By Nathan Mayberg
FALLSBURG January 11, 2005 The visiting Tri-Valley Bears defeated the Fallsburg Comets 61-49 Friday night in an Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division IV game that was closer than the score indicated.
Play was tight early as both teams played intensely on both sides of the basket. The Bears held a 14-8 lead after the first quarter, due to the excellent shooting of Michael Kaplan and the quick penetration of point guard Travis Wolfe.
Wolfe finished the evening with a game-high 22 points, although almost half of them came during the last two minutes when he was fouled several times as Fallsburg was attempting to stop the clock. Kaplan had an awesome shooting performance, and he racked up 20 points. John Merchant added nine points for the Bears.
Fallsburg was led by the play of David Anthony, who had 21 points. Chris Gates added 15 points, and Daniel Frasier chipped in with seven.
The Comets bit into the T-V lead in the second quarter through good shooting by Anthony and Darius Buckner. However, they were met by the hot hand of Kaplan, who went on a shooting tear and nailed several shots.
Both teams exchanged a flurry of baskets, but Walsh gave the momentum back to T-V by drawing a charge on a Fallsburg player.
Fallsburg soon found itself down 34-21. But the resilient Comets charged back onto the court in the third quarter by turning up their press and picking up a number of breakaway layups. With 2:13 left in the third period, the T-V lead was down to 36-28. Kaplan responded by drilling more baskets, but the Fallsburg team was determined. Anthony went on a tear of layups.
The score was 42-38 when one of the referees called a foul on a Fallsburg player after Kaplan rebounded his own missed foul shot and scored. Fallsburg Coach Paul Marsden pointed to that play after the game, calling it, in his opinion, one of several poor calls by the officials down the stretch which hurt his team.
T-V stretched its lead back to seven points, but Anthony retaliated with a 3-pointer to bring the score to 45-41. Merchant hit right back with a 3-point shot of his own to give the Bears a seven-point lead. Fallsburg responded yet again, making it a four-point game.
With momentum seemingly on their side, the Comets were hit with a foul. The foul was the most questionable of the night, as it appeared as though T-Vs Wolfe who was clearly using his arm to push off a Fallsburg player.
Wolfe made both of the subsequent free throws to extend the lead back to six points. Fallsburg would not give up, and Gates appeared to have scored and fouled, which would have made the score 49-45 with him on the free-throw line. Instead, one of the referees said the basket didnt count. Gates then stepped up to the foul line and missed both shots.
Still, Fallsburg refused to give in. The Comets held their ground defensively, and score twice in a row, including a lay-in by Frasier to make it a two-point game.
Neck and neck, the game looked like it was going to go down the wire. Instead one of the officials made yet another foul call on Fallsburg, putting Wolfe on the free-throw line. Wolfe made both shots, and would continue to do so throughout the final two minutes. He hit a lay-up with 1:47 to put his team up 54-47.
On a play soon thereafter, a Fallsburg player appeared to have stripped the ball cleanly from a T-V player, but it was called a foul, which sent the Bears back to the line. Fallsburg was forced to foul the rest of the way to try and stop the time.
Afterwards, T-V Coach Jason Semo called the play of his team outstanding.
I am very happy for the kids, he said.
Semo said his team has worked hard all year, and deserved the victory. He credited Wolfe, along with the other Bear seniors, with giving the team poise and leadership.
T-V improved to 1-8 overall, and 1-1 in Division IV play. The Bears will travel to Eldred tomorrow night to face the Yellowjackets in a non-league contest.
Marsden called the game a hard-fought battle. He said the Bears did a good job offensively, and said his team was young and would improve with experience.
He said that allowing Kaplan to pick up an offensive rebound down the stretch was a critical mistake. He was upset with the two officials for several of the aforementioned calls against his team, and for not calling certain fouls on T-V.
Marsden credited Wolfe for hitting his free throws in the final two minutes. Marsden noted that his team probably should have fouled somebody else.
Fallsburg dropped to 0-8 overall and 0-3 in Division IV. The team will travel to Roscoe tomorrow night to meet the Blue Devils in a non-league game.