Monticello Downs Short-Handed Liberty For Third Straight Win In Young Season; Lady Indians Come Alive In Fourth Quarter On A Night When Indians’ Shots Just Wouldn’t Fall
Monticello 46, Liberty 23
By RICHARD A. ROSS
MONTICELLO, NY—When it comes to school size, Monticello and Liberty are the bigs in Sullivan County. As such, their encounters with one another, though always of a non-league variety, have a special allure even if one or both teams is struggling as has been the case in recent years.
But it’s a new season now and the Lady Panthers as well as the Lady Indians are fielding teams that are a blend of experienced players along with a cadre of youngsters who are new to the varsity realm.
Coming into the Pit in Monticello is always a challenge for Liberty teams but on this December 13 night, Coach Beth Quatrale knew it would be even more daunting without three of her key starters in NIkole Snyder, Selena Vargas and Katie Giarratano all missing in action for a variety of reasons. That would leave veterans Olivia Baum and Justice Dingevan to carry the load and as it turned out, they would be the only two players to score on the night as Baum would post 17 to Dingevan’s pair of treys.
Liberty struggled mightily early on as it went scoreless throughout the first quarter and halfway through the second when Baum finally converted a steal into a layup. She’d go on to score two more buckets in the second stanza to provide Liberty with six points by halftime to Monticellos’s 23. The Lady Panthers led 8-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Four of those first quarter points came from junior standout Shamira Moore. The Lady Monties also got buckets from junior Arianna Decosta and freshman Yamilersy Reyes. Moore added a pair of free throws in the second quarter as part of Monticello’s seven-point output. Senior Zequia Revell posted her lone basket and Monticello benefited from two free throws from Yadira Montes and one from Yami Reyes.
Both teams had trouble converting shots as well as taking care of the basketball. Turnovers abounded as errant passes were picked off both ways giving both Quatrale and Monticello Coach Karen Atack plenty to concentrate on in upcoming practices.
Moore was the big difference in this game as she evinced outstanding play at both ends of the floor. In the third quarter she netted 14 points. Her only issue was her lackluster free throw shooting as she canned only two-for-11 from the stripe. To their credit, Liberty held her scoreless in the final frame.
Decosta was Monticello’s other major weapon. She scored 11 points on the night, seven of which came in the fourth quarter and included the Monties’ lone trey of the game.
As for Liberty, were it not for Baum’s relentless pursuit, even in the face of early struggles, the final outcome could have been far worse. Monticello’s fourth quarter defensive laxity that featured players out of positions and at times an uncontested path to the basket for Baum, allowed her to catch fire. Needless to say, Atack was not pleased with that aspect of the game.
Monticello improved to 3-0 adding this victory to a pair of commanding wins over struggling Family. The Lady Monties will test their early season mettle against winless Sullivan West on the Lady Bulldogs home court debut on December 14. Sullivan West scouted this game to get a preview of the Lady Monties and of course Division IV rival Liberty which fell to 1-2. Its lone win came against S.S. Seward in the Spartan Invitational Tournament. They lost the title game to Goshen.
Quatrale was upbeat about her team’s efforts despite the outcome. “I thought the biggest difference was that my team was playing relaxed in the fourth quarter. It’s tough when the ball won’t go in the basket, but if you force it, it still won’t go in. As I told my team, I can’t be upset with a game like that when I know that every girl on the court was giving 100 percent. The heart was there, the ball just wasn’t falling.
Liberty hosts Port Jervis for its home opener on December 15. It’s next game will come after the New Year. With three starters not here tonight, it gave younger girls a chance to step up and show that they really deserve to be on the court. There were few mental mistakes. We were where we were supposed to be. It’s just a case of putting the ball in the basket now,” she concluded.
Atack is certainly pleased with her team’s 3-0 start. “We’ll take it,’ she said while emphasizing the things that need a lot of work if the success is to continue against far tougher teams. The Lady Monties host Cornwall on December 16 and the type of play they evinced in this game won’t fly against the Lady Dragons.
“We realize we played a weakened team tonight,” said Atack referencing the fact that Liberty was missing key players. “If we don’t take care of the ball we know what is going to happen. We still have a lot of things we have to iron out. We have a young team. They’re willing to work and they never give up. The hustle is there but we just made a lot of errors.
Rebounding was not one of the problems. Moore led the team with 17 boards and Revell had 12. Freshman guard Lena Episalla had nine rebounds. Revell had 10 steals and Moore had seven.” Atack credited Moore and Revell with playing an excellent game.
“We need to have better leadership. If I don’t call it out, no one is presently calling it out on the court. We have a lot more talent than we’ve had in the recent past but it’s not tamed yet,” she noted. “We’re having a problem with getting five people to do what they’re supposed to do at the same time.
Monticello’s three win start constitutes half of its total season victory total from last year. But Atack, ever conscious of what it takes to win against tough opponents will not let her team sit back on their early season laurels. For one thing Monticello was a woeful seven-for 22 from the line (31.8%).
“We have a really young team,” added Atack who was missing junior tall tree Nyasia Blakney for this outing. With only one senior in Revell, the squad goes to war with five juniors in Decosta, Moore, Yadira Montes, Blakney and Amber Grobusch. Three sophomores include Quasia Walker, Latise Sanders and Deanna Snowden, along with freshmen Shandell Jones, Yami Reyes and Lena Episalla.
Liberty’s team on this night was comprised of Rachel Bayer, Zaira Pabon, Erin Kinne, Cindy Fuentes, Stephanie Heisler, Olivia Baum, Amanda Bertholf, Justice Dingevan, Kelly Santos, Brittany Roa and Tea Williams.
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