Story by Ed Townsend
GRAHAMSVILLE It was Tri-Valley vs. Fallsburg basketball deja vu all over again last Friday night when what looked like a sure victory for the Comets turned into a barnburner and an early Christmas gift victory for Tri-Valley.
With 10 seconds left on the fourth quarter clock and the Comets leading by four points, Tri-Valley brought the ball down court, and following several quick passes, senior forward Rodney Jester drained a three-pointer from the right corner.
With a few seconds now remaining, Fallsburg’s inbound pass was intercepted by Tri-Valley's James Pugh who quickly got the ball to Shatic Smith who fired up a desperation three-point shot. The ball bounded off the backboard, but Tri-Valley’s Alex Brown grabbed the rebound and immediately tossed the ball toward the basket. Miraculously, it banked in before the buzzer sounded and Tri-Valley escaped with an incredible 73-72 victory to preserve its undefeated record (5-0 overall, 2-0 league).
The win brought back memories of a last-second three pointer by Tri-Valley in 2010 at Fallsburg when with a several seconds left on the clock and Fallsburg leading by two points, now-graduated senior Dean Winters sank an almost half-court shot for a one-point Bears win.
In last Friday’s game, Fallsburg took an 18-15 first quarter lead but Tri-Valley stormed back in the second quarter outscoring the Comets 22-7 to build a 37-25 advantage.
The Fallsburg Tri-Valley rivalry heated up in the third quarter with a tighter defense by Fallsburg as they outscored the Bears 22-15 to cut Tri-Valley's lead down to seven points, 52-47.
Fallsburg kept chipping away at the lead in the fourth quarter and at times went up by six points.
Excellent foul shooting and easy in-the-paint layups helped Fallsburg throughout the fourth quarter as they outscored Tri-Valley, 25-21.
Fallsburg fans started hooping it up with their four-point lead and 11 seconds left on the clock but Jester's three-pointer coupled with the turnover and Brown's putback at the buzzer brought jubilation to the Bears fans as Tri-Valley's players piled on Brown at half court.
Fans from both teams commented after the game that both teams could be proud of themselves and that this was one of the best high school basketball games they have ever been a part of.
Leading the scoring for Tri-Valley was Jesus Lozada with 19, James Pugh 18 and Alex Brown with 15.
Rakkir Watson had 25 points for Fallsburg followed by Nick Pinder with 19 and Jarrett Madison added 11.