By Ted Waddell
LAKE HUNTINGTON December 29, 2006 All it took was a ‘3’ at the two-second mark.
Just when it looked like the host Sullivan West Bulldogs were headed for a non-league hoops win last Friday night as they held a 47-45 lead over the Rhinebeck Hawks with less than 10 seconds left on the game clock, the visitors fired a 3-pointer from outside the arc to defeat SW, 48-47, at the buzzer.
While a few fans in the stands said the pass to Rhinebeck’s Wesley Kane from teammate Corey Van Wagner bounced off a knee, which could have been considered a double dribble, the referees could not call what they didn’t see.
But the Bulldog coaches did not cry foul.
“You never win or lose a basketball game on one play,” SW Assistant Coach Bob Menges said. “There are certain instances throughout a game that go one team’s way, and not the other.
“Basketball is basketball,” he added, noting that SW missed a couple of layups in the first quarter which were shots, that if they had been made, could have been deciding factors in the Bulldogs’ heartbreaking loss.
SW (4-3) outscored the Hawks 11-8 in the first period. The Bulldogs and Rhinebeck (2-1) each recorded 13 points in the second quarter, which enabled SW to take a slim 24-21 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter, Rhinebeck outscored the home team, 14-9. But SW edged the visitors by a point (14-13) in the final period.
At 7:26 in the final frame, James Spruill put the Bulldogs up 36-35 as he made a pair of shots at the free-throw line.
Rhinebeck’s Corey Van Wagner tied the game at 36-36 by making a foul shot.
At about the four-minute mark, SW senior guard Kevin Cappiello nailed a 3-pointer. The successful shot from beyond the 19-foot, 9-inch arc gave the Bulldogs a 39-36 lead.
Derek Hahn, the Bulldogs’ shot-blocking specialist with a set of paws that would look right at home on a Doberman, snatched a three-way direct circuit pass under the glass for a bucket.
John Dunne responded for the Hawks with a 3-point shot at 2:26. Then at the 2:03 mark, Kane made a 3-pointer from way outside to cut the SW lead to four points (44-40).
At 1:59 Cappiello stepped up to the free-throw line and made one of his two shots.
Kane then dissected the Bulldogs’ defense for a bucket.
With less than 20 seconds left, Jason Leewe made a bucket from the free-throw line, giving the Bulldogs a short-lived 47-45 advantage.
Then came Van Wagner’s pass to Kane at the buzzer.
And it was all over.
In a game last season against Onteora, Kane fired a shot from outside the arc to give Rhinebeck a victory as time ran out.
“Last time, I had to set up and shoot it, but this time it was like a lucky shot,” said Kane, an 18-year-old senior.
Double-digit scorers for SW included Hahn (13 points), Leewe (12 points) and Cappiello (11 points).
Kane led Rhinebeck with 15 points, while Brandon Scott added 14 points.
Stats from the free-throw line: SW went 9-for-19 (47 percent); Rhinebeck was 6-for-13 (46 percent).
“It was a phenomenal effort,” Rhinebeck Coach David Aierstok said.
“The biggest thing was our defense, and they never quit,” he added. “Any coach will tell you, and you hear it on TV, if you come out to play on defense, you’ll do well. We were outsized, but we worked hard and we gave it our all.”
Menges called it a “very good high school basketball game”.
“Rhinebeck played very hard and very tough,” he said. “They just outhustled us and got more second shot opportunities than we did.”
His take on the season?
“We have a young, inexperienced team, but we are doing well,” Menges said. “We’re going through some good times, and some bad times.”
Returning from last year’s SW team are Alan Ackermann, Cappiello, Kienan Garn, Hahn and Kevin Pinkel.
“Overall, I’m pleased,” Menges commented.