By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO February 28, 2003 The Monticello Panthers were cold in the first quarter of Tuesday nights Section IX Class A quarterfinal versus visiting Minisink Valley.
Monticello missed several shots as Minisink Valley, which also started slowly, grabbed a 9-7 lead at the end of the first eight minutes of play.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, however, the Panthers soon regained their shooting touch.
Monticello (18-2) scored 14 points in the second period and held Minisink scoreless to take a commanding 21-9 lead at halftime. The Panthers went on to record a 65-39 victory.
With the win, Monticello, seeded second in the Class A tournament, advanced to the semifinals. The Panthers were scheduled to meet third-seeded Saugerties last night at Sullivan County Community College.
Keying that second quarter scoring run for the Panthers were senior forwards Geraldo Fernandez and Devan Scantlebury. With 1:32 left in the period, Scantlebury drove to the hoop to score an easy basket to give Monticello a 14-9 lead.
Then with 41 ticks on the clock, he swished a three-pointer to boost the Panthers lead to 17-9.
In the final 25 seconds of the quarter, Fernandez made two free throws and tipped in a teammates missed shot as the Panthers took a 12-point lead into the locker room.
In the first four minutes of the third quarter, Fernandez swished a pair of three pointers and scored inside the lane as Monticello sprinted out to a 32-12 lead.
Fernandez finished with a game-high 28 points, while Scantlebury had 10 points. Deon Morgan and Rick Villegas each added seven points for the Panthers.
We came out slow, Monticello Coach Dick ONeill said. We played tight and didnt get into the flow offensively. But from about four minutes into the second quarter on, we were able to get our offense going. We hit a couple of three pointers to boost the lead from 12 to 18 in a hurry.
Of course, holding the Warriors scoreless in the second period and the offensive display by Fernandez were also keys to the win.
Geraldo has been incredible the last 10 games, ONeill said. Offensively he has just elevated his game. Hes been awesome.
Luke Mortenson led Minisink Valley with 12 points. Teammate Adam Bendlin added seven points.
We wanted to keep the game in the 50s, Minisink Valley Coach Dave Osczepinski said. When they only had 21 [points] at halftime, we thought we were doing o.k. But give Monticello credit, they are quite a basketball team.