By Ted Waddell
LAKE HUNTINGTON February 15, 2005 It was payback time for Sullivan West.
Earlier in the season, on their home court in Goshen, the John S. Burke Catholic School Eagles of Burke soared past the Sullivan West Bulldogs by 17 points.
On Friday night, spurred on by an enthusiastic home crowd, SW turned the tables on their Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association Division IV rivals by clipping the Eagles wings 56-43.
While the word up in the bleachers and on the bench was that everyone was waiting with baited breath for Burke to break out with a run that would end the Bulldogs hopes of a chance at winning the Division IV title, it never materialized.
SW (16-3 overall, 5-1 Division IV) began its way to victory by outscoring Burke 19-10 in the opening period. However, the Bulldogs only outscored the Eagles by a single point (12-11) in the second frame.
In the third quarter, SW led by as many as 17 points and outscored Burke by a 15-9 margin during those eight minutes of play.
Sean Semenetz, one of the Bulldogs top guns, was benched until the final quarter after picking up his third and fourth fouls in rapid succession in the third period.
Late in the game, Burke (13-6, 4-1 Division IV) upped its defensive intensity, creating a situation during which the Bulldogs failed to score for three to four minutes. The Eagles edged SW 13-10 in the fourth.
The final 50 seconds might go down in the record books as the longest less-than-a-minute remaining in a high school boys varsity basketball game as Burke tried to pull off a win by changing the momentum. The Eagles fouled just about every Bulldog on the floor in an effort to preserve precious seconds on the clock.
SW senior guard Joe Meyer was on fire. He scored a game-high 22 points in leading the Bulldogs to the victory.
It was a hard fought game by both teams, Meyer said. Down the stretch, we executed
got some big shots and free throws.
Were looking forward to keeping our divisional title, he added, referring to the fact that SW captured the OCIAA Division IV title in the 2003-2004 season.
Burke Coach Chris Neidig took over the helm of the Eagles this season in the wake of 20-plus years worth of coaching experience.
It was electric, he said of Fridays return match against the Bulldogs.
We beat them down in our place, and I knew that when we came up here wed see a different team, he added. They played very well, made the plays when they had to
[Sean] Semenetz shot the lights out in the first half.
Burkes first year varsity coach credited the play of his own players as well, especially Andrew Jackson and Jason Green. The duo paced the Burke offense, as Jackson scored 12 points and Green added 11 points.
They did a nice job inside, Neidig said of Green and Jackson.
We had our chances [to win], we just didnt get the buckets, Neidig added.
Noting the victory now ties the Bulldogs with Burke at the top of the Division IV standings, SW Coach Rick Ellison of the earlier loss, I was very disappointed with the way we played down there, because we didnt match their intensity on their court.
Going into the re-match on SWs home floor, Ellison said that he and Assistant Coaches Cliff Kelly and Bob Menges told their players that it was like going into the Section IX Class B, except both teams are going to be able to play the next day.
Joe Meyer really got us off to a great start, Ellison said. He was hitting his shots and very focused.
Also singled out for praise was sophomore forward Derek Hahn, who recorded 17 points.
He came off the bench and had a big game, Ellison commented.
Looking ahead to sectionals and perhaps beyond Ellison talked about the 2004-2005 season of hoops.
Weve had our ups and downs, and Im very happy to be where we are right now, he said. I have seven seniors on the team, and with their experience, they know when to turn the switch on or off.