FALLSBURG – Across the spectrum of basketball teams in Sullivan County, there is no shortage of talent. True, some teams have more of it than others. But talent alone does not guarantee …
FALLSBURG – Across the spectrum of basketball teams in Sullivan County, there is no shortage of talent. True, some teams have more of it than others. But talent alone does not guarantee success. Effective deployment of fundamentals and crisp execution are necessary adjuncts to that talent. So too, is the ability to make adjustments during a game when things are not going well.
For the Fallsburg Comets, under their savvy coach Lionel White, a poor performance during most of the first half of their non-league fray versus Tri-Valley, coupled with the Bears’ smooth execution, initially seemed to augur a mismatch that could lead to a Tri-Valley road win.
The adage that “cream rises to the top,” showed its veracity as T-V’s Matt Fanslau and Fallsburg’s Eugene Johnson each posted a game-high 21 points. Johnson, the tallest player on the floor, eventually found his groove in the paint and help foster a late run that would see the Comets pull away from the Bears down the stretch. That run was abetted by Andrew Rein’s eight-point fourth quarter output.
The Bears led 11-9 at the end of the first quarter and were up by as much as seven points before the Comets cut that lead to four just before the break with the Bears on top 23-19. White assessed the problem and used his halftime instructions to his team to try and alleviate it.
“We were just reaching and not playing fundamental defense,” he observed.
That changed in the second half as the Comets outscored T-V 15-13 in the third quarter and even more emphatically, 21-13 in the final frame.
Turnovers were a problem for both squads with T-V coughing it up 23 times to Fallsburg’s 21. Where T-V showed clear superiority was from the free throw line by converting 15-of-18 for a stunning 83%. By comparison, The Comets were a dismal five-of-26 (barely 19%). Rarely will a team win with such a glaring inefficiency from the stripe. But tough Fallsburg defense forced T-V to shoot more from the perimeter.
The Comets outrebounded the Bears which fueled a transition game that led to opportunities in the paint. That shift in dynamic was in sharp contrast to the first half wherein laxer Fallsburg defense enabled the Bears to often penetrate and score some easy baskets.
The Comets improved to 4-4, while the Bears fell to 2-6. For T-V Coach Kevin Delaney, it was a tough night watching his team’s early success melt away.
The Bears will need a league win over either Seward, who they beat earlier, or Sullivan West, a team that eked out a victory over them in Lake Huntington, to punch a ticket to the postseason.
T-V’s Ian Mullen, who suffered a dislocated shoulder in that fray with the Bulldogs, played valiantly in this tilt. He is, as his football performance in the fall clearly demonstrated, a tough customer. Things got a bit dicey on the floor late in the game with some words and shoves that caused the officials to issue technical fouls to both squads. Coaches and officials quieted things down and the game played out without further incident.
Tri-Valley squared off against Roscoe in the Fred Ahart tournament on January 14. Their rematch with Seward will be on the Spartans’ home floor tonight. The Comets will host Liberty in a league clash tonight.
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