By Ted Waddell
LAKE HUNTINGTON March 2, 2007 Sullivan West advanced to the Section IX Class B boys’ basketball semifinals on the shooting of senior guard Kevin Cappiello.
On Tuesday night, the fourth-seeded Bulldogs defeated the fifth-seeded James I. O’Neill Raiders, 66-56, in a quarterfinal game at SW High School in Lake Huntington.
SW was scheduled to travel to Goshen last night to face No. 1 seed John S. Burke Catholic High School in a semifinal game.
Cappiello lit up the scoreboard with a 3-pointer just 10 seconds into the first quarter and iced the Bulldogs’ victory at the free-throw line in the game’s final minute.
With 55.2 seconds left, Cappiello went 1-for-2 at the foul line to put the SW (12-8) up 62-53. At the 28.6-second mark, he was 2-for-2 at the line.
Then with 21 seconds left on the game clock, Cappiello spilt a pair of foul shots to give SW a 65-55 lead on the way to what proved to be a 10-point win in the wake of each team adding a point at the free-throw line in the closing seconds.
Early in the fourth period, O’Neill (10-11) closed to within six points. But at the 2:54 mark, the Bulldogs were back up by 10 points, 58-48.
In the first half, SW outpaced the Raiders by a 2-to-1 ratio and headed off to the locker room with a 32-16 lead.
Three Bulldogs scored in double figures. Cappiello led the way with a game-high 23 points. He also added a team-best nine assists. Senior center Derek Hahn recorded a double-double by scoring 20 points and grabbing 21 rebounds, while senior forward Alan Ackermann netted 12 points.
Robert Dunn paced Raiders with 16 points. J.R. Downey registered 11 points, while Connor Bressler and Ben Johnson added 10 points apiece.
SW enjoyed an advantage at the free-throw line. The Bulldogs converted 19-of-31 (61 percent) foul shots, while O’Neill made just 8-of-20 (40 percent) free throws.
“In the first half, we shot 4-for-25, that’s the ball game right there,” O’Neill Coach Debbie Crowe said. “We had to fight to get back, and we didn’t box out well.”
The Bulldogs wrapped up the regular season with an 11-8 overall record and they tied O’Neill for second place in Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division IV with a 5-3 record.
“We did what we needed to do to win the game,” SW Assistant Coach Bob Menges said. “We rebounded the ball very effectively, and we limited their easy baskets and turnovers.”
“We played some good, solid halfcourt defense, and we scored well on the offensive boards,” he added.