By Ted Waddell
LIVINGSTON MANOR January 18, 2008 What looked like a walk in the park for the home team turned into a real nailbiter.
At the end of the third quarter of Wednesday night’s non-league basketball game, the homestanding Livingston Manor Wildcats led the Tri-Valley Bears by 15 points (50-35), and it seemed they were destined to cruise to victory.
But in the fourth period, T-V (5-6) outpaced the home team, 23-9, to come within a single point of tying it up, as in the last seconds a bucket was the only thing that stood in the way of a win.
Manor (7-4) hung in there to win, 59-58, in a game that had fans on the edges of their seats and nipping at their fingernails.
“We usually stink it up in the fourth period, but we came back and fought hard,” T-V Coach Brian Tingley said.
Manor Coach Charlie Hicks said, “We tried everything to lose the game, but we played tough.”
In the first quarter, T-V outgunned the Wildcats 14-12.
But at the urging of Hicks, Manor surged back to outscore the Bears 22-9 in the second period to take a 34-23 lead at halftime.
The Wildcats edged the Bears 16-14 in the third frame. However, T-V almost snatched victory from the slavering jaws of defeat in the final frame by outscoring Manor, 21-9.
Early in the second period, Manor’s James Baker nailed two consecutive 3-point shots to put the Wildcats up 18-17.
Moments later, Mike Hendrickson converted a pair of foul shots and Baker had a slam dunk give Manor a 22-17 advantage.
Throughout the game, Hendrickson’s dazzling ballhandling thrilled the crowd as he threaded the needle on the way to posting a double-double of 22 points and 20 rebounds. He also had seven steals and five assists.
At 5:42 in the final period, Manor’s Justin Miranda went down with a sprained ankle. He was then carried off the floor by Hicks to a round of applause from the folks up in the bleachers.
T-V closed to within seven points with 3:47 remaining and again at the 1:17 mark.
At 1:12, T-V’s Andrew Yager was fouled and made both of his free throws to bring the Bears to within six points at 57-51.
T-V edged to within a point (57-56) with 45 seconds left in the game.
With 9.8 seconds on the clock, Shane Lewis stepped up to the free-throw line for Manor. He made 1-of-2 to put the Wildcats up 59-56.
Yager scored a bucket at the buzzer to make it a 59-58 final.
While Hendrickson paced the Manor offensive attack with his aforementioned 22 points, Baker and Claude Davis each added 13 points.
Bo Murphy led T-V with 16 points and teammate Sean Drown netted 15 points.
Manor held an edge at the free-throw line. The Wildcats made 16-of-25 (64 percent) of their foul shots, while T-V was 7-of-17 (41 percent).
“We were down 11 [points] at the half and then we did kind of the opposite of what we usually do,” Tingley said. “We came back and fought hard, we ran some offense.
“One-point games are hard to take because when you look back on it, anything could have made a difference,” Tingley added.
“Manor held on, they ran it and Hendrickson is a player. If he’s not getting the points, he’s getting the assists. He’s a very good player.”
Hicks summed up the game with a few words.
“I think both teams played very hard,” he said. “I’m just happy to come out with a win.”
“We blew a big lead,” Hicks added. “They’re a good team, and made baskets when it counted.”
Hicks noted that Hendrickson “had a huge game.
“They shut him down a little bit in the second half,” Hicks said. “But my guards and Claude Davis, my other big man, stepped up.”