Ed Townsend | Democrat
Tri-Valley's Katlynn Greffrath goes up for a jump shot in a game earlier this season. Along with Caroline Martin, she helped lead the Class C Bears to two victories over Class AA teams and the Lady Raider Holiday tourney in Highland Falls.
HIGHLAND FALLS December 31, 2013 Tri-Valley girls’ basketball team played David at the Lady Raider Holiday basketball tournament defeating Class AA Minisink Valley and Middletown in consecutive nights to win the tournament in convincing fashion.
The undefeated Class C Bears (6-0) are sure to rise from their No. 8 ranking in the state after dispatching of the two larger schools. First- year coach Jason Closs said his team was excited about the tournament going in because they would be playing the larger schools.
“We were looking forward to this tournament to get a realistic idea of where our team is at a third of the way through our schedule,” said Closs. “We have been in the [O'Neill] tournament in prior years. It is a tougher tournament, but there are quite a few tournaments that have one smaller opponent in the mix. It's a challenge for us to compete, but challenges are what make you stretch and improve. Win or lose, we come out a better team.
“The fact that they were AA opponents meant our team needed to step up and answer the bell. These teams were not going to give us anything because we are a smaller school.”
In the semifinals against Minisink, Tri-Valley trailed by four at halftime, but responded with a second-half burst to secure the 45-39 victory.
“They ran us up and down the floor in the second half,” said Minisink coach Chuck Reynolds, who admitted his team is in a rebuilding year after losing eight seniors. “But they can compete with anyone. They have great team speed and hustle and are very well-coached. Also, sometimes at these smaller schools where they have been playing together for a while, those teams are as good as the AA schools.”
Reynolds said his team was prepared for leading scorer Katlynn Greffrath, but didn’t have an answer for Caroline Martin, who scored a game-high 28 points and was later named the Tournament MVP.
“She was terrific,” said Reynolds. “She was the best player on the court tonight.”
Closs said he knew his team could play at this level he just wasn’t sure if they could withstand the depth and size of a bigger team for the entire game.
“We knew we could compete,” said Closs. “The question for us was could we beat an opponent that had the combination of athletic guards and some size at the forward position? Also, could we finish a team that didn't go away, but kept playing and pushing us for 32 minutes?”
Tri-Valley dominated Middletown in the championship game on Saturday as Martin scored 15 points, Greffrath 14 and Sabrena Smith 10.
“We are working hard and have a desire to get better,” said Closs following the victory. “We have plenty to improve on to be where we want to be, but we are willing to put in the work. We are also very unselfish. We have had three different players lead us in scoring in our games so far. When "We" replaces "I", everything becomes a lot easier.”
Tri-Valley will now settle into its Class C league schedule, which will likely be easier than the AA opponents faced in the Lady Raider tourney.
Still, Closs said his team will be hungry and not look past anyone.
“We will respect every opponent and prepare appropriately for every game,” said Closs. “There are plenty of solid coaches with willing players that want to beat you each game. We don't take winning for granted and we respect the other team. When that does not happen, a team is ripe to be beaten.”
While Closs knows he has a talented team, he is staying in the present and resisting a glance down the road to sectionals and beyond.
“We have shown some potential to be a solid team. When we show potential, we have a responsibility to reach that potential. We will continue to do everything necessary to keep getting better every practice and every game.”