By Rob Potter
SULLIVAN COUNTY Basketball fans in two county school districts were treated to a day-night doubleheader on Saturday afternoon.
At 1 p.m., the No. 4 seed Fallsburg Comets hosted the No. 5 Tri-Valley Bears in a Section IX boys’ Class C quarterfinal game. Then at 6 p.m., the No. 2 Tri-Valley Lady Bears hosted the No. 7 Fallsburg Lady Comets in a Section IX girls’ Class C quarterfinal game.
The home fans had reason to cheer as the teams split the games. In the boys’ quarterfinal, Fallsburg prevailed by the final score of 58-41. In the girls’ quarterfinal, T-V won by the final score of 68-54.
With the victory, the Comets advanced to the Class C semifinals at No. 1 Pine Plains at 6 p.m. tonight.
The Lady Bears moved on to the Class C semifinals tonight when they will host No. 3 Tuxedo at 6 p.m.
Second quarter is key for the Comets
The first quarter of Saturday afternoon’s game was very close and competitive. At the end of those eight minutes, Fallsburg (14-5) held a 17-14 lead.
But the Comets outscored T-V 13-6 in the second quarter to push their advantage to 30-20 at halftime. T-V’s Shatik Smith scored the first basket of the period to cut Fallsburg’s lead to one point at 17-16. But the Comets responded with a 6-0 run over the next three minutes to increase their lead to 23-16 with 4:35 remaining until halftime. Russell Corley and Dustin Foertsch each made a basket and Michael Robinson swished a pair of free throws during the Comets’ run.
Fallsburg held a 46-30 advantage at the end of the third quarter and pushed its lead to as many as 21 points in the fourth quarter.
Braiden DeGraw paced the Comets’ offense with a game-high 16 points. Teammates Robinson and Rakkir Watson each added 10 points.
“The second quarter 6-0 run was very important for us,” Fallsburg Coach Pete Dworetsky said. “It gave us some momentum and then we were able to push the lead to 16 points in the third quarter.”
Dworetsky noted that T-V “works hard and doesn’t quit.”
He also said that part of his team’s game plan was to try and stop James Pugh, who is one of the Bears’ top scorers. Dworetsky said that all of his players who defended Pugh Russell Corley, Sam Didinsky, Foertsch and Danny Justiniano did a good job on Pugh. Those defenders held him to 13 points.
Dworetsky was also pleased by is team’s offense.
“We shared the ball,” he commented. “We worked the ball around and tried to get the best shot we could.”
T-V Coach Brian Tingley was happy with his team’s effort.
“We tried to give them some different looks in the first quarter,” he said. “Defensively, we played OK. We held them in the 50s. But we couldn’t do more offensively and come back once they increased their lead.”
“Fallsburg played a great game,” Tingley added. “I wish them good luck when they play Pine Plains.”
The Bears finished this season with an overall record of 12-7, which was a big improvement over last year when they only won three games.
Third quarter scoring surge propels Lady Bears to win
The key quarter of the Fallsburg vs. T-V girls’ quarterfinal was the third. With T-V holding a tenuous 33-27, the Lady Bears extended their advantage into double digits at 55-42.
T-V sophomore guard Katlynn Greffrath scored six points in the quarter. With one second left on the clock, she swished a 3-point shot to give the Lady Bears the 13-point lead and momentum going into the final eight minutes of play.
T-V (17-1) took its largest lead of the game at 63-44 when Mareena DiMilia made a baseline jumper with 5:27 remaining.
“I thought we did a good job on offense,” T-V Coach John Tenbus said. “We had a few transition baskets, but mostly we were patient with our half-court offense. We made good passes and didn’t take the first shot. We made sure we took the best shot we could.
“We got a lot of rebounds tonight,” he added. “Erin Smith and Mareena DiMilia did a good job on the boards.”
Caroline Martin and Erin Smith each scored 15 points to lead the Lady Bears.
In addition to his own players, Tenbus praised Fallsburg’s Sheryl Pinder, who scored a game-high 29 points.
“Sheryl is a great player and she played very well tonight,” Tenbus commented.
Fallsburg Coach Daniel Redmond also lauded Pinder.
“I told her before the game she had to step up and be a leader for us,” Redmond commented. “She went out and put the team on her back tonight and carried us. She played a great game.
“I was pleased with the way we played as a team,” Redmond added. “I thought we played hard, but we came up a little short.”
Redmond noted that rebounding hurt his team. “We didn’t box out,” he said. “The first time we played Tri-Valley, the second time we played them and tonight we didn’t box out well. I’ve told our players they need to get a body on someone and go up and get the rebound.”