By Rob Potter
HANCOCK With a victory over the Falcons, the Livingston Manor Wildcats’ next basketball game will be held where a group of Hawks plays its hoops contests.
On Wednesday night, No. 3 seed Manor defeated the host No. 2 Family School Falcons, 70-61, in a Section IX Class D semifinal game.
With the win, Manor (11-6) earned a berth in the Class D title game. The Wildcats will meet No. 4 seed John A. Coleman Catholic for the championship at 7 p.m. Monday at SUNY New Paltz. Coleman defeated No. 1 seed Chapel Field, 69-57, in Wednesday evening’s other semifinal game, which was played at Roscoe Central School.
Wednesday night’s game at “The Falcons’ Nest” marked the third time Manor and The Family School had met this season as they split their two Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division VI meetings. The Wildcats and Falcons also shared the division title with the Chapel Field Lions.
As was the case in those earlier games between the Wildcats and Falcons, Wednesday night’s semifinal was played at a very quick pace. The score was tied several times and the teams frequently exchanged the lead.
The Family School held a 23-19 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 34-33 advantage at halftime.
The first six minutes of the third period featured six lead changes and two ties. With 41 seconds remaining, Jon Davis swished a 3-point to give the Wildcats a 53-50 advantage.
With 2.1 seconds on the clock, Manor’s Brandon Smith made two free throws to give his team a 55-50 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Manor (11-6) extended its advantage to nine points at 64-55 when Kenny Fisk put back a missed shot with 1:33 remaining in the game. With 58 seconds to go, Mike Mills scored to give the Wildcats a 66-55 advantage.
But the Falcons responded with a couple of quick baskets. Then with 30.3 seconds on the clock, Family School’s Steve Eckert made both shots of a 1-and-1 to cut the Manor lead to 66-61.
With 7.1 seconds to go, Davis swished a pair of free throws to seal the Wildcats’ win.
Smith led a balanced scoring attack for the Wildcats with a game-high 22 points. Troy Correa and Fisk also scored in double digits with 16 points and 12 points, respectively.
Manor also made the most of its trips to the free-throw line, converting 19 of 25 (76 percent).
“We’re very happy to get this win,” Manor Coach Charlie Hicks said. “Our starters played well and we got good minutes from our guys who came off the bench. Jon Davis hit two big 3-point shots for us.”
Hicks also praised his team for “playing great defense.”
DeMarques Williams paced the Falcons with 20 points. Owen Daugherty and Kevin Gary added 10 points apiece and Fran Hannon netted eight points.
“We had 19 turnovers tonight and those hurt us,” Family School Coach Larry Patrisso said. “DeMarques Williams played very well for us.
“Manor has a good team and they played harder,” Patrisso added.
While it ended with a tough loss, Patrisso focused on the many positives of the Falcons’ 2010-2011 hoops season.
“We had a great season,” he said. “I’m proud of these guys.”
Patrisso, who guided the Falcons to a division title back in the 2001-2002 season, noted that the Falcons improved greatly this year from a 2-16 record in 2009-2010 to a 12-5 mark this season. In addition to winning a share of the OCIAA Div. VI title, the Falcons were ranked as high as 14th among Class D teams in the New York State Sportswriters Association’s weekly boys’ basketball poll.
In the latest poll, which was released on Sunday, both The Family School and Manor were among the 14 teams to receive honorable mention for Class D.