By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO The visiting James I. O’Neill Raiders held a seemingly commanding 22-8 lead over the Monticello Panthers at the end of the first quarter in Friday night’s non-league basketball game.
But the Raiders had to withstand a rally from a very determined Monticello team in order to post a victory.
With 10 seconds remaining in the game, O’Neill’s Jimmy Doonan made a pair of free throws to give his team a 77-74 advantage. When the Panthers missed a game-tying 3-point attempt, Raiders’ center Chris Outing grabbed the rebound and was fouled with just two seconds left on the clock.
Because O’Neill (7-7) was in the double bonus, Outing received two foul shots. He missed the first, but swished the second shot to seal the Raiders’ 78-74 victory.
Monticello (5-10), which had trailed by as many as 17 points in the first period, closed to within a point at 75-74 with 13 seconds left when Jesse Levine scored under the basket.
But Doonan quickly pushed the Raiders’ advantage back to three points.
Doonan made seven shots from beyond the 3-point arc and finished with a game-high 33 points.
Outing and forward Connor Broesler each recorded a double-double for the Raiders. Outing had 14 points and 13 rebounds, while Broesler registered 10 points and 15 rebounds. Outing also dished out six assists and blocked five shots.
Starting guard Cedric Cochran added nine points for the Raiders.
O’Neill Coach Deb Crowe was not surprised at all that the Panthers rallied after trailing 22-8 at the end of the first quarter.
“I told my team at halftime that Monticello would stay determined and would keep competing right up until the end of the game,” Crowe said. “Monticello outscored us 29 to 20 in the fourth quarter.”
Crowe praised her players for withstanding the Monties’ comeback to record the win.
Leading the Monticello offense were forwards Jesse Kapito and Devon Mathis and guard Briar Patterson. Kapito had five 3-pointers and totaled 23 points, while team co-captains Mathis and Patterson added 22 points and 17 points, respectively.
“I thought we were flat early on and [James I.] O’Neill was able to get a big lead,” Monticello Coach Chris Russo said. “But we kept working hard and played better in the second half.”
Among those players whom Russo noted for the Panthers’ improvement in the second half was Levine.
“He came off the bench, scored a couple of baskets and gave us a lift,” Russo said.