Delaware League basketball races taking shape

By John Bernhardt
The winter of 2005-2006 was the last time the South Kortright boys’ basketball team didn’t win the Delaware League Mountain Division title. That winter, Andes edged Downsville to win the Delaware League crown in a four-team race that included Roxbury and SK. The Mountaineers suffered three DL losses, but balance across the league helped Andes win enough games to reach in the league Crossover Championship for the first time in school history.

The 2012-2013 Delaware League Mountain Division race has a retro feel, much like the dynamics that swept the league six winters ago. The pre-holiday portion of the schedule has ended with several surprises. Stamford is the only DL team still undefeated and Roxbury sits atop the Mountain Division at 3-1.

Perennial champion South Kortright has already suffered two league losses, one to Stamford and one to Roxbury, but don’t count the Rams out. SK has been playing better in recent contests, and with the Rams showing the same gritty style of play, especially on defense, as South Kortright title teams of the past. In addition, in Trevor Holdridge, South Kortright has the Delaware League’s leading scorer and a floor general.

The early season has been a roller-coaster ride for Roxbury. The Rockets stumbled badly with two opening season losses in the Milford Tournament, recovered to win three DL games in a row, including victories over Davenport and SK in the same week, and then dropped games to Windham and Stamford last week. The Rockets work hard defensively. Their challenge is to rebound, protect the basketball, turn fierce defensive play into offensive opportunity and find enough offense to stay in the race.

Stamford tops RCS
The Stamford loss ((49-32) Thursday was a non-league contest having no impact on the DL race. The Roxbury loss at Windham (31-25) is potentially devastating, a cross-division contest against a team their Mountain Division competitors are likely to defeat.

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises in the Mountain Division is the slow start of the Gilboa Wildcats, considered by many as a preseason favorite. The Wildcats are still searching for their first DL victory against three losses. Gilboa has a solid roster (Tyler Latta, Zack Perry, Hunter Grace, Christian Cooper) with everybody back from last year’s team. The Wildcats losses have come to Margaretville, SK, and Stamford, all teams expected to contend for the DL championship. That means Gilboa could still play a major role in the Mountain Division title chase.

Three teams are positioned to contend for the DL Upper Division crown. At the holiday break Stamford is the leader of the pack at 3-0. Senior guard Erik Ehrhart is the total package for Stamford, a point guard who plays pesky defense, penetrates well to the basket, and is deadly from the foul line. Mike Anderson has provided a long- range threat. Anderson scored 19 points, including five three-point goals, in the Indians’ non-league win over Roxbury.

Margaretville has added excitement and intrigue to this year’s Upper Division chase. After a season-opening loss in South Kortright, the Blue Devils have run off five straight victories that included the MCS Booster Club Tournament title

Strong attack
Kyle Short, Matt VanValkenburg, and Cooper Reither give Margaretville a three-headed guard attack with strong penetration to the hoop and great outside shooting touches. Mitch Hull returns for his third season as the Blue Devils center, and Ryan Sanford continues to impress from the strong forward slot.

Don’t forget about Hunter-Tannersville. The defending DL champions return, Zack Mudge one of the strongest guards in the league. Teaming with Dylan Legg, H-T has a guard tandem certain to keep them in the title hunt. H-T has one DL loss, dropping a recent contest in Margaretville.

Girls basketball
On the lady’s side, little appears to have changed in the DL title picture. For almost as long as anyone can remember, the Delaware League championship seems like the inherited right of one of two teams, South Kortright in the Mountain and Davenport in the Upper Division. Both schools field strong squads once again with the Rams and Wildcats off to fast starts, undefeated as the 2012 portion of the season draws to a close.

Several challengers
If SK is challenged, it will have to come from Gilboa or Roxbury. The Wildcats head into the holiday break with a 3-0 DL record tied with the Rams. Roxbury is 3-2 in Delaware League play their only losses to SK and Davenport. The Rockets turned on competitive outings against each of the DL powers.

Stamford appears to be Davenport’s biggest Upper Division challenge. The Indians have a 2-1 DL record heading into the mid-season break.
The Margaretville Blue Devils girls’ basketball team will be working on strategy to find their way to the foul line more often. For the second game in a row, the Blue Devils were badly outscored at the foul line when Margaretville feel to South Kortright, 53-35, last week.

The Blue Devils foul shooting disparity was not quite as jarring at a recent contest in Hunter when they didn’t find the foul line to take a charity shot. Even though, SK outscored their hosts 15-3 from the line last Monday night.

SK, playing without their senior forward Kayla Craft, was tested early in the contest with the two teams tied at the close of the first period, and the Blue Devils within striking distance deep into the third quarter. But, the Rams used 18 points by Miquela Hanselman, including eight-of-10 from the charity stripe, to pull away. Brianna Laing added 14 points and Tori Rockefeller contributes 11 for SK.

Sami Hunt paced Margaretville with 12 points.

If a basketball team was allowed one do-over game, the Roxbury boys’ basketball team would surely select last Tuesday’s game in Windham. With a 3-0 Delaware League start, the Rockets needed a victory over the Warriors to keep their forward momentum going. That was not the case when the home team upset the Rockets, 31-24 in a low scoring affair.

The Rockets carried a 16-14 lead into intermissions but could only manage eight second-half points in falling to the Warriors. The foul line proved decisive with Windham netting 11 of 20 charity shots, and Roxbury netting only four of 14.

Roxbury clung to a 21-20 lead entering the final period, but David Saunders and Jeremy Torres combined to score all 11 Windham points in the final frame. Roxbury was held to only three points in the decisive period.

Saunders, who pulled down 10 rebounds, scored a game-high 12 points, including four of four from the foul line in the final 90 seconds. Torres score all five of his points during the final eight minutes.

Spencer Hinkley had six points and Nick Hamil five to lead Roxbury.

The second half was not kind to the Rockets later in the week in Stamford when Roxbury dropped a 49-32 decision to the Indians. The Rockets trailed by five, 21-16, at the half but were outscored 28-17 in the final two periods.

A Stamford outside/inside offensive attack spelled the difference. Matt Anderson hit five, three-point shots scoring a game high 19 points. Greg Mattice scored 10 more around the basket.
Spencer Hinkley paced the Rockets with nine points, and Derek Cowan added eight.