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TRI-VALLEY’S JOHN Merchant dribbles past Sullivan West defender Sean Semenetz during a non-league game this past season.

Tri-Valley Works
Through Tough Season

By Justin Gottschalk
GRAHAMSVILLE — April 1, 2005 – Overall Record: 6-15
Division Record: 4-2 OCIAA Division V
Top Players: The Bears’ leading scorer during the 2004-2005 season was Michael Kaplan. He scored a total of 220 points, which was an average 10.3 points a game. Kaplan also shot 71 percent from the foul line.
The Bears’ leading rebounder was John Merchant, who just missed averaging a double-double for the season. He averaged 9.2 points and 11.4 rebounds per game.
Despite playing in only 13 games, senior Travis Wolfe was the team’s second leading scorer. He averaged 9.4 points per game and was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player by the other players. A clutch performer, Wolfe shot 86 percent from the foul line in the fourth quarter.
Season Highlight: “I think our big turning point this season was probably against Eldred,” Coach Jason Semo said. “We were down 16 at the half and were led by our eighth-grader, Dustin Van Lieu. He scored 21 of his 29 points in the second half. We were in a lot of foul trouble and everything else, and it proved that as a team we could come back.”
“The following game we played Sullivan West, which was a real reality check for us,” Semo continued. “We really prepared very well for it and I think it was the first game of the season where we played at a varsity level. From that point on, we went on a nice little run. We had started the season 0-8 and then all of a sudden the last week of the season we ended up knocking off Tuxedo, who hadn’t lost a game, then we knocked off Chester. That put us in a three-way tie for first [place] in our division.”
Season Lowlight: “The beginning of the season. Travis Wolfe was really our only returning starter from last year, and he was injured,” Semo said. “I had a lot of kids that were involved in football, a lot that were involved in cross-country – so I think just getting started in the beginning was a low point for us because we didn’t have a chance to come together real early. But that lowlight kind of turned into a high point because when everything came together I think the kids really had a sense of team unity.”
“It was a great season to be a part of, just seeing that mesh come together,” Semo added.
Other: “We’re a very young team,” Semo said. “I started two sophomores and an eighth-grader, and to have as much success as we did, obviously those three young players did a great job for us. But it was all really possible because they were able to pick up the system through our seniors.î
The Bears lose four seniors to graduation: Abram Leon, Matt Smith, Jon Waxman and Wolfe.

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