By Rob Potter
WEST POINT March 04, 2003 A tenacious defense and superb outside shooting carried the Fallsburg Comets to the Section IX Class C championship Saturday afternoon at West Points Christl Arena.
Fallsburg, the third seed in the tournament, grabbed a 21-8 lead after the first quarter and never let fourth-seeded Tri-Valley get back into the game. The Comets recorded a 62-52 victory in the contest.
With the win, Fallsburg advanced to the opening round of the Class C state tournament. The Comets will meet the Section I champion, either North Salem or Tuckahoe, at 8 p.m. tonight at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh.
In the first quarter, Fallsburg (15-5) wasted little time in taking the lead.
After T-Vs Kyle Humphrey scored the first basket of the game, the Comets scored seven unanswered points. Later in the period, Humphrey hit a jump shot to cut the Fallsburg lead to 9-6. But the Comets quickly responded.
A minute later, senior guard Jon Hinton swished a three-pointer from the corner to extend the Fallsburg lead to 14-6. Fifteen seconds later, Hinton made a layup on a fast break to give the Comets a double-digit lead and force the Bears to take a time out.
T-V (15-8) rallied in the second quarter to cut the Fallsburg lead to just six (26-20) at halftime.
But in the third quarter Hinton and fellow senior Zaquan Hilliard hit long-range jump shots as the Comets extended their lead to 50-33 heading into the final eight minutes of play.
Hinton finished the game with a team-high 23 points, while Hilliard netted 20 points. Each player made a trio of three-point shots in the contest.
Junior forward Doug Novogrodsky added 13 points for Fallsburg.
It was just a total team effort, Fallsburg Coach Paul Marsden said. Every player who stepped on the court did a tremendous job.
While praising the shooting performance by Hinton and Hilliard, Marsden also noted their contributions on the other end of the floor.
Jon and Zaquan did a great job of defending Kyle, said Marsden, refering to T-V senior guard Kyle Humphrey. The rest of the team played great defense on their other players as well.
Humphrey was able to score 30 points and teammate Martin Henry-Lester added 10 for the Bears, but it was not enough.
They came out with a lot of confidence and a lot of intensity, T-V Coach Jason Semo said of the Comets. And they shot extremely well.
While obviously disappointed with the loss, Semo noted that it was a pleasure to coach Kyle for the past three years.
Semo also noted that the Bears enjoyed the support of a very loyal group of fans this season.
Im proud of our entire team and our fans for their support and sportsmanship all season long, Semo said. Whether we were winning or losing, our fans were always positive. They showed a lot of class and dignity. Thats a credit to the entire T-V student body.
Hinton noted that the Comets offensive game plan was rather simple.
We just wanted to be patient, pass the ball around and take the best available shot, he said. And it worked out for us.
The win was especially sweet for Hinton, Hilliard and fellow seniors Kourtney Frasier, Brandon McKenny and Lionel White.
We wanted revenge on Tri-Valley because they beat us the last time we played, Hinton said. We wanted to win this game really bad. Everybody worked hard and we played well today. Now the seniors can go out happy.