By Lori Brown
GRAHAMSVILLE The biggest game of the year for the Tuxedo and Tri-Valley girls’ basketball teams came down to the fourth quarter.
With the score tied at 26-26 entering the final eight minutes, Tuxedo pulled away and then fought off a late Tri-Valley rally to claim a 56-50 victory and first place in Division V of the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA).
The loss was Tri-Valley’s first of the season after reeling off 12 consecutive wins. Tuxedo is now 11-4 overall and 7-1 in the Division while Tri-Valley is 12-1 and 6-1 in the Division.
“We executed our defense well,” Tuxedo Coach Dave Powers said. “Kayla Pinkney had nine foul shots down the stretch. Cori DeLisi did a good job breaking the defense down. Alex Nouri played really well. She hit some big shots.”
Said Tri-Valley coach John Tenbus: “Their rebounds hurt us. Tuxedo would get the ball the first time, second time and third time. They were the better team today.
“My girls worked hard,” he added. “They never quit and never rolled over. We are going to learn from it and move on. We should see them again in sectionals.”
DeLisi dominated the first minute of the fourth period and broke the tie by scoring two baskets. Pinkney landed a 3-pointer to help extend the Lady Tornadoes’ lead.
With 2:48 remaining in the game, Tuxedo held a 40-32 advantage. Within the next 15 seconds, the Lady Bears scored twice to cut the deficit in half.
But Tuxedo made some key foul shots to extend its lead to 48-37 with just 45 seconds to go in the contest. Despite being down by 11 points, T-V never gave up. Sabrena Smith made a 3-point to bring the Lady Bears a little closer. T-V then fouled the Lady Tornadoes several times in the hopes of getting the ball back but couldn’t get closer than six points before time ran out.
“We couldn’t figure out how to finish the game,” Powers added. “I give T-V credit. They battled to the very last second.”
In the fourth quarter, Tuxedo went 11-of-18 from the foul line. For the game, the team went 20-for-32 at the line.
Pinkney led the Lady Tornadoes with a game-high 18 points. She was 9-of-13 at the free-throw line.
Also contributing for Tuxedo were Nouri, who had seven points, 11 rebounds and five steals, and Alexandra Gundermann, who recorded five points, 12 rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots.
“This is our third game in Sullivan County this week,” Powers said, noting his team had already traveled to Fallsburg and Sullivan West. “We have a tough couple weeks ahead of us as we play Burke, Florida and Fallsburg.”
After a close first quarter, T-V held a 7-5 advantage.
With 1:43 seconds left in the second quarter, the score was even at 13-13. But Alexandriah Sabarese swished a 3-pointer and teammate Erin Murphy made a pair of foul shots to give Tuxedo an 18-13 lead at halftime.
Midway through the quarter, the Lady Bears only trailed by one point. After Katlynn Greffrath recorded a steal, teammate Caroline Martin scored to give T-V a 25-24 lead with less than three minutes left in the quarter. Tuxedo regained the lead at 26-25 when Alexandriah Sabarese scored.
“I think we got rattled early,” T-V Coach John Tenbus said. “Erin [Smith] got into some foul trouble early on and that hurt us offensively. We had too many turnovers. We didn’t play with much confidence.”
Tenbus praised all of the players, especially DiMilia.
“Mareena was very sick and gave everything she could,” Tenbus commented. “She definitely came, worked hard and her offense was more aggressive.”
Tenbus noted that the Lady Bears have three Div. V games left to play, two against Eldred and the other against Fallsburg.
DiMilia paced the Lady Bears with 12 points. Caroline Martin and Sabrena Smith added 11 points and 10 points, respectively.