By Ted Waddell
LAKE HUNTINGTON February 9, 2007 Who said that 13 is an unlucky number?
Certainly not the Bulldogs of Sullivan West, as three of their players each scored 13 points on the way to toppling the previously undefeated Tri-Valley Bears, 65-60, in Monday night’s rollicking non-league basketball game at Sullivan West Central School.
Breaking the taboo against that unlucky number were Alan Ackermann, Kevin Cappiello, and Bradley Reimer, whose 13 points included a trio of 3-point shots.
Derek Hahn, whose catcher’s mitt-sized hands blocked seven shots off the glass, added another 10 points in SW’s victory over the Bears.
Tri-Valley’s Dustin VanLieu scored 13 points and teammate Fred Moore netted 10 points. John Merchant, who is the Bears’ leading scorer on the season, was held to six points by Cappiello and his fired up, in-your-face defense.
SW (9-7) led 34-20 at halftime in the wake of a couple of big frames. The Bulldogs outscored the Bears 14-8 and 20-12 in the first and second quarters, respectively.
In the third period, T-V (16-1) staged a brief comeback by outscoring the home team, 14-10.
As SW sent in a few substitute players late in the game, T-V bit the Bulldogs, 20-17.
The Bears connected on a 3-pointer to get the game underway. But with 2:30 left in the first period, the Bulldogs were up by five points.
From that moment on, it was like a runaway train as the Bulldogs knocked the wheels off the Bears big scorers of VanLieu and Merchant, shutting them off at the pass and zipping up the rim.
As the heat of the game intensified, you could hear the bodies crashing the boards and hitting the deck from one side of the gym to the other.
Stats from the free throw line: SW was 15-of-28 (54 percent), while T-V went 7-of-12 (58 percent).
“They neutralized our big guys,” T-V Coach Brian Tingley said.
“We weren’t that patient with the ball, and we didn’t match up with them on size,” he added. “They were a tough match up for us.”
Still stinging a bit from the upset that derailed the Bears’ unbeaten record, Tingley made lemonade out of lemons.
“A game like this can help your focus coming into the sectionals,” he said.
SW Assistant Coach Bob Menges credited the win to taking care of business.
“We didn’t do anything special to prepare for them,” he said. “We just did the little things, like shooting the ball well and rebounding the ball well… it was the most balanced scoring we’ve seen all season.”
“We had some kids step up,” Menges added. “Bradley Reimer is starting to play to the level I thought he could all year. Jason Leewe played one heck of a game defensively, Chris Story had a huge fourth period and Kevin Cappiello he’s our glue. He’s a kid who can handle the basketball, shoot it, pass it and he guards the [opposition’s] best player every game, and he usually does it without a rest.”
“He’s our iron man,” added Menges said of Cappiello.
Menges said the Bulldogs’ plan was to stop the Bears’ transition game and shut down their easy baskets.
“They live off easy baskets,” he said. “We took them out of their game, and they didn’t get any easy looks.”
“My main focus was to stop their two main scoring threats, and we did that,” Menges added.