By Ted Waddell
MONTICELLO January 19, 2006 The Monticello Panthers romped over the visiting Vikings of Central Valley, 66-46, in Tuesday night’s non-league basketball game.
In the first half, the lead alternated back and forth between the two teams, although at halftime the Panthers were ahead by a point (29-28).
The second half was a different story, as Monticello (8-4) outpaced the Vikings in the remaining quarters by 19 points (37-17).
With 1:41 left the third period, Monticello was up by 10 points (46-36). And at about the five minute mark of the final frame, the Panthers led 56-43 until Valley Central (1-11) ran out of gas.
Double-digit scorers for Monticello were Omar Diaz, who made a trio of 3-point shots and finished with 23 points, and Justino Paredes, who recorded 16 points.
For the Vikings, Peter Papastefanou scored 15 points, Sean Leahy netted 11 points and Rashad White had 10 points. In addition, Nick Clair added six points thanks to a pair of successful shots from beyond the 19-foot, 9-inch arc.
Both teams shot pretty well from the free-throw line. Monticello was 6-of-8 (75 percent), while Valley Central was 11-of-14 (79 percent).
“I thought we played well in the first half, we matched their intensity,” Valley Central Coach Eric Bartle said.
Possession is 9/10 of the law, and apparently the same holds true of the game of hoops.
“We had a few bad possessions,” Bartle added. “They are very athletic and you can’t give them any openings… we did, and they went on a run.”
Papastefanou noted that his team played two different halves.
“I thought we had intensity in the first half,” said the 17-year-old senior. “In the second half, we came out and were sloppy on offense, not disciplined on defense and we just gave it up.”
His take on the season?
“We’ve had our struggles,” Papastefanou said. “It’s been up and down, and we’ve haven’t had too much time to work on our chemistry.”
Dick O’Neill has been coaching basketball for 38 years. This is his 23rd season coaching the boys’ varsity basketball team at Monticello High School.
“It was a good team effort,” he said of the Panthers’ win. “We played with some effort in the first half, but not enough… we didn’t impose ourselves on them the way we should have. In the second half, we did a better job and held them to 18 points.”
O’Neill said his goal is to hold the opposition to 50 points or less.
“In the first half, we stood around watching their zone [defense], but in the second half we started attacking it,” he said. “We shot the ball better, had better transitions, had more energy… that was the difference in the game.”
“We wore ’em out,” O’Neill added.
Monticello has now won five games in a row.
“The game was good, we did good,” said Diaz, who is an 18- year-old senior. “In the beginning we messed up, but then we became better and it was a better overall game.”
Paredes said it was tough going in the opening two periods. But he noted that in the second half “we got it together and played like a team.”
“I love the game,” he said. “I’ve been playing basketball since I was a little kid.”