Fourth Annual Coaches Versus Cancer Classic Features An Expanded Docket Of Games To Raise Money For The Catskill Regional Oncology Unit; Livingston Manor And Tri-Valley Girls Prevail As Do Monticello Junior Varsity and Varsity Boys; Sullivan County Generals Record Mens and Womens Victories
Girls Varsity: Livingston Manor 48, Eldred 22
Boys Junior Varsity Monticello 61, Liberty 29
Varsity Boys: Monticello 65, Liberty 42
Girls Varsity Tri-Valley 64, Sullivan West 17
Womens College SCCC 59, Manhattan CC 54
Mens College SCCC 80, Manhattan CC 50
By RICHARD A. ROSS
Photos at: www.sportsinsights.smugmug.com
LOCH SHELDRAKE, NY—(The following introduction is taken verbatim from the piece I wrote two years ago and again for last year’s Third Annual Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.)
Reading it over, I decided that I still couldn’t frame this year’s story any better and so, rare as it is for me to repeat myself, let alone twice, I present this to my readers again knowing full well that many never read it, or for those who did, it is time to be afforded a reminder about the salient subject of cancer and the indomitable human spirit that continues to battle it, not to mention the place that sports has assumed in the ongoing universal endeavor to generate the resources needed to find a cure for this disease .
LOCH SHELDRAKE, NY—Nothing brings home the message of our mortality more than the dreaded diagnosis of cancer. Few people’s lives are left untouched by this modern day scourge that afflicts people young and old alike from every walk of life, striking family members and friends seemingly everywhere we turn.
And yet, even in the face of such a grim and daunting adversary, people find the will and the courage to battle back; to fight for their survival against the combined ravages of the illness and the bodily upheaval wrought by the chemotherapy and radiation most often used to combat it.
Those battles waged daily, yield countless uplifting stories of survivors who overcome the odds, as well as the heart-rending instances wherein noble souls eventually succumb.
But it is in those times when people are besieged by afflictions such as cancer, or ravaged by other disasters such as the 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami that beset Japan, that others will come forward to show their generosity to support one another in their time of greatest need.
In its unrelenting assault, cancer is a universal adversary against which the human spirit continues to apply its resolve to find a cure, and pending that, to deploy better tools for combating the disease and improving the survival rates of those beset by it. Such work is not only time-consuming. It is costly.
Since 1993, an alliance between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) has spawned a nationwide effort to marshal the resources provided by the popular sport as a fundraising tool to battle cancer.
Today, more than 2000 college and high school coaches are involved in the Coaches versus Cancer program which has raised nearly 50 million dollars to eliminate cancer as a life threatening disease.
The Local Effort
In 2010 two separate events were staged in Sullivan County to help raise money for the epic battle against this terrible affliction. In second of those initial CVC endeavors and the first one held at Sullivan County Community College, Liberty and Monticello’s boys teams went at it in the Second Annual Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic. Liberty prevailed 66-59 in that epic clash and a hefty sum of $1,060 dollars was raised by the event.
A month prior, in December 2009, Sullivan West girls basketball coach Patrick Donovan who had previously called Tri-Valley coach Andy Taggart, had made arrangements whereby the two decided that their upcoming game would be a fundraiser for the Catskill Regional Oncology Unit. Thus was born the “Pink Out” game and its mantra of “Battlin’ For A Cause.”
In that January 2011 clash at SCCC, Tri-Valley prevailed by the score of 37-20, but more importantly, the real winner was the fight against Cancer as a hearty sum was raised as the two rival communities forged a combined effort royale.
Donovan and Tri-Valley Coach John Tenbus who replaced the retiring Taggart had contacted then Liberty Athletic Director Jason Semo about adding their game and its community fundraising power to the Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic.
The result was inspiring. The 2011 event raised $3,205.41 for the Catskill Regional Oncology Unit as the throngs in the packed gym at Sullivan County Community College showed their remarkable generosity in these difficult economic times.
Fans were privy to some wonderful basketball and made aware of the promise that this year’s event would expand again.
In the 2011 CVC high school clashes, the Monticello boys held sway over Liberty by the score of 64-43, while the Tri-Valley Lady Bears dominated Sullivan West to the tune of 59-30. As it would turn out this year, the defending Tournament champions would repeat their feats of a year ago despite major changes in their casts.
On the docket this year was a junior varsity game between the Liberty and Monticello boys, won by the storming Monties 61-29, a varsity girls opener between Livingston Manor and Eldred girls in which the Lady Wildcats prevailed 48-22 behind the 18-point outpouring of Samantha Scott, and a pair of college game as the nightcap as the SCCC men’s and women’s teams took on the Borough of Manhattan Community College to add to the already thrilling girls and boys games that preceded it.
