By Ted Waddell
FALLSBURG How many times can you keep going to the proverbial well if the bucket keeps coming up empty?
According to Fallsburg Coach Pete Dworetsky, as long as it takes for his team to record its first win of the 2008-09 basketball season.
“Their spirits are up, they realize how far we’ve come,” he said moments after the Comets’ heartbreaking 72-66 loss to visiting Tri-Valley in Tuesday evening’s non-league game.
Dworetsky said he keeps stressing to his players that losing “is just part of life… when things aren’t going your way, you just keep working at it.”
And apparently the Comets are listening to him. Despite their 0-13 record, they are still showing up for practice and playing with some real intensity.
“The players have certain games on their schedule,” Dworetsky said. “They know some games are going to be a dog fight at the end, and go all out.
“Nobody’s walked off, we still have a full bench.”
On Tuesday, it looked like the Comets were going to snatch their first win of the season.
But even as they closed to within a point in the closing minutes of the game on a bucket by Colin Conway-Whitaker, victory once again eluded Fallsburg.
With 1:56 left in the third quarter, Michael Melko made a 3-pointer to cut the Bears’ lead to 50-49. Just 36 seconds later, Daniel Seletsky scored to give Fallsburg a 51-50 advantage.
Dustin VanLieu’s basket put T-V (8-5) back on top by a point. VanLieu scored again after teammate Tim Martin stole the ball and passed it to him to make it a 55-51 game.
Seletsky shaved the Bears’ lead to a basket, and then a series of shots resulted in some serious action under the glass on both sides of the court, but in the end the Bears were up 62-57.
Fallsburg again closed to within a point on a 3-point shot by Rodrick Cash.
With 1:20 left, Conway-Whitaker scored to make it a 65-64 contest. But VanLieu again rose to the occasion and sliced his way through the Comets’ defense for a basket.
With the last seconds ticking down on the game clock, VanLieu was fouled. He then stepped up to the free-throw line and made both of his shots to seal the Bears’ six-point win.
VanLieu scored 26 points to lead a balanced T-V scoring attack. Khristian Newkirk netted 21 points, while Martin and Andrew Yager each added 17 points for the Bears.
Melko led Fallsburg with 18 points, including five 3-point shots. Conway-Whitaker and Seletsky scored 17 points apiece.
“We’ve gotten so much better than when we started,” Dworetsky commented. “We were in it right up until nine seconds left in the game, but then we got a little tired at the end.”
The Fallsburg basketball coaching staff is on a mission.
“We’re trying to change the culture about the way basketball is played here,” Dworetsky explained. “No jabbing at the refs every time there’s a call, no jabbing at the opponents, and playing with good sportsmanship.”
T-V Coach Brian Tingley summed up the game in a few words.
“I knew it was going to be tough coming in here to play,” Tingley said. “Their record doesn’t show it. But they’re putting up points against a lot of people.”
Note: Tonight’s Fallsburg junior varsity and varsity boys’ basketball games against the Tuxedo Tornadoes will be played in remembrance of Mel Mednick, a member of the Fallsburg Central School District’s Board of Education who recently passed away.
The junior varsity game tips off at 5:30 p.m. with the varsity game to follow at 7 p.m. in the Fallsburg High School gym.
Residents of the community are asked to attend the games to help remember Mednick and his dedication to the students and basketball program at Fallsburg Central School.