By Rob Potter
GRAHAMSVILLE January 24, 2006 The visiting Tuxedo Tornadoes used a third-quarter scoring surge to break a 27-27 halftime tie with the Tri-Valley Bears in Thursday nights Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division V basketball game.
Tuxedo outscored T-V 20 to 12 in that key third period and then held off a Bears comeback attempt in the fourth quarter to post a 61-56 victory.
Tuxedo improved to 7-4 overall and 4-0 in Division V play. T-V fell to 10-2 and 2-1, respectively.
The two squads exchanged the lead three times in the first minutes of the pivotal third period. With 4:08 remaining in the stanza, Tri-Valleys Fred Moore scored inside thanks to a great pass from teammate John Merchant. Moores hoop gave the Bears a 37-34 advantage.
Tuxedo erased that deficit when Steve Zukoski swished a 3-point shot seconds after players from both teams had gone over strategy with their coaches during a timeout.
At the 3:13 mark, Merchant made a free throw to give the Bears a 38-37 lead.
About one minute later, Baumann nailed a 3-pointer to give the Tornadoes a 40-38 advantage.
Unfortunately for the Bears and their hometown fans, Tuxedo did not relinquish that advantage for the rest of the contest.
The Tornadoes closed the third quarter with a 7-1 scoring run, punctuated with yet another successful shot by Baumann from beyond the 19-foot, 9-inch arc. The 3-pointer, which occurred with just two seconds on the clock, gave Tuxedo a 47-39 lead entering the final eight minutes of play.
Tuxedos advantage expanded to 10 points just over a minute into the fourth period as Chris Francis scored a basket.
T-V closed to within four points at 53-49 when Merchant swished a 17-foot jump shot with 1:16 remaining.
With just 14 seconds left, T-Vs Dustin Van Lieu banked home a 3-pointer to bring his team to within three points at 59-56.
But Baumann and Mike Farrell each went 1-for-2 at the free-throw line in the final seconds to ensure the Tornadoes five-point win.
Baumann scored a game-high 26 points and Zukoski netted 18 points. Both players made a trio of 3-point shots in the contest.
Francis added eight points for Tuxedo.
Its always a battle when we play Tri-Valley, Tuxedo Coach Marco Margotta said. I think this the first time we have won a game up here in four or five years. This is always a tough place for a visiting team to play, so its good to get this win.
Margotta also praised Baumann for his performance, noting the that the senior point guard came up big for us tonight.
Pacing the Bears offense were Moore, who scored 21 points, and Merchant, who registered 12 points.
Ryan Van Lieu and Mike Kaplan added nine and eight points, respectively, for T-V.
T-V Coach Jason Semo noted that Baumann and Zukoski were the two players who caused the most problems for his squad.
Twenty-three of their first 27 points were scored by Baumann and Zukoski, Semo said.
Tuxedo played very well tonight, Semo added. They did a nice job.
The Bears leader was also impressed by Moore, a junior forward who recorded a double-double by grabbing 15 rebounds to go along with his 21 points.
Fred Moore had a very big night for us, Semo said. I was really pleased with his effort tonight.