By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO April 2, 2002 The Monticello boys varsity basketball team just completed the most successful season in school's history. It is a fact Coach Dick O'Neill is very proud of.
The whole season was positive, commented O'Neill. We had the most wins in Monticellos history. We succeeded in all the goals we had at the start of the season.
Monticellos overall record for the 2001-2002 season was 21 wins and just 3 losses. In OCIAA Division III competition, Monticello had 11 wins and only one loss.
Two of the Panthers top players were senior forward John DeGroat and senior guard Chris Robinson. DeGroat was the teams leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 21.4 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. He scored his 1,000th point of his varsity career in a January victory against Liberty.
For ONeill and his team, the highlight of the year was winning the Section IX Championship. While they fell short of the state title falling to Peekskill in a Class B Regional quarterfinal on March 9 the Panthers achieved a great deal this past season.
We succeeded in our goals both socially and athletically, remarked O'Neill. The whole season, from beginning to end, was real outstanding. It was all positive.
It may be difficult for Monticello to repeat their success next year. The Panthers will be losing four players, including DeGroat and Robinson. The other two players leaving are Eric Johnson and Mike Watson.
They will be hard to replace, stated ONeill. They played a significant role. Hopefully, others will step up.
Juniors Geraldo Fernandez and Rick Villegas were two of the players ONeill cited as among those he thought would step up next season. Villegas averaged 15 points a game this past season.
(This past) season was a fun time to coach, ONeill said. All the kids worked hard.
In June, the senior players will be recognized for their achievements at the schools annual senior banquet.