By Rob Potter
MIDDLETOWN December 29, 2006 The Sullivan West Lady Bulldogs suffered their first defeat of the 2006-2007 basketball season on Wednesday afternoon at the Middletown Holiday Classic tournament.
The host Middletown Lady Bears pulled away in the fourth quarter to post a 47-40 victory over the Lady Bulldogs.
With the win, Middletown (2-4) advanced to the title game versus John S. Burke Catholic High School. The championship contest was scheduled to be played at 2 p.m. yesterday at Middletown High School.
SW, which dropped to 5-1, was slated to meet Midwood of New York City at noon yesterday in the consolation game.
Middletown enjoyed a 17-13 lead at halftime of Wednesday’s opening-round contest and then expanded its advantage in the third period. Lady Bear guard Taj Anthony made a 3-point shot with 4:51 left in the frame to give her team a 24-16 lead.
However, the Lady Bulldogs closed the gap to just two points moments later.
With 2:02 displayed on the scoreboard clock, SW’s Lindsey Murphy grabbed an offensive rebound and put the ball back up and into the hoop. Just 34 seconds after that, teammate Sarah Lander swished a pair of foul shots to narrow the Lady Bears’ lead to 27-25.
With eight seconds left in the frame, SW’s Katrina Graby scored a basket to knot the contest at 29-29.
In the first three minutes of the final quarter, Middletown took a 37-29 lead. Senior guard Lindsay Perez scored a pair of baskets and teammates Janelle Nixon and Dominique Prioleau each added one basket.
At the 4:11 mark, Nixon scored to give the Lady Bears their largest lead of the contest at 39-30.
SW was able to close to within five points at 40-35 when Rachel Houghtaling made a foul shot with 1:26 left.
The Lady Bulldogs made it a four-point game at 42-38 with 1:01 remaining when Donna Kelly swished a 3-point shot.
SW was forced to foul the Lady Bears in the final minute in order to save time.
Middletown proceeded to make 5-of-8 shots at the free-throw line in that last minute to seal its seven-point victory.
Three players scored in double figures to lead the Lady Bears to the win. Anthony recorded a game-high 13 points, which included a trio of successful 3-point shots. Perez added 12 points and Nixon had 11 points.
Prioleau recorded six points for the Lady Bears.
Middletown Coach Christine Medina noted that her team really needed a win after losing four of its first five games this season.
“That was a nice win,” Medina said.
She pointed out that rebounding was a key factor in the Lady Bears’ victory.
“We did a great job of boxing out and rebounding,” Medina said. “In our last game against Pine Bush, we didn’t rebound well. We decided to focus on that today and were able to rebound better.”
She also praised the performances of juniors Kara Garnere and Kristina Hasbrouck, both of whom are in their first year on the varsity squad.
“They both came off the bench and did an outstanding job,” Medina said.
“The whole team worked hard today and I’m extremely proud of them,” she added.
Kelly was the Lady Bulldogs’ leading scorer. She recorded 12 points, thanks to four successful 3-point shots.
Lander finished with eight points, while Graby posted seven points.
Murphy and Jenn Pitz each added four points for the Lady Bulldogs.
SW Coach Ron Bernhardt was quick to point out what hurt his team throughout the contest.
“The story of the game is that we shot 12-of-27 at the free-throw line,” he said. “This is the second straight game we have shot below 50 percent at the line.”
Bernhardt noted that the Lady Bulldogs played well in spots, but were not consistent.
“Middletown is a Class AA team and their team quickness is something we are just not used to,” he said.
But the veteran coach was quick to note that his players “gave a full effort.”
Bernhardt noted that he, like most coaches, hates to lose games, but said that a defeat against a Class AA team like Middletown may be beneficial in the long run.
“Playing against tougher competition will hopefully make us better when our league schedule rolls around,” he commented.