By Lori Brown
GRAHAMSVILLE You get the feeling that Tri-Valley’s road to a sectional title will likely involve a third battle against a gritty Chester team.
The first time the teams met in December, the Lady Bears eked out a one-point victory at Chester. Monday night in Grahamsville, Tri-Valley again outlasted Chester 49-42 in another tough Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division V game.
T-V improved to 9-0 overall and remained in first place in Div. V with a perfect 5-0 record.
Leading Tri-Valley to the victory was Mareena DiMilia who had a double-double of 14 points and 17 rebounds. Sabrena Smith scored 13 points and went 7 of 11 at the free-throw line during the third and fourth quarters. But it was the duo’s defense that Coach John Tenbus wanted to talk about.
“We have to play scrappy, because we are undersized,” Tenbus said. “Mareena [DiMilia] did a great job boxing out. Sabrena Smith has leadership on defense.
“The first half we played fullcourt man [to man defense] and changed it to a 2-3 zone in the second half,” Tenbus continued. “In the third quarter we pulled away. We got them out of rhythm and made them shoot further out.
In the second quarter, Chester’s Ashley Georges scored a basket to give her team a 17-16 lead. But T-V responded with a 7-0 scoring run to take a 23-17 lead at halftime. DiMilia netted four points in the run, Erin Smith made a foul shot and Keira McHugh scored with just 2.3 seconds left in the period.
The Lady Bears began the third quarter with a 6-0 run to extend their lead to 29-17. At the end of the period, T-V held a 39-24 advantage.
It was a good thing for the Lady Bears that they had the 15-point lead as Chester (8-3, 4-3 Div. V) rallied in the fourth quarter. The Lady Hambletonians went on a 10-0 run in the final 2:40 of the game to draw within the final seven-point margin. Ashley Georges, Mardelle Jean and Kathryn Jankelunas all made 3-point shots in the late surge.
Tri-Valley helped seal the deal by making 6 of its 10 free throws in the fourth quarter.
“We are still learning on how to close out a game,” said Tenbus. “We dealt with the pressure by Chester, but it was speeding us up on our end of the court.”
Ashley Georges led Chester offense with 13 points. Teammates Mardelle Jean and Simone Ayers each added eight points.
“We felt the pressure from T-V,” Chester Coach Peter Rickard said. “We have to learn how to win on the road.
“In the third [quarter] we came out flat,” Rickard added. “We took a half step back today and it hurt us on defense.
“But my team hustled and worked very hard. “Simone [Ayers] is a freshman and is doing well. Mardelle [Jean] recorded seven steals and five rebounds.”
Chester is scheduled to play Div. V games against Eldred on Monday and Tuxedo on Wednesday. T-V was slated to host Livingston Manor yesterday in a non-league game and play at The Family School on Monday in another non-league game.