By Rob Potter
LAKE HUNTINGTON February 28, 2006 Heading into Friday nights non-league boys varsity basketball game, the visiting Port Jervis Red Raiders and Sullivan West Bulldogs had different agendas.
For the Port Jervis players and coaches, their goal was simple win to get in. In other words, a victory over the SW Bulldogs would ensure the Red Raiders a spot in this weeks Section IX Class A basketball tournament.
For the SW players and coaches, they wanted to play competitively yet avoid any injuries since the team had already clinched a berth in the Section IX Class B tourney the previous evening by defeating the Tri-Valley Bears.
Port Jervis (10-10) accomplished its objective, beginning the game with an 8-0 scoring run and proceeding to post a 58-24 victory.
SW (10-9) also met its goal as the starting five players were on the court only during the first quarter. Several Bulldogs who did not receive a great deal of playing time in previous games got to compete throughout the contest and the starters had the opportunity to rest up for the teams first sectional game.
(SW will open the Class B tourney tomorrow night at John S. Burke Catholic High School in Goshen. At 7 p.m., the Bulldogs, seeded seventh, will face the home standing No. 2 seed Eagles in a quarterfinal game.)
Pacing the Red Raiders offense, including the early scoring runs in which they took an 8-0 lead in the first two-and-a-half minutes and a 15-4 advantage at the end of the first quarter, were senior guard Chris Rohrer and senior forward John Grogan. Rohrer, who connected on a trio of 3-point shots during the contest, scored a game-high 15 points and Grogan netted 10 points.
Another senior, Vinny Malzahn, added eight points for Port Jervis.
?The top scorer for the Bulldogs was junior forward Ben Kleiner, who netted eight points.
Following the game, the Port players, coaches, cheerleaders and fans took a few moments to celebrate the schools first trip to the sectionals since 1997.
Im happy to get the win, Port Jervis Coach Ron Semerano said. We started the season at one and five, but these guys worked hard and didnt give up. I am just very proud of them.
Semerano added that he was especially happy for the teams four seniors Grogan, Malzahn, Rohrer and Jason Wallace.
SW Coach Rick Ellison said he was happy to give many of the reserve players a chance to have significant minutes.
He was also thinking ahead to tomorrow nights game against Burke, which defeated SW in both of the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division IV games that the Bulldogs and Eagles played during the regular season.
The veteran coach noted that defeating Burke without Derek Hahn would be difficult. Hahn, a 6-foot-5 junior center who started the majority of the Bulldogs games this year, suffered a knee injury two weeks ago and is not expected to return to the court until next season.
But we will play very hard, Ellison said of the Bulldogs. Its a big tournament and because its high school basketball, anything can happen.