By Ted Waddell
GRAHAMSVILLE December 22, 2006 Heading off to the locker room for halftime while trailing 35-18 has got to be tough, and things did not get a whole lot better on Tuesday night for The Family School Falcons as they were defeated 70-36 by the host Tri-Valley Bears in a non-league basketball game.
The Bears outscored the Falcons in every quarter: 13-8, 22-10, 22-10 and 13-8 even though the home team coach felt comfortable enough to send in his bench players in the final periods, thus giving his starters a bit of a well-deserved breather.
T-V (5-0) snagged the tip-off and within the first 30 seconds John Merchant and Dustin VanLieu ripped off back-to-back buckets as the home team blasted its way to a 11-4 lead by the four-minute mark.
Late in the game, Merchant passed the basketball to fellow senior Fred Moore who electrified the crowd with a slam dunk, in a move the two hoopsters practice just for this opportunity.
“I felt him behind me, and I knew he wanted the dunk,” said Merchant, a 17-year-old senior.
“We practice that all the time,” Merchant said of the move that proved practice really does make perfect.
“It was a good win, we came out on top and played good defense,” added Merchant, who has been playing basketball at T-V since he was in the seventh grade and has racked up about 600 points in his varsity career.
Both teams came to play, backed by spirited cheerleading squads.
Meanwhile, up in the home team stands, a small group of students known for their zany antics and self-decoration in school colors kicked up a storm.
Meet the self-styled ‘Crazies of Tri-Valley”: Matt Garigliano, Dan Byrne, Dylan Everett, James Knapp and Kyle Byrne.
On the other side of the gym, a band of Merchant’s rooted for their favorite hoopster, a small cadre of relatives who held their own in the department of noise generation.
Double-digit scorers for the Bears included Merchant, who finished with a game-high 19 points, Moore (14 points) and Dustin Van Lieu (12 points).
For The Family School, Chris Durand scored a team-best 13 points.
Stats from the free throw line: T-V 5-of-10 (50 percent), The Family School 10-of-19 (53 percent).
“I thought the first period was good, and we played OK, but the second half was really theirs,” Family School Coach Ted Towsley said.
“They went into the locker room, made their adjustments and ran the zone on us,” he added.
“We’re a young team, we’re rebuilding and we’re getting there.”
Brian Tingley is in his first season as the head coach of the T-V squad.
Tingley, who is also the Coordinator of the Sullivan County Interacademic League (SCIL), takes a similar approach to the game of hoops. He feels that planning out a series of strategies is a good way to meet both the anticipated and unexpected challenges.
Before the game, Tingley outlined four goals for his players on a chalkboard in the weight room: get more assists than turnovers, make more free throws than the opposition, get at least 14 points on break and keep the Falcons to under 40 points.
And then there was Tingley’s short list labeled “Keys.” Among those “Keys” were: focus on the big men “let’s make it a habit” and “we out,” a reminder to make a fast break down the court as soon as they get the ball.
“It’s about planning,” Tingley said. “We try to plan for the contingencies.”