By Rob Potter
WARWICK Following his team’s 61-34 loss to the New Paltz Huguenots on Wednesday afternoon in an opening round game of the Warwick Valley High School Coaches vs. Cancer Holiday Classic, Monticello Coach Chris Russo had a quick explanation for the game’s outcome.
“It’s what I just told our players in the locker room, they outplayed us in every area of the game,” he said. “We just had way too many turnovers today. When you lead in turnovers and lose the rebounding battle, it’s tough to win a basketball game.”
New Paltz (4-1) also shot the ball very well from the outside, making six 3-pointers, and used its defense to create steals which often led to easy transition baskets.
With the win, New Paltz advanced to last night’s championship game to face the host Warwick Wildcats. Monticello (1-4) was scheduled to meet Rondout Valley in yesterday afternoon’s consolation game.
Wednesday’s game was close only for a few minutes. Then the Huguenots went on a 13-1 scoring run to take a 17-5 lead into the second period. During that stretch, Zack Cone scored four points and teammate Bryan Krebs added five points, including a 3-point shot.
Midway through the second quarter, Monticello’s Ros Djonbalaj swished a 3-pointer to cut the New Paltz advantage to nine at 22-13.
But that’s as close as Monticello would get. New Paltz Panthers 8-4 during the rest of the quarter to take a 30-17 lead at halftime.
In the third period, Cone made a pair of 3-point shots to help New Paltz increase its lead to 54-30.
“Our game plan was to push them away from the 3-point shots whenever possible,” Russo said. “[Bryan] Krebs made some big shots for them today, including a few when we had someone guarding him closely. Because we weren’t able to follow our game plan, I take a lot of the responsibility for the loss.
“We were able to get within 10 points with about four minutes left in the third quarter, but then we fell asleep on defense and they got an easy basket inside,” Russo added. “After that, they kept scoring and increased their lead.”
Despite the loss, Russo remains optimistic about his team’s ability to improve as the season continues.
“We are going to come out and play better in tomorrow’s consolation game,” he said. “And after that we are going to work hard in practices and try to improve for our upcoming division games against Port Jervis, Goshen and Cornwall.”
Rob Riley led Monticello with 11 points, while teammate Sean Reuss had eight points.
Aden Gilmour scored a game-high 14 points to lead the Huguenots’ offense. Bryan Krebs and Cone added 12 points and 10 points, respectively.
“Our typical weakness is that we take a quarter off in every game,” New Paltz Coach Matt Moore said. “It seems to be a New Paltz thing and I am not sure what causes it. Today, our shots were off early in the first quarter. But then we started to hit.
“Later in the game, we got some steals on defense that we turned into easy baskets,” Moore continued. “We shot the ball pretty well from the outside. We’re a pretty good shooting team. There are times when we go cold, but when we are hitting those shots we are a pretty good basketball team.”