By Justin Gottschalk
GRAHAMSVILLE January 7, 2005 Undersized and outgunned, the Tri-Valley boys basketball team almost stole one from a bigger, more experienced Liberty team Tuesday night.
In the end, though, the Indians outlasted the Bears, coming away with a 51-41 victory in the non-league contest.
The game was back and forth in the first half, with neither team able to gain a significant advantage.
However as time waned in the second quarter, Liberty guard Chris Paddock gave his team some momentum going into the break, as he drained a buzzer-beater from the right elbow. Paddocks long-range jumper put the Indians ahead 27-24 at the half.
We played with effort and showed a lot of heart out there, Tri-Valley Coach Jason Semo said. Defensively, we took a lot of charges, five or six. Thats a heart thing, a pride thing.
The Bears showed their pride out of the gate in the third period, battling back and keeping it close. Eighth grader Dustin Van Lieu led the way, scoring 17 points on the evening. Sophomore Michael Kaplan added 12 and senior Travis Wolfe scored six in the loss.
The Bears were playing without their leading scorer and rebounder.
Liberty (3-3) pulled ahead for good in the final three minutes of the third period.
Guard George Cotton provided a spark off the bench, coming up with several steals, a 3-point basket, and a shot at the buzzer to put the Indians up 41-31 at the end of three quarters of play.
Jared Levine led a balanced scoring attack for Liberty as he recorded 11 points. Ronnie Allen, Jason Garritt and Paddock all had eight points for the Indians.
We played an OK game, Liberty Coach David Slater said. We passed the ball well and utilized our size to our advantage. These guys played hard.
Good interior scoring and rebounding helped the Indians preserve their 10-point advantage throughout the fourth quarter. The team was led by Allens monster effort on the boards in those final eight minutes of the game.
Liberty was scheduled to return to the court last night, but that contest was canceled due to the inclement weather that hit Sullivan County late Wednesday night and continued through yesterday. The Indians next game is slated for Wednesday, January 12, when they will play host to Monticello in a non-league contest.
T-V, which fell to 0-8 on the season, will look to record its first win tonight. The Bears will travel to Fallsburg for an Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division V game versus the Fallsburg Comets.