MCS boys edge Wildcats
By John Bernhardt
“Box scores lie,” former New Jersey Nets’ power forward Kenyan Martin growled at reporters when explaining the value of teammate Jason Kidd’s contribution to the Nets after Kidd recorded rather pedestrian statistics in a victory several years ago. Martin’s claim could have described Margaretville guard Matt VanValkenburg when he was the only Blue Devils’ starter who failed to reach double figures as Margaretville upended Hunter-Tannersville, 66-60, last week. Box scores lie!
Whether it was setting up center Mitch Hull to score from the inside with high lob passes, hitting strong forward Ryan Sanford cutting through the lane for a layup, penetrating the lane and kicking the ball out to teammate Kyle Short for wide open three-point looks, stealing the ball and finding Cooper Rei-ther streaking ahead of the Hunter defense for a layup, or penetrating the lane, faking a pitch back, then completing a scoop drive of his own,
VanValkenburg did a little bit of everything in the second half last week. VanValkenburg’s wizardry, his teammates finishing touches, and inspired defensive play staged a memorable come-from-behind victory.
The Blue Devils were listless and struggled getting anything going in the opening half, falling behind 31-21 by intermission. Kyle Short opened the second half with a driving score, before H-T countered with back-to-back scores by Dylan Legg, the second at the end of a nifty no-look pass from Zach Mudge to give H-T their largest lead at 35-23.
The next nine or 10 minutes of basketball were unprecedented in recent Margaretville seasons. The Blue Devils ran off 12 consecutive points to tie the score, highlighted by two three-point plays sandwiched around a technical foul shot. The first three-point play was the old-fashioned variety with Hull scoring from the inside and drawing a foul. After the technical foul shot, Short buried a three-point bomb from the corner, and the Devils were on their way.
Mudge drove the lane splitting two defenders and threading a pass to Neil Statts for a score, giving H-T back the lead at 37-35 to end the Blue Devils’ run. Short countered with another three-point missile, one of six in the game and four in Margaretville’s second-half rally, to give the Blue Devils the lead at 38-37, a lead they would never relinquish.
A VanValkenburg steal turned into a Cooper Reither layup putting Margaretville up by three. Dylan Legg’s one-dribble pull-up jumper on the baseline cut the margin to one, but another VanValkenburg steal with an assist to Short for his third trey of the quarter gave Margaretville a 43-39 lead at the break.
That basket started a second Blue Devils’ run, this time stretching to 14 points and giving the home team a 54-39 advantage with just over five minutes to play. VanValkenburg had his hand in 11 of the 14 points of the run assisting on three three-point field goals and finishing the scoop drive layup of his own.
When Mudge buried a three-point goal with 29.9 seconds left, the Margaretville lead had melted to just three points, 63-60. Foul shooting by VanValkenburg, Hull, and Reither in the closing seconds put the game on ice.
VanValkenburg finished the night with 10 assists. Short led a balanced Blue Devils’ attack netting a game-high 23 points. Ryan Sanford continues to impress with strong play around the basket and accurate foul shooting, scoring 16. Mitch Hull added 11 and Cooper Reither 10.
Devils top Warriors
A huge first quarter lifted Margaretville past Windham on the Warriors’ home court Friday night. The Blue Devils outscored their hosts, 25-6, in the opening salvo and then coasted to a 54-19 victory.
Three Blue Devils reached double figures with strong forward Ryan Sanford leading the way with 15 points. The outing continues a series of impressive nights for Sanford which began at the MCS Booster Tournament earlier in the week. Mitch Hull scored 14 points and Kyle Short had12 for the Blue Devils.
The victory starts a six-game run away from home for the Blue Devils. Margaretville (5-1, 3-1) will play their next three games in Downsville starting with the Downsville Holiday Tournament on December 27 and 28.