Democrat Photo by Nathan Mayberg
THE LIBERTY INDIANS won the boys division championship of the Sullivan Generals Summer Basketball League. Kneeling are Dashawn Williamson, left, and Ivan Rivera. Standing from left to right are Joe Toscano, LaKarri Byrd, Tyrone White, Mac Isseks, Andre Brand, Pete Panagakos, Jihad Amika, Devin Williamson, Connor Hinton, Coach Scott David Slater and Coach Scott Harmon.
For the Title
By Nathan Mayberg
LOCH SHELDRAKE August 9, 2005 The championship games of the Sullivan County Community College summer basketball league offered an exciting sneak preview of what should be some of the areas top high school basketball teams for the 2005-2006 season.
Both of the title contests were nail-biters. In the boys final, a talented Liberty squad took down a young, scrappy Sullivan West team by a final score of 39-34. On the girls side, Downsville, a team consisting of many of the girls who played on the schools team that was the New York State Class D runner-up this past season, needed two minutes of overtime to repel a quality effort by Sullivan West.
In the boys game, a talented group of Liberty players showed signs of being an even better team this winter. While no official statistics were kept, they had an array of leaders, including the Andre Brand, a hustling, high-leaping rebounder and defensive standout, and sharp shooting guard LaKarri Byrd.
Byrd was clearly the best shooter on the court. There was no room between the teams for most of the game. Alan Ackermann established a strong, tough physical inside presence for the SW Bulldogs. The team graduated some of its best players last season, including stars Sean Kelly, Joe Meyer and Joe Winski.
Paul Pitz was highly active in the guard role for the Bulldogs. He was arguably the most athletic player on the squad and connected on one shot while fading back in the air. He was a strong defender as well, pick pocketing several Liberty players.
The Bulldogs had a better offensive system, and went to the free throw line much more often than their rivals. Both teams were gritty defensively, and there was a multitude of blocked shots.
In the end, however, the raw talent of the Indians was too much for the Bulldogs to handle.
Downsville Defeats SW in OT
The Sullivan West Lady Bulldogs almost took down one of the states best teams in Downsville. But the Delaware County team defeated SW 47-41 in overtime.
SW proved they will be a major force this year, and should be hard to beat in Section IX Class B competition.
The Lady Eagles proved how they won the Section IV Class D championship and advanced to the state finals last season by displaying an explosive offense and physical defense. Guard Stephanie Shellman, who will be a freshman in the 2005-2006 academic year, was almost unstoppable from outside. She nailed one jumper after the other with a cool, smooth, silky shot. She was also a nuisance on defense, making a couple steals.
Guard Alexa Henderson and forward Courtney Hoyt, both of whom will be seniors this year, were speedy, offensive powerhouses and made several steals on the other end of the floor. Hoyt was also a superb rebounder during the game, which was fairly physical by both squads.
In overtime, the key was Henderson, who nailed two critical 3-pointers to seal the victory.
For SW, Kate Fanning was an absolute standout. She almost single-handedly won the game towards the end of regulation with a series of big plays offensively. The team also received solid all-around efforts from several other players, including April Ackermann, Erin Bernhardt, Donna Kelly and Jennifer Pitz.
Downsville Coach Christine Baldaut said that one of the reasons for the success of her team is that five of the squads members have been playing together since the eighth grade.
They came through when they had to, she said of her teams performance. We had some good shooting in the end in overtime. We hung in and played smart.
Bryan Bury, the Director of the Sullivan Generals Summer League, said he was proud of the season, which started July 5 and featured seven girls teams and six boys teams. The girls division included teams from Downsville, Ellenville, Fallsburg, Livingston Manor, Liberty, Roscoe and SW. The boys division featured the junior varsity as well as the varsity Sullivan West teams, Hancock, Liberty, Livingston Manor and Roscoe.
Bury thanked Alan Jacovino from Daytop Village for sending over several people to assist in running the scoreboard and score clock. He also extended his appreciation to Kyle Walter for serving as an official and for coordinating the schedules of the other officials.