By Lori Brown
GRAHAMSVILLE Greg Swarthout scored the go-ahead basket with under a minute remaining and James Pugh came up with a big steal and two clutch foul shots in the closing seconds to lead Tri-Valley to a hard-fought 49-45 non-league victory over the visiting Family School on Friday night.
“It looked easy early on,” T-V Coach Brian Tingley said. “That is how our season will be, nip and tuck.”
The Family School’s Stephen Rudowicz ended the third quarter with a basket to cut the T-V lead to five points at 39-34. With 3:24 remaining, in the game, the Falcons drew even at 43-43.
Swarthout’s steal and downcourt assist to Cody Exner put Tri-Valley ahead by two points with under 2 minutes remaining. But the Family School’s Lucas Maas answered with a basket to tie the game again at 45-45 with just 1:35 left, setting the stage for Swarthout’s winning basket.
Tri-Valley (2-0) started strong as Cody Exner hit a pair of 3-pointers in building a 17-9 lead. James Pugh’s 3-point shot in the second quarter put T-V ahead by 13.
In the third quarter, The Family School (0-2) gained some momentum and took a 33-32 lead.
But T-V quickly regained the lead as Exner converted back-to-back 3-pointers to help the Bears take a 39-32 lead with two minutes left in the period.
“We never gave up, even when our 10-point lead went away,” Tingley said. “Our experienced guys are not tall, but I am hoping our tall guys will get some experience before our big games.
“We have six returning players” Tingley added. “We have shooters this year. Cody Exner can shoot. We couldn’t rebound against them, but we played good enough to win. James Pugh had a few steals at the end of the game and Jesus Lozada played well today.”
Family School Coach Larry Patrisso said his team is young team and appeared nervous to start the game. “We need to gain experience that is the biggest thing.”