By Rob Potter
LAKE HUNTINGTON January 18, 2008 The Sullivan West Bulldogs overcame a four-point halftime deficit to record a 45-43 victory over the visiting Monticello Panthers on Monday night in a non-league basketball game.
SW found itself behind 23-19 at the intermission and 31-30 at the end of the third period.
The Bulldogs then outscored Monticello 15-12 in the fourth quarter to earn the two-point win.
However, the game’s outcome wasn’t decided until the last two minutes.
With 1:51 remaining, Monticello’s William Watson drove down the lane and scored to cut the Bulldogs lead to 41-40.
Just over a minute passed before either team scored again.
Jason Leewe ended that pause in scoring when he hit a long jump shot with 44 seconds left to push SW’s advantage to 43-40.
Four seconds later, Brad Reimer stole the ball and made a layup to put the Bulldogs up by five points, 45-40.
Watson swished a 3-pointer with three seconds left to pull the Panthers to within a basket.
Monticello Coach Dick O’Neill immediately called a timeout to set up his defense for the Bulldogs’ subsequent inbound pass.
Leewe caught that inbounds pass in the front court and dribbled away last seconds to seal the win for SW (7-5).
In the first quarter, it seemed unlikely that the game’s outcome would be in doubt until the final seconds. Reimer scored five points as the Bulldogs raced out to a 17-7 lead at the end of that opening frame.
But the second period was a different story, thanks to a defensive change by Monticello (4-8).
The Panthers held the Bulldogs to just two points in the stanza by playing an aggressive man-to-man defense and forcing the SW guards to go to the left when they reached halfcourt. The ploy turned SW’s halfcourt offense into a quarter-court offense.
While slowing down the Bulldogs, the Panthers got their own offense on track. Devon Mathis and Derrick Miller each scored three points as Monticello began the quarter with an 8-0 run.
After Reimer put back a missed shot with 3:50 left to give SW a 19-15 lead, the Panthers ended the frame with another 8-0 run.
Leewe and Reimer each recorded 13 points to pace the SW offense.
Chris Story and James Spruill added 12 points and five points, respectively, for the Bulldogs.
Watson was the Panthers’ top scorer with 11 points, while teammates Dior Jackson and Briar Patterson each hit a pair of 3-pointers and finished the evening with nine points.
Mathis and Miller both netted five points for Monticello.
“We just were not ready to play the game tonight,” O’Neill said. “Even though we had that comeback in the second quarter, we weren’t ready to play.”
The veteran coach praised the SW players for their performance.
“They just wanted it more than we did,” O’Neill said of the Bulldogs. “Except for a few players, it seemed like we had a lack of focus.”
SW Coach Cliff Kelly noted that his team responded well to adversity throughout the contest.
“In the second quarter, they forced us left with their defense,” he said. “We had to adjust our shots and once the ball started going in the net, we were OK.
“We’re a young team and we have had close games this season where we didn’t finish well,” Kelly added. “But the last three games against Port Jervis at the Moran Tournament, with Tri-Valley and tonight versus Monticello we didn’t crumble at the end and came out with a win.”