By Rob Potter
LIVINGSTON MANOR December 17, 2004 The calendar may say December, but Tuesday nights non-league boys basketball game between the Fallsburg Comets and the host Livingston Manor Wildcats had the feel of a playoff game in February or March.
Despite missing the front end of three 1-and-1 foul shot opportunities in the final minute of play, Manor held on for a dramatic 59-58 victory over the Comets.
Manor improved its record to 4-1 on the season, while Fallsburg fell to 0-3.
With two minutes left in the game, Fallsburgs Chris Gates banked a shot off the backboard and into the hoop from close range to give the Comets a 58-57 lead.
Nearly a minute later, with 1:11 displayed on the scoreboard clock, Manors Timmy Bryant scored inside the lane off a pass from teammate Rob Baker. Bryants basket gave the Wildcats a 59-58 lead.
Following a Fallsburg turnover and a steal by each team, Bryant was fouled with 21.9 seconds left in regulation and stepped up to the free-throw line for a 1-and-1 situation. His first shot bounced off the rim, but Baker got great position underneath the basket and snared the rebound.
With 16 seconds remaining, Manors Josh Mendez stepped up to the free-throw line for a 1-and-1. His first shot was off, but Baker was able to grab the basketball before any of the Comets could do so.
After each team turned the ball over, Baker was fouled and went to the foul line with just 4.5 seconds displayed on the scoreboard clock. Bakers shot bounced off the rim and amid a battle for the rebound, Fallsburg gained possession.
Following a timeout, the Comets had a chance for a game-winning shot with 2.6 seconds remaining. But Manors Mike Perry intercepted the Comets inbounds pass near halfcourt and dribbled towards the Wildcat basket.
Perrys insurance shot fell through the net a split second after the buzzer sounded. But Perry and his teammates didnt care about that basket being late because they were celebrating a one-point victory over a determined, tenacious Fallsburg team.
Rob Baker coming up with those two rebounds after we missed the front end of two 1-and-1s was huge, Manor Coach Charlie Hicks said. Those rebounds and Timmys basket with a minute left won the game for us. Timmy and Rob stepped up big tonight.
Bryant and Perry were two of three Wildcats to score in double figures. Bryant scored a team-high 17 points, Perry netted 15 points and Dan Hinkley added 13.
Hicks credited Fallsburg for playing a great game, especially the way the Comets played on offense.
Theyre fast, he said. The first 10 or 12 points they scored came on baskets when they broke our [full-court] press.
Fallsburg Coach Paul Marsden noted that both teams hustled and came ready to play.
On those 1-and-1s, they got three offensive rebounds and that was the key, Marsden added.
While his team is still looking for its first win, Marsden remains optimistic about the remainder of the 2004-2005 season.
Were young, were learning, he said. I hope at the end of the season, we are an improved team.
Fallsburgs Reggie Brown scored a game-high 18 points, while teammates David Anthony and Gates added 17 and 14 points, respectively.
As a team, the Comets shot 11-for-15 (73 percent) at the free-throw line. Manor was just 8-for-19 (42 percent) at the line.