By Rob Potter
LAKE HUNTINGTON February 20, 2004 While a high school basketball game features 32 minutes of play, how the opposing teams perform in just one of the eight-minute quarters often foreshadows the final outcome.
That was the case Tuesday night as the Sullivan West Bulldogs hosted the John S. Burke Catholic School Eagles in an OCIAA Division IV game at the new Sullivan West High School in Lake Huntington.
Utilizing good shooting and taking advantage of a few Burke miscues, the Bulldogs raced out to a 25-9 lead after the first period.
Although Burke turned up its defensive pressure in the second quarter and cut a double-digit deficit to just five points late in the third period, the team could not quite recover from SWs first quarter domination.
SW (13-4, 4-0 OCIAA) went on to post a 68-53 victory in the contest.
The Bulldogs great start began almost immediately. Four seconds into the game, junior Sean Kelly scored on a layup to give SW a lead it would not surrender the rest of the night.
With 6:42 left in the quarter, Burkes Dan Zuretti swished a three-point shot to knot the score at 4-4.
But the Bulldogs responded with a 21-5 scoring run to close out the opening period.
Burke (10-8, 2-2 OCIAA) held SW to just 10 points in the second quarter to pull to within 35-28 at halftime.
Then with just 1:04 remaining in the third period, the Eagles narrowed the SW lead to only five points (47-42) on a basket by Tyler Muer.
However, SW calmly responded with three baskets in the final minute of the third period. Sean Semenetz drilled a three-pointer with 53 seconds left, Joe Meyer hit a jump shot at the 35-second mark and Kelly banked in a short jumper off the backboard with four ticks on the clock. Those hoops gave the Bulldogs a 54-42 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Kelly was the Bulldogs top scorer with a game-high 26 points. Brian Parks recorded 13 points, Meyer added 11 and Semenetz netted 8.
Burkes Andrew Jackson scored a team-high 17 points and teammates Zuretti and Jason Green added 10 and 9 points, respectively.
SW Coach Rick Ellison noted that his teams quick start was a key factor in the victory.
The guys came out a little more focused, he said. They had a little more hop in their step tonight, they were ready to go. Getting that layup off the opening tip was a good omen for us.
Ellison was pleased his team maintained that focus when Burke tightened its defensive pressure and made a couple of scoring runs.
We were consistent with our offense, he said. Even when Burke cut the lead to five in the second half, we were able to move the ball around and get good looks at the basket. We didnt make every shot we took, but we were patient and used up some of the clock.
After the game Burke Coach Kevin Bach seemed puzzled by his teams performance, especially since the Eagles won four games last week.
We got outhustled tonight, he said. We were flat the entire first quarter. We played better as the game went on, but it was too little, too late.
Bach added that he was looking forward to the next game between the teams, which is scheduled for Tuesday night in Goshen.
Ellison noted that contest should be another battle.
They are 10 times better on their home court, he said of the Eagles.
Note: With the victory over Burke, SW moved to within one win of clinching the OCIAA Division IV title.
The Bulldogs next chance to earn that victory is tomorrow night, when the team hosts James I. ONeill at 7 p.m. If SW defeats ONeill, it would have a perfect 5-0 record in Division IV play with only one division game remaining on its schedule. Even if the Bulldogs were to lose that final contest versus Liberty, SW would still have just one defeat within Division IV, while Burke, Liberty and ONeill each have at least two division losses already.