By Rob Potter
HAWLEY, PA December 4, 2007 Twenty-four hours after recording their first win of the 2007-2008 basketball season which was also the 400th career victory for Coach Dick O’Neill the Monticello Panthers suffered their first loss of the season.
On Saturday night, the host Wallenpaupack (Pa.) Buckhorns defeated the Panthers, 47-28, in the championship game of the 10th annual Hawley Rotary Tip-Off Tournament at Wallenpaupack High School in Hawley, Pa.
Monticello (1-1) reached the title game by defeating the Western Wayne (Pa.) Wildcats, 39-34, in an opening round game on Friday night.
Wallenpaupack (2-0) grabbed a 6-2 lead when Tim Silsby and J.J. Borges swished 3-point shots in the opening three-and-a-half minutes of the game. The Buckhorns extended their lead to 15-9 at the end of the first quarter and enjoyed a 29-19 advantage at halftime.
Wallenpaupack outscored Monticello 13-2 in the third period to take a commanding 42-21 lead heading into the final eight minutes of play.
“We shot the ball a lot better tonight than we did last night,” Wallenpaupack Coach George Werthmuller said. “We played well defensively tonight.
“We played hard tonight and kept hustling,” he added.
Werthmuller noted that it was special to play Coach O’Neill and Monticello in the title game.
“It’s an honor to play against Dick O’Neill,” said Werthmuller, who presented the game ball to O’Neill on Friday night in honor of his 400th career victory. “He’s a longtime friend.”
Leading the Buckhorns to victory were Silsby, Kevin Gumble and Jonathan Shaffer. Silsby scored a game-high 12 points, while Gumble and Shaffer each netted seven points.
Monticello’s top scorers were senior guard Dior Jackson and junior guard William Watson. Both players had eight points in the contest.
Junior forward Wesley Jones added four points for the Panthers.
“The difference in the game was too many missed shots and [not getting to] loose balls,” O’Neill said. “Early in the game, Wallenpaupack got a couple of putbacks inside and then went on a scoring run.
“We had a loss of intensity and that made a difference,” he continued. “We had played with a lot of intensity early on, but lost that intensity in the second half.”
Jackson and Watson both earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team. They were joined on the team by Mid-Valley (Pa.)’s Jason Esperance, Western Wayne’s Mitchell Vitovsky and Wallenpaupack’s Michael Keane.
Richard Palazzi of Wallenpaupack was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.