SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — To be selected as one of the 30 teams vying in the Section 9 basketball tournament is an honor unto itself. Every team enters the big dance hoping to win and advance toward the lofty goal of reaching the finals and winning a title. But all, save one in each of the five classes of schools, will fall short of the mark. Despite the disappointment that comes with the end of a season, athletes, coaches and the communities they represent have much to be proud of.
For number-three seeded Sullivan West, the valor of turning a prior 1-17 season into an 11-8 one, replete with a sectional home game, was a case in point. The Class B Bulldogs fought to the end but came up short by the score of 68-60 against number-six Spackenkill. Seniors John Masten and E.J. Franskevicz scored 15 and 13 respectively. Junior Sawyer Erlwein and sophomore Patrick Pierce each had 10. Franskevicz hit three of Sullivan West’s six treys on the night.
Meanwhile, the number-five seeded Liberty boys bested number-four O’Neill 62-53, as Eddie Byrd posted 27 to go along with 16 from Ryan Henry. Liberty advanced to play number-one Burke on February 29. Top-seeded Livingston Manor advanced to the Class D finals to face number-two John A. Coleman Catholic behind the Wildcats’ 84-47 win over Roscoe. In a rare Class C home and away two-game sequence, Tri-Valley and Fallsburg vied in quarterfinal clashes. In the day game, number four-seeded Fallsburg boys (14-5) defeated number-five seeded Tri-Valley 58-41 in the Comets’ gym. Braiden DeGraw led the way with 16 points as the Comets withstood early Tri-Valley fervor. The Comets held a slim 15-14 lead at the end of the first quarter but eventually their speed, unselfish play and deft shooting enabled them to garner the convincing win. Fallsburg travelled to number-one seeded Pine Plains on February 28, hoping to pull off what would amount to a huge upset over the defending Class C Champions. In the nightcap, Tri-Valley girls improved to 17-1 behind a 68-54 win over Fallsburg, which ended its season at 10-9. Caroline Martin and Erin Smith led the Lady Bears with 15 points apiece and despite the heroic efforts of Fallsburg senior Sheryl Pinder, who posted a game-high 29, the Lady Comets allowed a close game to get away from them in the third quarter as Tri-Valley outscored Fallsburg 22-14 to create a 13-point lead. Katlynn Greffrath’s three pointer with 3.1 seconds remaining in the third stanza would prove to be the dagger that sundered the proud Lady Comets. It was the swan song for Pinder and fellow seniors Shanice Mack, Celia Garcia, Samantha Rivera and Savonne Gillard. Tri-Valley advanced to a home semifinal versus number-three Tuxedo on February 28. The winner advanced to the finals to face John A. Coleman Catholic, which was Class D state champion a year ago. Tri-Valley is the defending Class C champion. In Class B girls play, number-five Liberty fell to number-four Onteora 61-34. Olivia Baum had 24 for the Lady Indians who ended their season at 8-11.
In the NYSPHSAA state wrestling tournament, Liberty junior Andy Martinez (182) finished sixth overall as he wrestled through a hurt shoulder. He was pinned by top-seeded Tony Lock of Pioneer in a semifinal bout. Martinez is the first Liberty wrestler to place at states since Tony Lewis in 1964. At the Section 9 Indoor Track State Qualifier, Sullivan County doubled up its state contenders from a year ago. Eldred will send an unprecedented three to compete at Cornell University on March 18. Sullivan West’s Rachel Deppa will make her third trip to states in the 1500 racewalk. She looks to better her 12th- and 10th-place finishes at states recorded over the past two years. Alex Campanella will vie in the 1600, Hunter Proscia will compete in the 3200 and Breanna Brucher goes for her winning leap of 10-0 in the pole vault. Tri-Valley’s Jimmy Bernstein won the mile at the state qualifier with a personal best time of 4:29.15, a full 3:29 faster than his prior best. He is the first T-V indoor state contender since Garrett Grey’s shot put acumen sent him to states in 2006. Danielle Darby qualified by winning the shot put and weight throw. The latter is not a state event but Darby’s throw of 47-6 was 13 inches farther than she posted a year ago. Garrett LaPolt will represent Monticello with his win in the shot put with a mark of 50-10.25, while Amanda Bertholf qualified in the pole vault with a leap of 9-3.
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