By Lori Brown
GRAHAMSVILLE February 28, 2006 Prior to the start of Thursday nights non-league varsity boys basketball game, the host Tri-Valley Bears had a presentation to honor the seniors of the team. Each senior gave a rose to his parents in recognition of all their support over the years.
In addition, the starting five for T-V in its last home game of this season were those three seniors Ian Exner, Zach Thayer, Dan Walter along with freshmen Ryan VanLieu and Dustin VanLieu.
The Bears had already qualified for this weeks Section IX Class C tournament, so the game against the Sullivan West Bulldogs was a good way to prepare for sectionals.
However, Sullivan West needed to defeat T-V (13-7) to earn a spot in the Section IX Class B tourney. The Bulldogs did just that by defeating the Bears, 42-36.
Naturally, the SW players and coaches were very excited after this victory.
During the first five minutes of the game, SW (10-9) dominated the court. With two minutes remaining on the clock in the first quarter, Exner swished a 3-pointer to finally put T-V on the scoreboard. Going into the second period, SW held a nine-point lead over the Bears.
T-V was first to score points in the stanza and by the end of the quarter, the Bears had the Bulldogs on the run.
But SW enjoyed a slim 16-14 lead at halftime and it seemed as though the second half would be as close and competitive as the first.
SW started pulling away in the third quarter. For the Bears, Dan Walter and Ryan VanLieu scored four points each, but it was not enough to gain the lead. The Bulldogs extended their lead by 10 points by the end of the quarter.
During the last period, TVs John Merchant had scored eight points for his team, but the Bulldogs also continued shooting well. In the last minute of play, SW made four foul shots just to seal the victory.
Despite coming up a bit short on the scoreboard, T-V Coach Jason Semo was very proud of how his team played during the game.
We played great defense and did a good job on the boards, he said.
Our three seniors played great and made great contributions to the team, Semo added.
Merchant finished the evening with a team-high 12 points, while Walter added 10 points.
Coach Semo also said that the Bulldogs played hard and kept their focus during the game.
This was a hard fought win and we made it into sectionals, SW Coach Rick Ellison said.
He also said that Coach Semo has done well this year.
Ellison also praised junior Alan Ackermann for doing a great job as the starting center. Ackermann was filling in Derek Hahn, who has been the Bulldogs starting center most of the year but suffered a knee injury earlier this month.
Kevin Cappiello led the SW offense with 13 points, while Alan Ackermann netted eight points.