By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO January 25, 2005 The Monticello Panthers squeaked by Goshen, 55-51, in a tight battle between two divisional rivals Friday evening in Monticello.
The Panthers scored the win in large part due to a furious second quarter run in which they racked up a 38-23 lead by halftime of the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division III contest.
Once again, the team was led by the standout effort of guard Brad Cooper. The Panthers senior co-captain finished with 17 points, including several big shots down the stretch.
Point guard and co-captain Luis Paredes put forth another strong effort, racking up 16 points and providing his team with continuous intensity. Forward Sinan Tertimez continued his solid play and contributed 12 points.
Goshen (5-6, 1-1 Division III) played a tougher game in the second half, and nearly rallied for the victory. They were led by the potent forward combination of Kieran Payne and Kyle Jung. Payne had a game-high 18 points, while Jung netted 10 points. Guard Kamaal Mabry had an exceptional shooting performance for the Gladiators and finished the evening with 12 points.
The Panthers began the game with a strong defense. After forward Sean Thompson made a strong move in the lane to score the first basket, the Monties pressured the Goshen offense into several turnovers. Paredes capitalized on one of those turnovers and ran quickly down the court for a breakaway layup. The guard hit a nice jump shot early on as well.
Payne responded with two baskets of his own. He was tough on the boards as well.
Cooper followed soon thereafter with some crowd-pleasing acrobatics. He began with a steal deep in the Panthers end of the court, flashed some outstanding dribbling skills as well as a polished spin move, ran the length of the court, flew into the air for a shot and drew a foul.
Monticello (6-3, 1-0 Division III) held an 8-6 lead a little more than three minutes into the game and Goshen took a quick timeout. When play resumed, Gladiator guard Nick Turi connected on a 3-point shot. Goshen also picked up its defensive intensity, which put the Panthers slightly off-kilter offensively.
Tertimez hit a 3-pointer to give his team back the lead and momentum. Several Goshen turnovers followed, which led to a few easy Monticello baskets.
However, Goshen once again responded. Mabry swished a timely 3-pointer, which narrowed the Panthers lead to 15-12 by the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was the key for the Panthers. They zoomed to a roaring start on a creative layup by Paredes, as he drew a foul off a slicing penetration move to the hoop.
Monticello center Devan Jackson blocked a shot by a Goshen player not too long later, which triggered an inspired Panthers run that was assisted in no small measure to a constant full-court press. Tertimez flashed a smooth shooting touch throughout the period by nailing several jumpers, including a 3-pointer from the corner. Cooper topped that off with a four- point play as he made a free throw after being fouled on a successful 3-point shot.
The third quarter was a new ballgame, and the Gladiators proved to be committed defensively. They started to block the passing lanes, causing multiple turnovers and transition baskets. By the end of the third quarter, the Monticello lead was down to seven points, 42-35.
Paredes stepped up his play, drawing a foul while making a long two-point field goal. He swished the subsequent foul shot to complete and old-fashioned 3-pointer.
Mabry stood up for Goshen, and proved to be a serious force. He ignited another Gladiators rally with his strong offensive and defensive play. He had two crucial baskets during the Goshen run, which narrowed Monticellos lead to a skin-tight two points (45-43) with 5:12 left in the game.
The intense Goshen defense continued to cause turnovers and the team finally tied the game at 45-45.
It was at that point that Cooper took over the game to thwart the efforts of the very determined Goshen squad. With 1:36 remaining, Cooper hit a 3-pointer to give the lead back to the Panthers and the team never relinquished that advantage.
However, Goshen did not go quietly.
Payne was tough for the Panthers to control. His basket inside closed Monticellos lead to just two points with 27 seconds left. But Goshen failed to score again.
Afterwards, Goshen Coach Joe Guarneiri refused to comment on the game.
Monticello Coach Dick ONeill said the victory was a big win for us. He noted that Goshen recently defeated Cornwall, which is another division rival.
ONeill described the nights game as really exciting. He said his team did a truly outstanding job defensively, particularly with the two big forwards Goshen threw at them.
ONeill said his team hustled throughout the game, which has been their staple this season. He credited Paredes for providing energy and emotion that his teammates fed off of. The veteran coach also acknowledged the performance by Cooper, whom he called an excellent player..