The Lady Generals prevailed 59-54 as Isis Alonso scored 17 points and pulled down 17 rebounds, while Luna Jefferson added 15 points and 13 rebounds. In the men’s nightcap, Pine Bush grad Cleanthony Early scored 21 points in the 80-50 Region XV win. Willie Williams added 18 points and 15 rebounds for the 23-2, 16-0 Region XV Generals who are ranked second in the nation.
Crowds were thinner than a year ago but the event still raised over $3,000 for the Catskill Regional Oncology Unit in the name of Cierra Boone, a young woman who lost herbrave battle against cancer last year. Her cousin Dante Agnew is a student at SCCC this year and the leading scorer on this year’s #1-ranked Generals team.
Monticello Uses A 20-2 First Quarter To Outlast Liberty
This year has seen its share of struggles for both Monticello and Liberty who came into this fray with just five and four wins respectively. Even so, both face crucial must-win league games on February 15 that could bring them sectional berths on their respective senior nights. Monticello hosts Goshen, while Liberty hosts O’Neill.
Both teams had played tough games the night prior to this year’s CVC clash and both had to use everything they had to survive for season-saving league victories. Monticello outlasted Port Jervis 47-45, while Liberty withstood a furious Sullivan West comeback bid to hold on for the 46-40 win. With Eddie Byrd’s ejection in that encounter via a pair of technical fouls, his absence would make things more trying for the Indians who dressed only eight players for the fray.
Monticello jumped out to a 20-2 lead in the first quarter getting six points apiece from Rob Riley and Sean Reuss and five from Anthony Gray that included a trey, to go along with a game-opening three from Ros Djonbalaj. A late bucket by Liberty’s D’angelo Burell avoided the shut out.
The Indians awoke with nine points in the second stanza four of which came from Joe Franke to go along with two apiece from Henry, Andrew Hersh and Taylor Vankeuren. The Monties countered with 12 of their own. A trey from Ben Kapito, four more points from Reuss, three from Riley and two from Naquan Holman gave the Panthers a 32-11 lead at the half.
Liberty continued to play hard and nearly matched the Monties’ effort in the third stanza as they scored 11 to Monticello’s 15. Henry led the way with five points in the quarter, Franke had three and Travis Beaupierre added two. Burrell provided one from the stripe.
Riley carried the load with nine after despite a scary moment wherein he went up for a dunk and got taken out by Vankeuren. The flagrant foul sent Riley to the line for extra attempts given the nature of the violation. “I thought my knee went out,” the stalwart senior would later declare. Gray had his second trey of the game.
Monticello now led 47-22 after three. Liberty erupted for 20 points in the final stanza as Henry poured in 11, Franke provided four and Marson Williams added a trey for the now 4-11 Indians. Henry had 17 points to lead the Indians, while Franke donated 11 to the cause.
Riley led the Monties with 18 with Reuss chipping in 16 including an impressive six-for-six from the stripe in the 65-42 win for the now 6-11 Monties.
Monticello Coach Chris Russo who had been shocked by his team’s poor, albeit winning effort against a diminished Port Jervis team the night before, came away from this game in a much better state of mind. “We shot the ball really well today which we haven’t done in awhile which was really good for us. We defended really well.
The game was different without Eddie in there but you’ve got to give those kids credit. They fought really hard. We had a great first quarter and it really set the tone for the rest of the game. Their kids battled. You know Mike (Salvia) does a great job with them and I’m proud that we were able to get a win. That’s two in a row as we get ready for Goshen on Wednesday. That’s a big one for us,” he noted.
Referencing the scary moment when Riley hit the deck, Russo agreed it was frightening. “Rob’s looking for a dunk and they don’t want to get dunked on. The kid just got a little bit much but fortunately Rob is all right and cooler head prevailed when all was said and done with it,” he averred.
“The event was great. It’s been great all day. The venue is awesome. Chris DePew and Kevin DeVantier and all the guys here at Sullivan do a great job and the event just gets bigger and bigger for us. Hopefully we’re raising a lot of money and I’m proud of my guys.
Salvia deflected any excuses for the loss including Byrd’s absence, fatigue etc. “We just came out flat in the first quarter. We just didn’t bring it and that was the difference in the game. They came out and made a lot of shots that we didn’t expect. They had some kids step up and hit some big time shots,” he noted.
“Our season is on the line on Wednesday versus O’Neill. Our kids understand that and if can bring the same effort we brought against Sullivan West and the latter part of this game we’ll be okay.”
