By Rob Potter
GRAHAMSVILLE January 12, 2007 A second-half comeback attempt by the Tri-Valley Lady Bears fell just short in Tuesday night’s Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division V basketball game.
After falling behind by as many as nine points in the first half to visiting Tuxedo, T-V rallied to take a one-point lead in the fourth quarter.
But Tuxedo (4-5, 1-0 Division V) kept its composure and retook the lead.
The Lady Tornadoes then maintained their advantage in the final moments of the contest to record a 46-42 victory.
After T-V’s Skylar Musa scored the first basket of the evening 20 seconds into the first quarter, Tuxedo gradually built a small lead. A 3-point shot by Rebecca Monteith with five seconds remaining in the opening stanza gave the Lady Tornadoes a 14-10 lead heading into the second quarter.
In that second period, Monteith drilled another 3-pointer to help her team extend its lead to nine points (25-16) at halftime.
Although the Lady Tornadoes held the lead throughout the third quarter, T-V (2-4, 0-2 Division V) was able to reduce that advantage. With 10.6 seconds left in the period, Lady Bear guard Jakki Pugh stepped to the foul line and calmly converted a pair of free throws to cut the Tuxedo lead to five points at 32-27.
Late in the fourth period, the Lady Bears took their first lead since those opening seconds of the first quarter.
With 2:35 displayed on the scoreboard clock, T-V’s Miranda Benevides swished a 3-pointer. The shot gave the Lady Bears a 42-41 advantage.
Less than a minute later, however, Tuxedo regained the lead. Emily Nicholas drove to the hoop, scored and was fouled. Although Nicholas failed to make her free throw, her basket gave the Lady Tornadoes a 43-42 lead.
But Nicholas made the most of her next opportunity at the foul line.
With 20.5 seconds remaining and her team holding a 44-42 advantage, Nicholas swished a pair of foul shots to provide the final margin of victory for the Lady Tornadoes.
Nicholas finished the evening with a game-high 14 points. Teammate Caitlin O’Keefe added seven points.
Monteith, Sarah Trapiani and Meredith Wolfe all scored six points for Tuxedo.
Several times in the second half, T-V narrowed the lead and seemed to be poised to grab the momentum as well. But each time that occurred, the Lady Tornadoes were able to make a basket, grab a big rebound or cause a turnover.
“We always talk about having mental toughness,” Tuxedo Coach Dave Powers said. “If something bad happens, we don’t dwell on it. We just move on to the next play.
“This is the second close victory we have had recently, the first was the other night against Florida [S.S. Seward],” Powers added.
In addition to being very proud of his players, the Lady Tornadoes’ leader was very impressed by the Lady Bears.
“Give Tri-Valley a lot of credit tonight,” he commented. “They played hard, played tough and never gave up.”
Leading the Lady Bears were Kanacia James and Samantha Santiago. James scored a team-best 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Santiago had 12 rebounds, eight steals and three assists.
In addition, Pugh and Benevides each tallied seven points. Benevides scored all of her points in the fourth quarter.
“Laurel Wilson had her best game of the season tonight,” T-V Coach Karen Andrews said. “She had 10 rebounds.”
Andrews also praised her other players.
“We played very hard tonight and hustled the whole game,” she said. “I’m very proud of all of them. We were down by nine points and came back to take the lead.
“We probably played our best all-around game of the year,” Andrews added.