By Ted Waddell
LAKE HUNTINGTON Sometimes it pays to think outside the paint as well as outside the box.
In Thursday night’s Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division IV basketball game between the Bulldogs of Sullivan West and visiting John S. Burke Catholic Eagles, it was a case of turnabout is fair play.
The Bulldogs, still smarting from a 48-point loss at the hands of their division rivals a few weeks ago down in Goshen, made a total of 13 shots from beyond the 3-point arc to defeat the visitors, 68-56.
Adding to the tally of 3-pointers were R.J Rosa (four), James Spruill (three), Justin Armstrong (two), Dan Figueora (two) and Brad Reimer (two).
Adding to the spirit of SW senior recognition night, members of the “Dawg Pound” the Bulldogs’ loyal and vociferous student section were out in force, as they howled for a victory by the home team.
At the midway point of the first quarter, SW (11-6, 5-2 Div. IV) held a 7-1 lead in the wake of some hard scrabble play and its inaugural 3-point shot of the evening.
Armstrong closed out the first period with a bucket after weaving his way through a traffic jam under the glass to put the Bulldogs up by double digits at 15-5.
Scoring in the second period was even at 12-12, but in the third quarter, the Bulldogs outscored the Eagles 24 to 18.
Early in the third quarter, Burke (12-6, 6-1 Div. IV) narrowed SW’s lead to five points. But a series of shots by Rosa, Armstrong and Spruill ended the Eagles’ brief rally to get back in the game.
The Eagles battled back to within nine points, only to watch as Figueora and Reimer nailed 3-pointers to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to 48-33.
The Bulldogs’ had a balanced scoring attack as four players reached double figures. Rosa led the way with 24 points, Reimer had 17 points, Spruill netted 12 points and Figueora recorded 10 points. Rosa also grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out 11 assists for a triple-double, while Reimer had 10 rebounds for a double-double.
Burke’s top scorers were Kadeem Jacklyn, who had 13 points, and Dennis Leahy, who registered 11 points.
Although the Bulldogs shot well from beyond the 19-foot, 9-inch arc, they didn’t fare as well at the free-throw line. They converted only 9-of 20 (45 percent) foul shots, while Burke was 14-of-18 (78 percent) at the line.
“They shot the ball well, and we were tentative on offense,” Burke Coach Doug Janeczko said. “We got beat tonight by a good team.”
Coach Cliff Kelly and the Bulldogs were still smarting from their blowout loss at the hands of Burke earlier this season, so they ramped up their efforts during practice and prepared for a physical game.
“Down there [at Burke] we gave them 45-degree passes, we threw it across the floor and they stole it,” Kelly said. “They beat on you and separate you from the ball.”
But that was then, and on Thursday night before a roaring home crowd, the Bulldogs turned the tables on the Eagles and kept the ball high over their heads on the way to the rim.
“If you can shoot [well], you can win,” Kelly said. “This was big- time payback. It’s a big-time rivalry.”
Note: SW was slated to visit The Family School for a non-league game last night. The Bulldogs will finish the regular season with a Div. IV game at James I. O’Neill tomorrow night and a non-league contest at Port Jervis on Friday night.