By Rob Potter
WARWICK Livingston Manor Coach Kevin Clifford knew playing in the Warwick Holiday Basketball Tournament would be a big step up for his young Lady Wildcat team. The other teams competing in the tourney were Class AA Warwick, Class B New Paltz and Class C Tuxedo. Livingston Manor is a Class D school.
So despite a tough 35-27 loss to unbeaten Tuxedo in the opening round, Clifford was still pleased Manor participated in the tourney.
“The competition here is great because we are playing against bigger schools,” said Clifford. “Win or lose, playing these bigger schools will help our team get better.”
Clifford also noted that the teams are treated very well. All of the players receive tournament T-shirts and pizza after their games.
The Lady Wildcats (1-3) are in transition after last season’s run to the Section IX, Class D title game. That team combined 12 Livingston Manor/Roscoe students and starred all-everything Marissa Diescher, who has since moved on to Penn State to play softball.
This year, Roscoe and Manor went their separate ways so the numbers are now divided, with Manor playing 10 girls.
Still, Manor hung with Tuxedo, drawing to within two points with just over three minutes left in the game. But led by clutch 5 of 6 foul shooting, Tuxedo outscored Manor 7-1 over the final minutes to seal the victory. Manor, on the other hand converted just 7 of 17 foul shots.
“We made a little run in the second half, but couldn’t take the lead,” Clifford said. “When you miss 10 free throws, that is not good.”
“But our girls hustled and played hard the whole game for going only about seven players deep.”
Tuxedo (4-0) held an 8-4 advantage at the end of the first quarter and extended its advantage in the second period to take a 16-9 lead at halftime.
Just 15 seconds into the third quarter, Alex Gundermann swished a 3-point shot to give the Lady Tornadoes a double-digit lead at 19-9.
But the Lady Wildcats kept working hard and managed to reduce the deficit. In the last 45 seconds of the third quarter, Calo put back a teammate’s missed shot and Devon Dutcher made a pair of free throws to make it a 25-19 game.
Clifford especially noted the play of Dutcher, who is an eight-grader, and Cindy Zheng.
“Devon did a great job today,” he said. “Cindy played some solid minutes and she did OK.”
Ami Calo led the Lady Wildcats with nine points, while teammate Monay Allen added seven points.
Despite losing the game, Clifford was very pleased with the effort the Lady Wildcats gave throughout the contest.
“We played hard and hustled every minute of the game,” he said. “We got a great effort from all of our players today.”
Gundermann led the Lady Tornadoes with 11 points. while Olivia Barry and Cori Delisi chipped in with six points apiece.
“You have to give Livingston Manor credit,” Tuxedo Coach Dave Powers said. “They didn’t give up. They kept playing hard and hustling and doing their best the whole game.
“I don’t feel like we played at our best today,” Powers added. “But I think Manor deserves a lot of credit for that.”