, which is the third seed, hosts sixth-seeded Liberty.
If Sullivan West beats Pine Plains and Tuxedo defeats Liberty, then the Lady Bulldogs and Lady Tornadoes will meet at 5 p.m. Thursday at Sullivan County Community College for the right to advance to the Class C title game.