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Bears win third annual Fred Ahart Games/Wildcat Tournament

Anthony Morgano
Posted 1/19/24

LIVINGSTON MANOR — The Fred Ahart Foundation and Livingston Manor Central School hosted the third iteration of the Fred Ahart Games/Wildcat Tournament over the weekend. The boys basketball …

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Bears win third annual Fred Ahart Games/Wildcat Tournament


LIVINGSTON MANOR — The Fred Ahart Foundation and Livingston Manor Central School hosted the third iteration of the Fred Ahart Games/Wildcat Tournament over the weekend. The boys basketball teams from Liberty, Tri-Valley, Sullivan West and Livingston Manor took part in the games, on Friday and Saturday night.

Prior to game one, between Tri-Valley and Liberty on Friday night, Roscoe senior Aiden Johnston addressed the crowd and recalled his experience with “Coach” Fred Ahart, and having grown up on the sidelines as a team manager in his younger years.

The weekend offered attendes the chance to reflect on their memories of Fred and celebrate all the good that he did, as well as the good that his family continues to do in his honor.

The weekend featured fierce competition, with four great games between the four schools before Tri-Valley was able to take home the first place plaque.

Opening Round

Tri-Valley vs Liberty

Liberty and Tri-Valley opened the 3rd Annual Fred Ahart Games/Wildcat Tournament with a close contest to earn a trip to the tournament championship game. Despite an early lead by Liberty that they held throughout the first half, it was Tri-Valley’s strong second half that propelled them to a 50-42 victory.

Both offenses started slow thanks to some fantastic defense, and after an early exchange of buckets, Liberty took a 7-5 lead after five minutes. The two teams exchanged treys and an additional bucket apiece to make it 12-10 Liberty after the first quarter.

The RedHawks clung to their lead throughout the second quarter, but were unable to gain more than a five-point advantage in the frame as Tri-Valley stayed within striking distance. By halftime, Liberty was up 23-20 as the teams headed to the locker room.

Tri-Valley made some key adjustments before coming out for the third quarter, and the success mounted quickly as they started the quarter on an 8-0 run. Despite Liberty’s attempts on offense, they struggled to put points on the board, putting just four points up in the quarter while Tri-Valley netted 20, doubling their score and taking a 40-27 lead into the fourth.

Liberty opened the fourth quarter with an 11-4 run, but they weren’t able to overcome the deficit as the Bears went on to take the win.

“We couldn’t buy a basket in the third quarter,” Liberty Coach Matt Robinson said after the game. “We got into some foul trouble and couldn’t get the rotation set. We played well in the first half, but we couldn’t put anything together in the third.”

“We got off to a slow start, but we had a big third quarter,” Tri-Valley Coach Kevin Delaney said. “Liberty is a scrappy team and they gain confidence quickly after going on a run, so we did our best to limit that tonight.”

Sullivan West at Livingston Manor

Sullivan West and Livingston Manor squared off in the second game of the tournament, and after a surprisingly similar storyline to the first game, Sullivan West was able to secure a 49-39 victory.

The Bulldogs opened up on a 9-2 run, pushing the pace and netting easy transition buckets to build their lead. The timeout seemed to help the Wildcats slightly as they got their offense going and ended the quarter on a 5-3 run to cut the Sullivan West lead to 12-7 after the first.

In the second, Sullivan West rattled off another run, this time it was 8-2, as they increased their lead to 20-9. The Wildcats ended on an 8-0 run of their own to trail by just three at halftime.

Sullivan West came out swinging in the third quarter, outscoring the Wildcats 16-5 in the frame and taking a commanding 36-22 lead into the fourth.

Livingston Manor gave it their best effort in the fourth, including a 16-7 run that cut the Bulldogs’ lead to five points, but a late 4-0 run by Sullivan West sealed the game and punched their ticket to the championship to face off against Tri-Valley on Saturday.

“We came out a bit stale tonight, and height killed us,” Livingston Manor Coach Charlie Hicks said. “They must have had triple the rebounds. Our defense really started to step up in the fourth but it didn’t correlate to enough points to win the game.”

“We knew coming into this game that we’d have to get out to a fast start,” Sullivan West Coach Ronj Padu said. “We knew they would be playing inspired basketball, but we came out hot in both halves and got into the flow early.”


Liberty vs Livingston Manor

In Saturday morning’s consolation matchup between the RedHawks and the Wildcats, Livingston Manor got off to the hot start that they lacked on Friday night, but Liberty weathered the storm and hung on for a 79-65 lead.

The two teams battled evenly in the early going, but Livingston Manor ended the first quarter on 15-7 run to take a 21-13 lead into the second.

The lead was short-lived, however, as Liberty quickly answered with a 7-2 run in the second. By halftime, Liberty had overtaken the Wildcats and led 37-32.

Livingston Manor managed to add an additional 17 points in the third quarter, but Riley Totten and Enrique Mercado took over for Liberty, as the RedHawks put up 29 in the quarter to take a 66-49 lead.

Livingston Manor got hot early in the fourth, cutting the lead down to eight but 73-65 was the closest they would get before Liberty ended on a 6-0 run to win game three.

“Their press ate us up,” Coach Hicks said after the loss. “We didn’t think it would but we ran out of gas. This was our highest scoring game of the season so far, and we hung in and competed, but hats off to Liberty for their very aggressive defense.”

“Our press worked really well and we made open shots,” Coach Robinson said. “Livingston Manor is a good, well-coached team, and it was good for us to get a win this weekend.”


Tri-Valley vs Sullivan West

In a non-league rematch of last week’s contest between the Bulldogs and the Bears, the two teams got to square off for a second time before the looming division matchup.

Sullivan West visited Tri-Valley to take the win in their first matchup, but it was Tri-Valley who would take home a 51-33 victory in the sequel.

The Bears set themselves up for success early, jumping out to an impressive 19-3 lead after the first quarter. Their defense kept the Bulldogs off balance and out of rhythm.

Sullivan West settled in during the second quarter, outscoring Tri-Valley 11-10 and cutting the lead to 29-14 at the half.

The teams came out of the locker room to start the seocnd half, and the two teams continued to stay close. Tri-Valley managed to win the third quarter 11-8, increasing their lead to 40-22 heading into the final eight minutes of the weekend.

The early lead proved to be the difference as the two teams exchanged an even 11 points apiece in the fourth quarter, securing the 51-33 victory for the Bears and closing out the annual Fred Ahart Games/Wildcat Tournament.

“We came out focused,” Coach Delaney said. “We had a good, intense defense and we got into a groove.”

“Nothing came easy today,” Coach Padu said. “Tri-Valley did a good job of attacking our zone, probably the best that a team has done against it so far this season.”

Sullivan West’s Brandon Haass and Tri-Valley’s Austin Swett were named Tournament MVP’s. Haass scored 11 in the opening round and followed it up with seven more in the Championship game. Swett netted 18 against Liberty and an additional 14 in the Championship round.


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