By Rob Potter
LIVINGSTON MANOR In three previous meetings this season, the Livingston Manor Wildcats defeated the Roscoe Blue Devils by very convincing margins.
Even so, Manor Coach Charlie Hicks wasn’t taking anything for granted when the Wildcats hosted the Blue Devils on Monday night in a semifinal game of the Section IX Class D Boys’ Basketball Tournament.
“I told our team that Roscoe would come out ready to play tonight,” Hicks said. “Even though we already beat them three times this season, Roscoe was going to play hard tonight and not quit.”
Hicks was correct as No. 4 seed Roscoe (3-16) held the lead for much of the first four minutes of the game. But No. 1 seed Manor outscored the Blue Devils 11-3 in the final three minutes of the first quarter to take a 20-12 lead.
After pushing its lead to 41-28 at halftime, the Wildcats put the game away in the third quarter, outscoring the Blue Devils 29-6 en route to the easy 82-47 victory.
With the win, Manor (13-5) advanced to the Class D championship game. The Wildcats will play the No. 2 seed John A. Coleman Statesmen for the Class D title at 5 p.m. tomorrow at SUNY New Paltz.
Manor had a balanced scoring attack as four players finished in double figures. Troy Correa led the way with a game-high 24 points. Mike Mills recorded 20 points, Josh Janik netted 13 points and Ken Fisk had 10 points.
Janik recorded a double-double as he grabbed 10 rebounds to go with his 13 points. In addition, Mills had eight rebounds, four assists and three steals and Correa registered five assists and four steals.
“We played good team basketball tonight,” he said. “We shared the ball and everyone had an offensive stat. Our guys weren’t worried about who scored the basket, just that we scored it. They played for the name on the front of their jersey and not for the name on the back of their jersey.”
Hicks knows that the Wildcats will be facing a tough opponent in the title game. Last year, Coleman defeated Manor, 58-37, in the Class D championship game. Though Coleman finished with a 4-11 overall record this season, the Statesmen lost most of those games to Class A and B schools from the Mid-Hudson Athletic Conference (MHAL).
“We want to win the section title extremely badly,” Hicks explained. “Our goal is to win the first Section IX boys’ basketball championship for Livingston Manor.”
“I believe we can do it,” Hicks continued. “We are playing well and have a huge group of seniors leading us.”
Rob Taurino made five 3-point shots and finished the evening with 17 points to lead the Blue Devils’ offense. Mike Failla added 12 points for Roscoe.
“I thought we played well in the first half,” Roscoe Coach Fred Ahart said. “But Manor took over the game in the third quarter and outscored us by 23 points. The third quarter is the key in the outcome of many basketball games.
“Charlie [Hicks] does a great job of coaching and Manor has a fine team,” Ahart added. “They are certainly playing well heading into the championship game and we wish them well.”
Ahart also gave his own team credit.
“I’m very proud of our players,” he said. “They played hard right until the end of the game.”
The veteran coach noted the game was the final one for four seniors: Mike Failla, Jesse Huggins, Tyler Melvin and Jordan Tallman.
“Jordan and Jesse played four years on the varsity team,” Ahart commented. “Mike was a three-year varsity player and Tyler played parts of three years on the varsity. They are all good players and they will be missed next year.”
Ahart also recognized Evan Chesney, who could not play because of an injury but sat on the bench dressed in his Blue Devils warmups to support his teammates.