Tenbus Sits His Sluggish Bears Early But Tri-Valley Goes On To Steamroll Young Sullivan West
It’s been a tempestuous week for Tri-Valley as the team suffered its first loss of the season in a home division clash to Tuxedo. The 52-46 defeat unveiled some chinks in the Lady Bears’ armor and had Tenbus looking forward to this game with Sullivan West as a place to put the machinery back in gear against the youngsters of Sullivan West.
It’s not a mystery that Coach Pat Donovan’s kids are learning the game on the fly. They have both talent and heart aplenty but they’ve got a lot to learn. Thus the 3-11 record coming in made the Lady Bulldogs a major underdog to the 12-1 Lady Bears.
Imagine the astonishment of both coaches and the throngs in the stands as Sullivan West battled the defending Class C champs nearly even in the first quarter and trailed by just two at 10-8 at the end of eight minutes.
Tenbus was fuming with his team’s clueless play as they seemed mystified by Sullivan West’s two-three zone, something they practice against constantly. Turnovers, poor execution and a spate of missed shots were part of the modus operandi, not to mention a pair of missed free throws from sophomore point guard Sabrena Smith, a less than scintillating reminder of T-V’s ongoing struggles from the stripe.
The only bright spot was junior Mareena DiMilia who scored eight of her team’s ten in the stanza. The other two points came from freshman Katlynn Greffrath. Sullivan West countered with a bucket apiece from juniors Katie Taylor and Erika Stauch to go along with ones provided by sophomores Jordan Parsons and Sydney Sipple.
Tenbus had seen enough and took his entire starting five out. “I told them they’d go back in when they were ready to play. I’d rather throw away a game than let that go on,” he would later say. His second team provided good energy and played tough defense. When Tenbus figured the message had registered he reinserted his starting quintet who came out and played like demons possessed.
The result was a 24-4 Tri-Valley second quarter barrage that limited the Dawg pups to two buckets by Taylor. With steals galore and easy transition buckets resulting from little or no pressure, T-V was in its element. DiMilia led the charge with eight more for her game-high total of 16. Sabrena Smith had seven and canned her one attempt from the line.
Greffrath, Caroline Martin, Erin Smith and Maria TerBush added a bucket apiece to the burgeoning lead as the Lady Bears took a 34-12 lead into the break.
The imbalance continued in the third quarter as Tri-Valley outscored Sullivan West 16-3 as Tenbus got his entire team into the act. Greffrath and Martin had four each and the Lady Bears got lone buckets from Sabrena Smith, Amanda TerBush, Keira McHugh and Nicole Bradley.
A bucket by Taylor and a lone free throw from Jordan Parsons were all the harried Ladies in white could manage.
The fourth quarter was more of the same as the SW learning curve continued. T-V outpaced SW 14-2. Krysten Herbert had the lone score for the now 3-12 Lady Bulldogs. To their credit, they never gave up as they wrestled in tie ups refusing to relent on yielding the rock. They dove for every loose ball and as Donovan would later note, “They play like that for 32 minutes.”
DiMilia led all scorers with 16, while Greffrath had 12 for 13-1 Tri-Valley. The Lady Bears face a tough week with a home and away pair of league games against Eldred and a visit to Fallsburg on February 16 for the Lady Comets senior night.
To preserve its current hold on the number two seed in the upcoming Class C Sectionals, the Lady Bears need to win all three games or else face the prospect of going on the road to start their title defense.
Taylor had eight of Sullivan West’s points in the 64-17 loss.
Tenbus talked about sitting his starters and how his second team came in and “gave us big minutes with a lot of energy which my first five weren’t doing to start. That’s great as far as the second group. I tried to explain to the girls that we havent’ won anything yet so this business of playing lackadaisically has to come to an end.”
Practicing non-stop against the two-three zone that Eldred will deploy, that Sullivan West uses and at times Fallsburg unveils, it was mystifying to see his starters struggle so. My pregame message tonight was to get back to playing basketball the way we play it, not the way anybody else does: run, pressure and look for the good shots. Once we got out of that funk in the beginning we were all right from then on,” he averred.
“We’re not good enough to take plays off for a whole quarter. If we that when sectionals come around that will kill us,” he concluded.
Donovan was proud of his team’s effort. “We played one of the better teams in the state and were within one point of them. They’re really good. Our girls have a lot to learn but they never quit,” he said proudly. Look for the ascension of Donovan’s troops in the years to come. What they’re suffering through now by way of growing pains in their first year of varsity experience will build a powerful foundation for the future.
Two games were all this harried writer/photographer could manage but my associate Nick Piatek shot pictures from the junior varsity game that preceded the varsity double header.
For albums of photos from both the JV and varsity games from this year’s Coaches Versus Cancer Classic, visit www.sportsinsights.smugmug.com