By Rob Potter
LAKE HUNTINGTON January 6, 2006 After several momentum swings, Wednesday nights boys basketball game at Sullivan West High School was not decided until the final seconds.
A layup by Paul Pitz as the buzzer sounded sealed the SWs 66-62 win over a very determined Family School team. With three seconds left in the fourth quarter, The Family Schools Andrew Van Riper swished a 3-point shot to bring the Falcons to within a basket at 64-62.
Following a timeout, SWs Brett Youmans threw a long inbounds pass to Pitz, who caught the ball near the Bulldogs basket. Pitz quickly ran to the hoop and put the ball up above the rim. The ball fell through the net as the horn sounded, eliciting a loud cheer from the partisan SW crowd.
SW (5-2) outscored The Family School 26-14 in the first quarter. But Family School Coach Ted Towsley changed his defensive strategy in the second period, going from a strict man-to-man defense to a full-court press. The switch slowed the Bulldogs offense and by halftime, SWs lead had been cut to just four points, 34-30.
The teams exchanged the lead four times in the third period, but the Bulldogs took a 49-47 advantage into the fourth quarter.
With just over two minutes left in the contest, SWs Kevin Cappiello hit a 3-pointer to give the Bulldogs a 61-54 lead.
But in those minutes The Family School (7-1) rebounded to leave the games outcome in doubt until the final horn. The Falcons took advantage of a successful 3-point shot by Shervin Nassi, Van Ripers aforementioned long-distance basket and six missed free throws by the Bulldogs to make the game a nail-biter.
This was a big win for us, SW Coach Rick Ellison said. You have to give The Family School a lot of credit. The team does not quit, no matter what the score is. That is a credit to Ted [Towsley], his coaching staff and the players.
With his team slated to begin Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division IV play by hosting Liberty tonight, Ellison noted that the Bulldogs really needed a victory to build some momentum heading into the rest of the season. Prior to defeating the Falcons, SW had lost its previous two games to Cornwall and Monticello, respectively.
In addition to praising the performances of Cappiello and Derek Hahn, Ellison said that Pitz played his best game of the year.
Cappiello finished with a game-high 23 points and Hahn, who scored several baskets inside the lane in the first half, recorded 19 points.
Pitz had 10 points and Kevin Brewer added seven for the Bulldogs.
We just didnt have an answer for number 44 or number 21, said Towsley, referring to Hahn and Cappiello, respectively.
While his team suffered its first loss of the season, Towsley took an optimistic view of the outcome.
I cant be [too] disappointed with this loss, he said. Sullivan West is a great team. To play a tough Class B team like that right down to the final seconds will be good for us down the road.
Ben Laufer led the Falcons with 20 points. Van Riper had 11 points and Chris Durand recorded 10 points.