By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO The Cornwall boys’ basketball team is a force to be reckoned with this season.
Last Friday, the Dragons proved their undefeated record was no fluke with a strong showing against host Monticello in an Orange County Interscholastic
Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division III game.
Cornwall’s 63-46 victory was a result of an energetic, tenacious effort on both sides of the court.
Peter Bradley led the way with 22 points as the Dragons improved to 6-0 overall this season and 2-0 in Division III.
Cornwall center Sean D’aura, who scored nine points, was a physical presence down low the entire game.
The Dragons held the advantage early, but nearly lost the lead in the second quarter due to a furious scoring run by Monticello (3-4, 0-2 Division III).
Cornwall Coach Tom Howe wisely called a timeout to settle down his players and quiet the boisterous home crowd.
When the Dragons returned to the floor, they put an end to the Panthers’ scoring run.
The Dragons were also aided by a number of foul calls that went their way. In all, Cornwall was 12-of-24 from the free-throw line, holding a sizable advantage over the Panthers in the number of foul shots attempted.
One of the main keys to Cornwall’s success was the team’s ability to cause turnovers. The Dragons routinely pressured the Monticello guards from the time they touched the ball at the other end of the court, and then trapped them at halfcourt.
Cornwall point guard Mike O’Rourke was instrumental to his team’s victory. He pushed the ball aggressively up the court on every possession. The Dragons’ uptempo style kept the Panthers on their heels the entire contest.
Another roadblock to a Monticello victory was the outstanding defensive performance by the Cornwall players inside the paint. The long arms of the team’s forwards blocked the passing lanes, which limited the Panthers to mostly outside shots, particularly in the second half.
The Panthers’ second quarter scoring run enabled them to narrow the Dragons’ advantage to four points (19-15) before Cornwall pulled away. By halftime, the Dragons extended their lead to double digits at 38-25.
Pacing the Monticello offense was senior center Mike Normann, who recorded 14 points. Senior guard Omar Diaz, who displayed a great outside shot, added 10 points for the Panthers.
Following the game, Monticello Coach Dick O’Neill pledged his team would improve as the season went on.
“We will get better,” he said. “We played good for a half. We will be a better basketball team, I promise that.”
O’Neill also gave due credit to the Dragons.
“They have a lot of presence,” the veteran coach commented. “We need to play with a lot of confidence and intensity.”
Howe said that “both teams played very, very hard.
“Both teams played excellent defense,” he added. “This is the toughest team we had to play against all year.”