SK nips RCS in boys' hoop thriller
By Julia Green
SK 55, Roxbury 51 (Jan. 13)
A 21-4 third quarter got the Roxbury Rockets back in the game last week Tuesday night, but it wasn’t quite enough to lead them to victory. Ryan Skipper tallied eight points in the quarter, with six from Tim Douglas and five from DaVaun Morgan. Morgan and Skipper tallied 17 points each on the night for the Rockets, who were down by 18 at halftime.
“On the whole, I was pleasantly surprised,” said Roxbury Head Coach Tom Faraci. “We were down 18 points and we made a game out of it.” In terms of the Rockets’ boost in the third quarter, Faraci said that nothing was changed in terms of strategy.
“In the first half, we had some plays we needed to make to stay in the ball game and we didn’t,” he said. “Then in the third, we made some plays, played some pretty good defense, and didn’t give up a lot of second opportunities.”
South Kortright was led by Eric Burns, who tallied 26 points for the Rams, with 16 of those points coming in the first half.
“We paid a lot of attention to [Burns] last year as far as the things he does, and we knew that coming in. He was a difference in the game; when we went up five, he answered with a three-point play and a basket to tie it back up again, and he may have been responsible for the next two points, so he really made a difference in the fourth quarter, especially at the end.”
Morgan and Douglas combined to tally 17 rebounds for the Rockets.
RCS 71, Andes 38 (Jan. 14)
The Rockets turned around and took out their frustration on the host Mountaineers when they traveled to Andes last Wednesday night, defeating their hosts soundly and moving to 5-5 overall and 3-3 in league play.
“I think we played OK,” Faraci said. “It was one of those games that, when you look at the rest of the season and the games you’re going to need to win, that was a big game for us, to come out and make sure we give ourselves a chance to win and a chance for Sectionals.”
The Rockets jumped to an early lead, outscoring the Mountaineers 16-4 in the first quarter and 15-8 in the second to give them a 31-12 lead going into halftime.
“We did a nice job on the boards and in transition,” Faraci said of the first half. “I think we got out and got some good transition points and a few steals here and there. It seemed like we were getting up and down the floor pretty well.”
The Mountaineers found the basket more in the third quarter, tallying 15 points, but the Rockets outscored them once again, tallying 24 points.
“That certainly was a tough night, but we had a couple bright spots,” said Andes Head Coach John Bernhardt. “One, we handled their full-court pressure quite effectively; second, Eric Reed has his best game of the year. We were playing without Cody Ruff, our point guard, and Eric stepped up and scored 15 point and had only three turnovers.
“And certainly from the Roxbury side, their tandem of Ryan Skipper and DaVaun Morgan were in full gear,” he added “They were playing really well, and we didn’t have an answer for them.”
Roxbury was once again led by Skipper and Morgan, who tallied 23 and 20 points for the Rockets, respectively. Tim Douglas added nine for RCS, which was 8-11 from the free throw line.
Andes was led by Eric Reed with 15 points, all of which came in the second half, while Ethan Berghammer added eight for the Mountaineers.
Windham 31, Margaretville 49 (Wednesday, Jan. 14)
Brian Faulkner struck twice at the start of the Blue Devils’ game against Windham last Wednesday, sinking the first bucket of the game six seconds in to put Margaretville on the board first. The host Blue Devils had a 10-9 lead at the end of the first quarter, which they extended to a 29-15 lead by the end of the first half on ten points in the second quarter from Faulkner and five from Marcus Moore, which included a three-pointer.
“I thought we played well,” said Margaretville Head Coach Jeremey Marks. “We were very active defensively, we got hands up on shooters and we did a nice job rebounding, limiting them to one shot. We also limited our turnovers, created some turnovers of our own with our pressure and did a good job executing our offense in the half-court.”
Faulkner led the Blue Devils with 17 points, 16 of which came in the first half, and Jon Lee and Moore contributed nine apiece, the majority of which came in the second half.
Margaretville went on a 19-6 scoring run in the second quarter, widening a lead that they never relinquished and never got closer than 14.
“I think we were patient on offense,” Marks said of his team’s second-quarter performance. “We worked the ball around, they played a zone and our guys were making the extra pass and not settling for a three or a long jump shot. We shot the ball pretty well in that second quarter. We do better offensively when we don’t do one pass and shoot, but when we’re patient and we’re making the defense work. Our shot selection improves and we tend to shoot a higher percentage.”
Wednesday’s win was the Blue Devils’ second win of the season, which Marks attributes to him team’s recommitment after the winter break.
“Mentally, at the start of the new year, we recommitted to getting better and more competitive in practice, and it just goes to show what a good week of practice can do for you,” he said.
Roxbury 52, Downsville 47 (Friday, Jan. 16)
Fifteen points each in the first and second quarters set the pace for Roxbury’s win over Downsville on Friday.
“I wouldn’t say that was our best performance in too many categories,” Faraci said. “We just kind of struggled all over the place. We got down 6-0 early, then we came back and had some great opportunities and missed them; it seemed like a struggle all night.”
