By Rob Potter
FALLSBURG The Fallsburg Lady Comets finished the 2011-2012 basketball season with a 10-9 overall record.
The team also earned a berth in the Section IX Class C Tournament for the second straight year.
The key reason for Fallsburg’s consistent play and winning record was senior guard Sheryl Pinder.
“She carried us on her back at times this season,” Fallsburg Coach Daniel Redmond said. “We were 10-9, but without her we would have had at least four or five more losses.”
Redmond noted that Pinder, “was a shooting guard on paper, but a point guard on the court. She ran the show for us. We had another senior, Celia Garcia, in the backcourt, but Sheryl was running the offense.”
Pinder led the Lady Comets by averaging 15.9 points per game. She also had 5.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.
For those reasons, as well as playing solid defense, and making her teammates better, Pinder has been selected as the 2011-2012 Sullivan County Democrat Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year.
“I feel I had a very good season,” Pinder said. “I tried my best in every game and tried to make the most of my senior year.”
Pinder noted that one of her best games of the season was against the Tri-Valley Lady Bears in a Section IX Class C Quarterfinal.
“I tried to put the team on my back and do whatever I could to help us win that game,” said Pinder, who scored 28 points in that contest. “I tried to get my teammates involved and we all played well. But Tri-Valley is a very good team and they won the game.”
Redmond noted that Pinder was a four-year starter for the Lady Comets and continued to improve.
“When she was a freshman and sophomore, Sheryl was kind of selfish,” Redmond explained. “She was always looking for her shot and trying to score and not really looking for her teammates.
“But in the last two years, she has become a much better player and really focused on getting her teammates involved,” he added.
Pinder concurred with her coach.
“Those first two years, I felt like I had to score a lot,” she said. “But last year and this year, I wanted to pass the ball more and get all of my teammates involved in the offense. There were still some times when I had to keep shooting and scoring to help the team.”
Redmond praised Pinder for her ability to learn the game and her work ethic.
“Sheryl is very coachable,” he said. “She was one of our team captains this season with fellow seniors Shanice Mack and Celia Garcia. I pick our team captains for the season at the end of the previous season. Sheryl, Shanice and Celia are all good leaders who really helped their younger teammates.
“Sheryl helped herself by playing over the summer,” Redmond continued. “She has a lot of skill and talent, but she also constantly works on her game. My assistant coach lives right next to the basketball court in Fallsburg and she said that everyday last summer several kids were out on the court playing. And Sheryl was there everyday.”
Playing basketball in the summer to improve her game is nothing new for Pinder. She attended two camps in Pennsylvania last summer. In addition, she was a member of the Fallsburg girls’ basketball team that played in a league with other teams from Sullivan County high schools.
Pinder, who doesn’t play any other sports, was introduced to the game as a young girl when she and her family resided in the Bronx.
“I played everyday when we lived in the Bronx,” she explained. “I played for a PAL team and an AAU team. It was great competition and really helped me get better.”
The summer after she completed seventh grade, Pinder and her family father Hubert, mother Beverly and brother Nicholas moved to South Fallsburg. Pinder then played for the Lady Comets’ modified basketball team in eighth grade. The following year she moved up to the varsity team.
Pinder has always received encouragement and help from her family.
“My mother is always telling me to go out and play,” Pinder said. “And our father helps me and Nicholas, who played on the Fallsburg boys’ JV team this season and is a good player, work on our game. Our father has us work on skills. He doesn’t focus on shooting, more on skills like learning to pivot and getting in a good defensive stance.”
Of course, Pinder credits Redmond for helping her a great deal during the last four years.
“He has been my coach since ninth grade and has helped me and my teammates improve,” Pinder commented. “Whenever there was a open gym, he worked with us on our game. He also helped me in the weight room the last two years. I was able to improve my strength. I am only 5-4, so to go inside and get rebounds, I need to be strong. Since I am one of the shortest players on the court, I need to be one of the strongest.”
After graduating in June, Pinder will continue her basketball career at SUNY Orange. She plans to major in Business Management. Her career goal is to create her own sporting goods business, preferably here in Sullivan County.
“It’s exciting to know I will be part of that team,” she said. “The team has a great coach in Coach [John] Lauro. I will be working hard this summer to improve my game dribbling, shooting and defense and trying to get into better shape. It will be fun to play for the team, but it is a big step up in the competition level.”
“Of course, I will come back next season to watch these girls,” Pinder said. “I want to see Kelsey Moody, Nyasia Blakney and Paige Seletsky, who will be coming back from an ACL injury, play and the younger girls, too. All of these girls will be my teammates for life.”
Points per game: 15.9
Rebounds per game: 5.4
Steals per game: 4.1