Blue Devils win tournament championship
By John Bernhardt
The first three minutes of the final quarter in Saturday’s MCS Booster Club Boys’ Varsity Basketball Tournament demonstrated the poise the host team showed in securing the title. Trailing 39-25 late in the third quarter, Gilboa went on a 10-2 run to whittle the Margaretville advantage to six at 41-35. The Wildcats’ surge included a long range, three-point Zac Perry prayer that banked off the backboard and through the nets, just beating the third-quarter horn, and a no-look pass from Tyler Latta to Hunter Grace for a layup to start the final period.
The stage was set for the Blue Devils to come unglued, but Margaretville never faltered. On the next three possessions the Blue Devils executed perfectly; a backdoor running layup attempt, quick ball movement around the perimeter resulting in a mid-range jump shot, and dribble penetration, and a kick-out for a wide open three, but the ball simply would not fall. And, still no panic.
Instead, the Blue Devils’ resolve and defense stiffened. Battling fiercely on the opposite end of the court, Margaretville allowed its opponent only one shot at the basket in their next five trips down the floor. Matt VanValkenburg picked off a pass and hit Cooper Reither streaking ahead of the crowd to the basket.
Key foul shots
Reither was fouled and buried both shots to end the scoring drought. Mitch Hull was fouled in the backcourt and downed both ends of a one-and-one, and a Reither to Kyle Short pass produced another layup, stretching the Blue Devils’ lead to 47-35.
Gilboa’s last gambit was to stop the clock by fouling and sending the Blue Devils to the line. Six consecutive Kyle Short swishes from the charity stripe sealed the deal with Margaretville taking the title, 55-40.
Margaretville used a scoring surge and some stingy defense early in the second quarter to force Gilboa to play catch up the rest of the night. When Christian Cooper hit one of two fouls shots to start the period, Gilboa trailed only 13-11. But, when Kyle Short found Ryan Sanford racing ahead at the front of a fast break, the Blue Devils started a 13-point run that would separate the foes. VanValkenburg drove down the right side of the lane and kicked a pass to Reither for a three-point goal. Mitch Hull and Sanford recorded back-to-back put-back scores.
VanValkenburg picked a Wildcat’s pocket and found Sanford streaking ahead of the crowd for another layup, and Short turned a steal into a Hull layup before Gilboa would score.
Balanced scoring carried the Margaretville offense. Kyle Short had 15 points to lead all scorers. Mitch Hull added 13 points while Ryan Sanford pitched in 12 and Cooper Reither 10.
The Blue Devils outpaced Roscoe 63-31 in opening round play. Margaretville edged Gilboa 44-42 on the road in Delaware League action earlier in the week.
Mitch Hull and Cooper Reither represented Margaretville on the All-Tournament Team. Ryan Sanford was the MVP.