Andes boys advance to Section IV semifinal; Roxbury boys fall in opening round
By Julia Green
Andes 45, Cherry Valley 37
Mighty Ducks? Try Mighty Mountaineers.
The Andes Mountaineers advanced to the semifinal match of the Section IV Class D boys’ basketball tournament following a 45-37 victory over the host Patriots of Cherry Valley-Springfield on Monday night. The victory signaled the first trip to the semifinal for the 12th-seeded Mountaineers since 1989, according to Head Coach John Bernhardt.
“Andes has a rich tradition in sectional basketball,” he said. “They have been to the sectional finals 11 times in school history, but not since 1989 have they been to the semifinals. So it’s been a long dry spell of getting there.”
The Andes boys advanced to the quarterfinals following a 52-40 win over the host Wildcats of Gilboa last Saturday. Reed had 30 points for the Mountaineers, who scored first and never trailed.
The Mountaineers were led once again by Eric Reed on Monday, who tallied 24 points and five steals; 12 of Reed’s points came from 3-pointers. Josh Bonifacic tallied seven points, 10 rebounds, three assists and five steals and Cody Ruff added four points and five assists.
“We’re just distributing the ball much better,” Bernhardt said. “Early in the year, everything kind of seemed forced offensively. [Eric’s] doing so well at the foul line; he was 8-for-8 last night and 9-for-11 in Gilboa, so he’s 17-for-19 from the foul line in these two sectional games. When you’re getting close to 10 points at the line, it makes a difference in your point total. The big thing is, he’s stepped up there to the line and made them; he’s an 80 percent foul shooter on the year, so that’s been huge.”
Also key to the Mountaineers’ success, Bernhardt said, are the factors that don’t show up in box scores. Russell Koronowki tallied 11 rebounds against Gilboa and gave a strong defensive showing against CV-S; Peter Fabrykiewicz, who just returned from injury, saw minutes in the fourth quarter and shut down one of Cherry Valley’s key rebounders; Sage Beemer had six rebounds and five deflections.
“Those things are huge,” Bernhardt said. “If we don’t get them, we don’t win.”
Andes (11-9) jumped out to an early 10-point lead Monday, outscoring the Patriots 16-6 in the opening quarter and stretching the lead as wide as 22-8 in the opening minutes of the second quarter. Cherry Valley battled back, however, outscoring Andes 6-3 down the stretch as the Mountaineers fought foul trouble; despite a 10-9 scoring advantage in the Patriots’ favor, Andes took a nine-point lead into halftime.
“That was huge,” Bernhardt said of the halftime lead. “I thought if we could get ahead early it would be a factor, and it was. It just keeps them pressing. It keeps them scrambling to get back in.”
Bernhardt also said that one of the omens his team would persevere also came from Reed’s shooting.
“Our lead was down to five with under three minutes left, and we stole the ball and got it to Eric, and of course we’d been trying to shave clock, and we could just see he was going to unload, so Dave [Ruff] and I were yelling from the bench,” he said. “And he let ‘er rip and… swish. That was a huge play because it pushed us from five to eight; if he had missed that shot and they had come down and scored, the whole complexion of the game changes.”
The Mountaineers advanced to the semifinal match against Davenport in Oneonta last night; no result was available at press time. A match-up between the two teams earlier in the season resulted in a 49-38 win by the Wildcats.
“We know that they are a very good basketball team,” Bernhardt said Tuesday morning. “We have to play pretty close to script if we want a chance to beat those guys, but we’re going into the game to win. We’re not just going in to show up. So we’ll see what happens.”
One factor will undoubtedly be rest time: while Davenport has been off since Saturday, the Andes boys will play back-to-back, thanks to the havoc wreaked on the schedule by winter weather.
“It’ll have an impact,” Bernhardt acknowledged. “They’re very well-rested and we’re not, but at this stage we’ve got to be bigger than all that. We’ve got to be so excited that we’re there that we don’t worry about that stuff. At this stage, it’s mental. If we let that stuff get us, it’s a mental thing. We’ve just got to play bigger than that.”
Adding significance to the Andes boys’ run, as if there weren’t enough already, is the very real possibility – and even probability – that this could be the school’s last year fielding a boys’ basketball team. Bernhardt said Tuesday that, due to low numbers, a committee is in the process of looking into merging the boys’ athletic programs with another area school.
“They’re in the process of trying to plan forward,” he said. “Which makes this run in sectionals all the more sweeter. This is a really nice thing to happen, to have us playing well in the sectionals and upsetting two much higher-seeded teams, when it looks like it could be our last season – at least for a while, and possibly forever.”
Roxbury 36, South Kortright 50
The season came to an end for the Roxbury boys on Saturday, when they dropped a tough 59-36 quarterfinal loss to the defending Class D champion Rams of South Kortright in South Kortright.
The Rams jumped out to an early lead, outscoring the Rockets 19-6 and receiving 14 points – including three 3-pointers – from Rashawn Herrington. The Rockets battled back in the second quarter, tallying 10 points to the Rams’ 14 to keep South Kortright within 10 points going into halftime.
A stingy Rams defense limited Roxbury’s go-to senior DaVaun Morgan to seven points, but Dakota Caronia stepped up to lead the Rockets with 10 points and Kyle Ciaravino added nine for Roxbury.
The Rockets, who entered the sectional tournament seeded seventh, finish the season 12-7. They will lose seniors Morgan, David Clark and Andy Merwin to graduation.