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Welcome to the wild, wild West

SW boys and girls edge Tri-Valley via intensively physical home defense

Richard A. Ross
Posted 1/10/23

LAKE HUNTINGTON – A new year brings its share of resolutions and resolve, intentions to start anew with greater effort and persistence.  

For Sullivan West and Tri-Valley, Division V …

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Welcome to the wild, wild West

SW boys and girls edge Tri-Valley via intensively physical home defense


LAKE HUNTINGTON – A new year brings its share of resolutions and resolve, intentions to start anew with greater effort and persistence. 

For Sullivan West and Tri-Valley, Division V hoops rivals, that agenda focuses on garnering two league wins out of the four on the docket that includes frays against S.S. Seward. Regardless of their overall record at the end of the regular season, those wins would be sufficient to punch a ticket to sectionals. 

Needless to say, this past week’s encounters between the Bulldogs and the Bears in Lake Huntington, were bound to be intense. More accurately put, they were frenetic, physical clashes featuring staunch defense that spawned a plethora of fouls. In these kind of games, free throw accuracy, or the lack thereof, become key in the outcome. 

Lady Bulldogs corral Lady Bears with stifling defense

For Sullivan West coach Pat Donovan’s Lady Bulldogs, the key to beating Tri-Valley was to deny them open looks at the basket, pressure the ball from the inbounds line and deny the passing lanes.  Their efforts were successful in outscoring the Lady Bears in three of the four quarters. 

The game was tight in the early going with neither team able to score until SW’s Lanie Herbert was fouled and made one of her two free throws at the 4:30 mark to break the tie. Sullivan West led 7-2 at the end of the first quarter and 19-11 at the half before opening up a big lead in the third with a 17-point flurry, while holding  T-V to seven. 

The 36-18 lead heading into the fourth quarter was large enough to hold off T-V’s fourth quarter 16-point awakening, while holding their hosts to a mere five. That said, it was too little and too late as the final buzzer signaled the 41-34 SW victory. 

Lanie Herbert led the Lady Bulldogs with 15, while teammates Violla Shami and Karlee Diehl posted seven and six respectively. T-V’s Mackenzie Closs scored a team-high 15 points. Jenna Carmody had six and Jocelyn Mungeer had five. The Lady Bulldogs improved to 3-4 (1-0), while Tri-Valley fell to 2-1 (0-1). 

Sullivan West will travel to Burke tonight for a non-league encounter, while T-V hosts Seward. A win by the Lady Bears will guarantee a berth in sectionals. 

Tri-Valley coach Jason Closs noted, “In the first half we had some open looks but we just weren’t making them. We can be competitive with any team on our schedule. We’re looking forward to our game against Seward.” T-V had victories over Roscoe and Burke.  

Donovan noted, “We wanted to play tough defense to get them out of their comfort zone.” And so they did.

SW boys holds off T-V in nail biter league fray

In what has become one of the greatest rivalries in Sullivan County, Sullivan West and Tri-Valley resumed their edgy competitiveness that had defined their relationship in football. In the fall, SW handily beat T-V in their gridiron clash, but the Bears went on to become eight-man football champs while SW fell in the semifinals to Spackenkill. 

You could tell from the posture and vocal nature of the opposing populace in the bleachers that there was no love loss between the enclaves from the two schools. 

This being a league game, the ante was high, and the SW Dawg Pound was in rare form with their cheers and signature wave led by senior Will Nearing. This game was even more physical than the girls’ game the night before. 

SW would commit an unprecedented 13 fouls in the first half, but the Bears were sub-par from the line and unable to capitalize on the gift. By game’s end they were a paltry 7/20 from the stripe (35%), by far the greatest factor in their two-point loss. The Bulldogs weren’t much better with 7-for 17 (41%).  SW led 9-5 at the end of the first quarter and 23-16 at the half. 

T-V nearly doubled up SW in the third stanza outscoring SW 13-7 to cut the deficit to 30-29 after three periods. The teams played nearly even in the fourth with the Westies posting a 9-8 advantage in the frame to make the final tally a 39-37 Bulldogs’ win. T-V had a couple of chances down the stretch to tie the game or win it but failed to convert. 

Andrew Hubert led Sullivan West with 11 points. Jacob Hubert and Evan Ebert added eight and seven respectively. Gavin Clarke led Tri-Valley with 14 points. Matt Fanslau added eight. 

Sullivan West improved to 3-5 (1-0), while Tri-Valley fell to 2-5 (1-1). The Bears had already beaten Seward, so both rivals need just one more league win to qualify for sectionals. 

Sullivan West coach John Meyer said, “That was just good old-fashioned basketball.” 

Tri-Valley had held a four-point lead towards the end of the third quarter, but SW roared back as Allyn Walter got the go-ahead shot to define a 30-29 SW lead heading into the fourth quarter. 

“This was two evenly matched teams. It could have gone either way. I’m just glad we got out with the win, especially for Jerry Davitt on the night he was honored.” 

Meyer added, “It has been a pleasure to be around him as he serves as my assistant this year. He coached against me when I was a player. I had so much respect for him. He’s forgotten more than I’ll ever know.”


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