By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO January 17, 2006 Last Thursday nights boys basketball game at Monticello High School featured a little bit of everything.
Buzzer-beating shots, players making clutch free throws, an overtime session and two Monticello players breaking longstanding school records were all part of the show as visiting Goshen and Monticello squared off in an Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division III game.
When all was said and done, Monticello had earned an 85-81 victory over a very determined Goshen squad.
Leading the Panthers to the win were senior guard Brad Cooper and junior center Mike Normann. Cooper set a new Monticello Central School single-game scoring record by pouring in 43 points. The old record of 42 points was set by Kelly Young in 1975.
On his way to setting the new record, Cooper made six 3-point shots and was a perfect 9-of-9 at the free-throw line.
Normann, who scored 26 points, grabbed 30 rebounds to set a new Monticello record in that category. Young held the old mark of 24 boards in a single contest.
But even with those two outstanding individual performances, Monticello (7-3, 2-0 Div. III) needed overtime to defeat the Gladiators.
Cooper had seemingly sealed a victory for the Panthers when he broke a 70-70 tie by swishing a 3-pointer from the top of the key with just four seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. As soon as the ball fell through the net, the partisan Monticello crowd erupted with loud cheers.
But through the din, Goshen Coach Joe Guanieri was able to voice his request for a timeout to the referees. The timeout was granted and the clock was reset to :03.
When play resumed, Goshens Jerell Lucas took the inbounds pass and weaved his way past a couple of Monticello defenders. As he neared the 3-point line and the clock ticked down to a single second remaining, Lucas launched a shot. The ball fell through the net as the buzzer sounded, knotting the contest at 73-73.
Midway through the subsequent overtime period, Goshen (3-7, 0-2 Div. III) took a 78-77 lead when William Green drilled a 3-pointer from the corner.
But Normann answered with a hoop of his own 20 seconds later to give the Panthers a 79-78 advantage.
And Monticello held the lead for the rest of the way.
With just over a minute left in OT, Cooper gave the Monties an 81-78 lead. After Goshen came up empty at the foul line and missed a putback attempt, Normann grabbed the rebound to give the Panthers another possession. Following a timeout, Normann put back his own missed shot to extend the Monticello lead to 83-78.
Cooper swished a pair of foul shots with eight seconds left to push the Monti lead to seven points (85-78).
Lucas made a 3-pointer with four seconds left to cut the Gladiators deficit to four points, but they could not get any closer.
It was a great high school basketball game, Guanieri said.
Lucas made eight 3-pointers in the game and paced the Goshen offense with a total of 38 points.
Coopers perfect night at the free-throw line helped the Panthers convert 15-of-21 of their foul shots.
In addition to his 43 points, Cooper grabbed 12 rebounds, dished out six assists and made four steals.
It was an incredible game, Monticello Coach Dick ONeill said. It was very exciting. The teams went back and fourth, there was an ebb and flow to the game and there were several lead changes. Both teams made some excellent plays.
In addition to praising the outstanding performances by Cooper and Lucas, ONeill noted the improvements that Normann has made the season.
Hes becoming a force for us in the middle, the veteran coach said. He has been in double figures in rebounds the past seven games.
ONeill also noted the spirited effort put forth by the Gladiators.
You have to give them a lot of credit for the way they played tonight, ONeill commented. We played well, too, and it was a nice win for us.