By Lori Brown
GRAHAMSVILLE Tri-Valley cut a 20-point deficit to six points late in the fourth quarter, but could get no closer in a 52-44 Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division V basketball game against S.S. Seward.
“It started with Seward getting the [opening] tip,” T-V Coach Brian Tingley said. “We were a little timid at the beginning. Seward is used to coming in and crushing us and our boys have seen that in the past.”
Tingley was proud of the way his team fought back and made a game of it.
“Our defense was really good and we did what we wanted to do,” said Tingley. “We had a chance and didn’t give up. With 45 seconds to go, we had a six-point game and we didn’t back down.”
In the third quarter, both teams went back and forth exchanging shots. But Seward (5-3, 2-0 Div. V) outscored the Bears 20-15 during those eight minutes to extend its lead to 42-28.
T-V’s Shatik Smith started the fourth quarter by making a pair of foul shots. But Seward’s Anthony Bailey scored four points and Shawn Howell swished two free throws to increase the lead to 20 points halfway through that final period. T-V (3-4, 1-1 Div. V) mustered a late charge, scoring 14 points in the last four minutes to pull with in six points with 22 seconds remaining.
Unfortunately for the Bears, it was too much too late as Isaac Rodriguez made two free throws with 7.7 seconds on the clock to seal the Spartans’ 52-44 win.
Rodney Jester and Smith each scored eight points in the fourth quarter to lead the T-V comeback, which Tingley said was spurred by his bench.
“After halftime the game was OK,” Tingley said. “We fought back from a 50-30 score and cut it to within six points. Our second unit, coming fresh from the bench, stopped them. We scored 44 points and held them. I am proud of our guys on the bench.
Seward coach Rob Gravelle was not as quick to [raise his team.
“We played very poorly,” Seward Coach Gravelle said. “T-V had a lot of energy and we brought none. T-V played like they wanted a victory, not us.
“John Sgombick played really well and Anthony Bailey always plays good,” Gravelle said of his top scorers who each had 17 points.
Sgombick recorded nine of his points on a trio of 3-point shots in the third quarter. Bailey scored nine of his points in the first quarter to help the Spartans take an early 13-7 advantage.
Smith was T-V’s top scorer with 11 points. Also contributing for the Bears were James Pugh, who had nine points, and Jester, who netted eight points.
Tingley praised Smith for his performance.
“Shatik Smith played good and picked up the energy and got the offense moving for us,” Tingley said. “He was on today and didn’t mind getting into the paint.
“During the second half we only had three turnovers and that helped,” Tingley added. “We had 12 [turnovers] for the game as we were holding onto the ball.”