By Rob Potter
FALLSBURG The S.S. Seward Spartans maintained their place alone atop the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division V boys’ basketball standings with a 59-53 victory over the host Fallsburg Comets on Wednesday night.
Seward (11-3, 6-0 Div. V) was ahead for the majority of the game and pushed that lead to as many as 12 points in th fourth quarter. But the Spartans had to withstand a rally by the Comets in the final two minutes to record the six-point victory.
“We talked in the locker room before the game about everybody playing together, that playing as individuals would not help us win this game,” Seward Coach Rob Gravelle said. “We played together and everybody contributed.”
Gravelle said he “had high hopes” for a victory based on his team’s demeanor.
“All day in school, these guys were very calm and on the ride up here they were very calm,” he said. “They were focused and ready to play.”
While Gravelle praised all of the Spartans, he especially noted the defensive performance of Jake Kinley.
“Jake took two charges against the player I think is the best small school center in Section IX, Michael Robinson,” Gravelle explained.
Seward scored almost half of its points from beyond the 19-foot, 9-inch arc. The team made nine 3-pointers on the evening to help maintain and stretch its lead.
Anthony Bailey led the Spartans with 22 points, while teammate Kevin Smith had 10 points.
Fallsburg (10-5, 6-2 Div. VI) only made two 3-pointers in the game, both by Braiden DeGraw. The second of those long-distance shots helped the Comets cut its deficit to six points in the final minute.
Four seconds later, Seward’s John Sgombick made the front end of a 1-and-1. When he missed his second free throw, Robinson grabbed the rebound for Fallsburg. The Comets moved upcourt and attempted a 3-pointer.
But the shot was off and Sgombick came down with the rebound and was fouled. He again made the front end of a 1-and-1 to give the Spartans an eight-point lead at 59-51.
Robinson was the Comets’ top scorer with 15 points. Russell Corley and DeGraw each added 14 points.
“I thought our attitude was right,” Fallsburg Coach Pete Dworetsky said. “I thought our effort was right. I thought we worked hard. Seward is a great team and they played very well tonight.
“I thought sometimes we weren’t patient on offense,” Dworetsky continued. “We didn’t look to take a better shot.”
With a non-league game against The Family School and Div. V games versus Tri-Valley and Tuxedo coming up, Dworetsky views Wednesday night’s game as a learning experience.
“Our guys gave a great effort and worked hard,” he said. “We will practice tomorrow and go back to the drawing board.”