By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO January 9, 2007 The non-league basketball game played on Saturday afternoon between the visiting Sullivan West Bulldogs and Monticello Panthers featured just about everything one would expect in a high school hoops contest.
Players scored layups on fast breaks and knocked down long-distance jump shots.
Both defenses blocked some shots and made several steals.
Each team grabbed a lead, but surrendered that advantage when the other squad made a scoring run.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the game for the fans who packed the bleachers in the Monticello High School gymnasium was the fact that the outcome of the contest was not decided until the final seconds.
With 1:08 remaining, SW’s James Spruill made a 3-point shot to tie the score at 52-52.
Just over a minute later, with just five seconds left in the game, Monticello’s Dior Jackson scored a layup on a fast break. Jackson converted the shot despite being fouled as he went up to the basket.
Although Jackson was unable to make his free throw, his layup gave the Panthers a 54-52 lead. In addition, three seconds elapsed during the scramble for the rebound, which reduced the Bulldogs’ chance to set up a good shot.
SW inbounded the ball from the baseline and the ball flew into a crowd of players near halfcourt. Monticello’s Omar Diaz gained control of the basketball and was fouled with less than one second remaining on the clock.
Diaz missed his first free throw, but swished the second which ensured that the Bulldogs would have to make a desperation 3-pointer to send the game into overtime.
SW (5-5) had one last possession, but could not get off a decent shot.
With the win, Monticello improved its record to 5-4 on the season.
Leading the Panthers to victory were Tyrone White and Diaz. White finished with a team-high 16 points, while Diaz, who made a trio of 3-point shots on the afternoon, scored 14 points.
Senior center Mike Normann recorded 13 points for Monticello, while Jackson added five points.
SW senior guard Kevin Cappiello knocked down a trio of 3-pointers and posted a game-high 25 points.
Junior forward Jason Leewe had seven points for the Bulldogs and Kienan Garn and Brad Reimer each netted five.
Monticello prevailed despite shooting less than 50 percent at the foul line. The Panthers made only 7-of-20 free throws.
However, SW was nearly perfect at the line, converting 12-of-14 free throws.
“It was what I expected,” Monticello Coach Dick O’Neill said. “It was a very competitive game.”
While noting that Cappiello “had a great game,” O’Neill praised his team’s overall defensive performance.
“Defensively, we did a great job today,” the veteran coach said.
SW Coach Cliff Kelly gave a great deal of credit to the Panthers.
“They put pressure on the basketball and played good defense,” Kelly said. “They are an athletic team.”