By Ted Waddell
LIVINGSTON MANOR Sometimes it pays to break the rules.
In Monday night’s Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division VI boys’ basketball game between the home team Wildcats of Livingston Manor and the Chapel Field Lions, the “undercats” defeated the visitors, 50-45, thus upsetting the notion that larger cats always rule the jungle.
Chapel Field (3-3, 0-1 Div. VI) grabbed a quick 6-0 lead as Jimmy Green posted back-to-back 3-pointers.
Not to be denied any longer, Manor’s Mike Hendrickson rallied to the occasion and put his team on the scoreboard in a game that went down in the record books as a proverbial barnburner.
At 3:18 of the second period, the score was tied at 26-26. But Manor (4-2, 3-0 Div. VI) outscored the Lions 6-2 in those final three-plus minutes to take a four-point (32-28) halftime lead.
As the shot clock ran out with less than a minute left in the third quarter, Hendrickson beat the clock to put the Wildcats up 40-32.
Early in the fourth period, Green struck again from beyond the arc to reduce the Manor lead to single digits at 44-35.
Moments later, Wildcat senior forward Shane Lewis caught a half-court pass from teammate Claude Davis and scored another basket to put Manor up 47-39 with 2:17 remaining on the game clock.
Hendrickson passed off to Davis for a hard fought two-points in a battle under the glass. But Chapel Field’s Jesse Capalbo replied with a 3-pointer, narrowing the Wildcats’ lead to five points (49-44).
As the final seconds ticked away, both teams worked the clock with a few intentional fouls. With just 8.5 seconds left, Manor’s Justin Miranda closed out the scoring by going 1-for-2 at the free-throw line.
Lewis and Hendrickson paced the Manor offense with 16 points and 14 points, respectively. Hendrickson grabbed nine rebounds and Lewis had eight rebounds.
“Last year, we were run-and-gun, but this year we are more defensive-minded,” Chapel Field Coach Joe Canazon said. “We did what we had to do by holding these guys to 50 points, but maybe by midseason, we’ll get our offense together a little bit better.”
Canazon credited the play of Danny Menendez, one of his team’s key players. The veteran coach said that the Wildcats “did a number on him,” by holding Menendez to 22 points.
Manor Coach Charlie Hicks said that after a couple of miscues led to the Lions racking up that early 6-0 lead, the Wildcats dumped the zone defense for a press.
In the second quarter, Hicks switched his defense to a box-in-one, noting that he “rotated my guys to handle [Danny] Menendez. Hicks added that Troy Correa, a freshman coming off the bench, “helped make [Danny] Menendez work for every basket.
“We had a couple of bonehead mistakes, like silly turnovers under our own basket and not controlling the clock when we had a lead late in the game…[but] we played some solid defense and outrebounded them, and that was huge,” Hicks said.
“We played well as a team down the stretch,” he commented. “All my guys played very well offensively. They put a lot of pressure on us, and it was a heck of a game.”