Eleven of DaVaun Morgan’s game-high 20 points came in the first half, when he hit all three of his three-pointers.
“He came alive,” Faraci said. “He kind of struggled in the first quarter, then [Ryan] Skipper got in some foul trouble and so he was kind of able to bridge that gap a little bit there in the second. That was definitely a big boost for us.”
The Rockets never trailed in the second half, when the Eagles were able to cut their lead to three but got no closer as time ran down.
Also noteworthy was the Roxbury defense’s ability to limit Downsville’s leading scorer Dustin Keesler to a mere three points.
“We purposely tried to make him work really hard all night,” Faraci said of Keesler. “That was good, but we also gave other guys more points, so it was kind of a wash that way.”
Friday was Roxbury’s third game in five days, which Faraci acknowledged may have contributed to his team’s struggles at Downsville.
“Yeah, you’re playing three games, but we’re also trying to work on that consistency thing where we’re going to come out with equal intensity in every game,” he said. “We’re still trying to get there.”
Skipper added 14 points for the Rockets, who faced Gilboa at home yesterday and travel to Windham on Thursday.
Looking forward, Faraci said the Roxbury boys are focused on getting themselves into a good position in preparation for postseason play.
“As far as our side of the league, you know, we’re kind of in tough shape in terms of not beating Kortright the other night, and there’s not going to be a ton of teams that are going to challenge them, so we’re going to be in a bad spot there. But in as far as getting to Sectionals and getting a decent seed, looking at next week that’s important for us, to get a couple of games, get on a roll, and see if we can win a couple of games here late in the season.”
Margaretville 27, Charlotte Valley 64 (Friday, Jan. 16)
“We didn’t play well, and part of that was that I didn’t think we prepared well in practice the day before,” said Margaretville Head Coach Jeremey Marks of his team’s 64-27 loss to Charlotte Valley on Friday. “Give credit to Charlotte Valley, they played well and pressured us into way too many turnovers, and it seemed like every turnover we made led to them converting. That’s the tough thing about it: it’s one thing to turn it over, but it’s another to turn it over and have it lead to two easy points, and that’s what they were doing.”
Turnovers were the main downfall of the visiting Blue Devils, who went in the hole early, tallying only three points to the Wildcats’ 23. Despite holding the host Wildcats to just four points in the first three minutes, turnovers began to plague the Margaretville offense as Charlotte Valley went on a 19-1 scoring run to close out the quarter.
The Blue Devil offense was marginally better in the second quarter, with Margaretville tallying nine points, but Charlotte Valley kept the pressure on, tallying 22 points to give them a 45-12 lead at halftime.
“A lot of it was self-inflicted,” Marks said. “It was poor decisions on offense that led to easy transition buckets for them. It seemed like we did OK when we could get them in the half-court, but our turnovers were costly. Out of their 45 points, I bet 30 were fast break-type points.
“Give credit to them – they’re a good team and their pressure hurt us.”
The Blue Devils were led by Brian Faulkner with eight points and Marcus Moore with seven. Patrick O’Connell, who was recently pulled up from the JV ranks, contributed six points for Margaretville.
The Blue Devils will host Andes at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.
South Kortright 60, Andes 40
Despite a one-point lead for Andes at the close of the first quarter, the visiting Rams battled back in the second quarter to take an 11-point lead over the host Mountaineers on Friday night, when undefeated South Kortright defeated Andes 60-40.
“I was very pleased with the way we played against Kortright,” Bernhardt said. “We probably had our best sustained focus of the year, and for the first 20 minutes of that game it was a really competitive contest.”
Following the Mountaineers’ one-point lead at the close of the first quarter, the Rams changed up their press, which threw the Andes boys for a bit of a loop.
“It took us a minute and a half or two minutes to kind of settle in and adjust to the change, and during that minute and a half or two minutes, they went up eight points, and ended up going into halftime up 11,” Bernhardt said.
The Mountaineers came back and scored the first six points of the second half and continued to battle, pulling within five of the Rams as time ran down, but were unable to close the gap any further.
The fourth-ranked Rams were led by Tanner Metzko, who tallied 15 of his game-high 19 points in the first half.
“As everybody knows, South Kortright is very strong and very deep, and they have an exceptionally hard inside game,” Bernhardt said. “They battle and bang you around that basket something fierce. We didn’t lose our cool or lose our focus as we have in many games where I thought we could have won.”
Andes was led by Ethan Berghammer and Cody Ruff, who tallied 11 points each for the Mountaineers. Ruff added six rebounds, five steals and five assists to his stats, while teammate Josh Bonifacic added nine rebounds.
“Ethan and Cody had very good all-around games,” Bernhard added. “From the guard position, that was a lot of productivity; they did very well.”
Friday’s loss gave the Mountaineers a 6-6 overall and 2-5 league record as they headed into Tuesday’s game against Downsville. Andes will play at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Margaretville.