Host Blue Devils fall in first round of Booster Club tourney; Roxbury boys win on the road

By Julia Green
Roxbury 65, Gilboa 35 (Dec. 9)
“I thought we played well,” said Roxbury Head Coach Tom Faraci of his team’s convincing victory over Gilboa last Tuesday. “We came out with some energy and played some decent defense.”
The Rockets posted a 65-35 Delaware League victory over the host Wildcats, led by senior Ryan Skipper who tallied 29 points for RCS. DaVaun Morgan added 13 points and Tim Douglas tallied 12.
Roxbury’s scoring was steady, with the Rockets tallying 14 points in the first quarter and 19 in the second to go into halftime with a 33-18 lead. Despite those figures, however, Faraci said that scoring isn’t necessarily his team’s strongest suit.
“I think we could probably say that defense is an area where we’re playing well,” he said, “and I think we’re doing a pretty good job of rebounding, and hopefully that continues to get a little bit better. We feel that hopefully our guys continue to feel that that’s an important area.”
Faraci acknowledged the probability that defense and rebounding are the factors winning games for the Rockets.
“It’s certainly helping,” he said. “The shooting percentage is not necessarily what’s getting it done.”
In addition to balanced scoring throughout the duration of the game, the Rockets also owned a better than 50 percent average from the free throw line, converting on eight of 15 trips to the line, and outscoring the Wildcats 19-8 in the second quarter to widen the gap going into the half.
“We keep saying that we’re going to need to get better, and I think we’re seeing that every day,” Faraci said. “We’ve got some guys that are coming off the JV or guys that came off the bench last year that are starters – every game I think we see a little progression, and we get a little better. We feel like we’re going in the right direction.”
 
Margaretville 19, Stamford 40 (Dec. 9)
As the Stamford defense collapsed around Margaretville center Brian Faulkner, the Blue Devils struggled to find someone else to step up to the basket. Despite that pressure, however, Faulkner, was still one of two players leading the Blue Devils’ offense, tallying six points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Margaretville’s Marcus Moore also tallied six points for the Blue Devils, including the team’s only three-point field goal of the game.
“I thought our defense was pretty good, holding Stamford to 40 points but we didn’t shoot the ball well, had too many turnovers, and never really got in the flow offensively,” said MCS Head Coach Jeremey Marks. “I liked our effort, especially on defense, but we didn’t execute any part of our offense.”
The Blue Devils struggled to find the basket at all in the first half, tallying a mere two points in the first quarter and two more in the second.
They fought back in the third, however, sinking 11 points to Stamford’s 10, but were unable to keep the momentum flowing in the final quarter, when they were held to just four points.
“They collapsed on Brian and when teams do that, Brian has to find other ways to get the ball, whether it be grabbing some offensive rebounds or being more active on the paint,” Marks said. “But by the same token our other guys need to step up offensively, not settle for jump shots, and take the ball to the basket more.”
 
Andes 44, Downsville 41 (Dec. 9)
The Andes Mountaineers persevered in a close Mountain Division showdown when they traveled to Downsville to face the Eagles last Tuesday. The Mountaineers held on to win 44-41 despite seeing a 12-point lead whittled down to a one-point advantage in the third quarter, at which point junior Josh Bonifacic made both ends of a one-and-one to give the Mountaineers a little breathing room.
“We played exceptionally well in the first half of the game,” said Andes Head Coach John Bernhardt. “One of my big concerns was how we would handle their full-court pressure because they are noted for their press, and we handled it really well. That was one of the reasons we pulled out to a first-half lead: we were able to score off their press. That was a really positive thing.”
Andes held a 24-15 halftime lead, but allowed Downsville to score 14 points in the third quarter to close the gap significantly; however, the Eagles never managed to pull within closer than three points in the final quarter.
“Rebounding is still an issue, especially in the second half,” Bernhardt said. “We have tended to stop and watch in the second half, willing it in instead of putting it in. That’s a big consideration: we’ve got to play the whole game.”
The Mountaineers were led by point guard Cody Ruff, who tallied 13 points. Corey Barrett added 11, eight of which came in the second half. Bonifacic had ten rebounds to lead the Mountaineers while Barrett added eight rebounds and four steals.
Ruff was six for nine from the floor and Barrett was five for 11.
Despite Downsville’s only sinking 14 field goals to Andes’ 17, the Eagles almost made up the difference on foul shooting, hitting 13 of 19 from the line.
“It was a big win for us,” Bernhardt said. “To win on the road in a place where… well, I don’t know when we’ve won there last. That in itself was kind of a momentous thing for us.”
 
Andes 57, Franklin 21 (Dec. 13)
The Andes boys carried their momentum from the win at Downsville over to the Margaretville Booster Club Tournament last weekend, where they posted a convincing 57-21 victory over the Purple Devils from Franklin Central School.
“I thought we passed the ball unselfishly,” Bernhardt said. “Cody [Ruff] had eight assists and Eric Reed had six, and that was indicative of how the ball was moving for us. They were finding people.”
The Mountaineers improved their rebounding tenacity Saturday night, led by Justin Weaver with nine boards and eight apiece for Barrett and Bonifacic. Sage Beemer added six.
Bernhardt reiterated his squad’s timing issues as an ongoing challenge for the young team, emphasizing that making sure all five players on the floor are synchronized would go a long way in adding to Andes’ success rate.
“I thought our practice on Friday was one of our more intense, mentally focused practices,” he said. “If they could replicate that regularly, we’d improve pretty quickly, but that’s a big ‘if.’”
With Saturday’s win, the Mountaineers advanced to the championship game of the MCS Tournament, where they will face the Wildcats of Gilboa. The game is scheduled for this Saturday at 7 p.m.
 
Gilboa 31, Margaretville 26 (Dec. 13)
The Gilboa Wildcats advanced to the MCS Booster Club Tournament championship game following a victory over the host Blue Devils in the opening round of competition on Saturday.
It all came down to the buzzer twice during the Delaware League match-up, in which the Blue Devils dropped a tough 31-26 decision to the visiting Wildcats in a game which saw Margaretville tally 34 turnovers and only 24 team rebounds.
“When you turn the ball over 34 times, you wouldn’t expect to have a shot to win the game, but our defense was pretty good at creating some turnovers of our own,” Marks said. “But you can’t turn it over 34 times. We needed to be stronger with the ball. And to give credit to Gilboa, they played good defense and had a lot to do with us turning it over that many times.”
The Blue Devil offense was able to create opportunities once they got into the half-court and ran a play, but ultimately was plagued by those turnovers.
Steve Amundsen hit a three-pointer toward the end of the first half to give the Blue Devils a 13-10 lead, but they were unable to ride the lead into halftime when Gilboa’s Scott Haskin hit a three-point field goal at the buzzer to tie the game at 13.
“That was a big shot,” Marks said. “I think our defense didn’t execute knowing where he was, and we gave him too open of a look at the top of the key. But you never want to give up a three at the end of the half like that, right at the buzzer, especially when you have an opportunity to go into halftime with a lead.”
Saturday marked Amundsen’s first time on the court, following a broken fibula suffered during the Margaretville boys’ Section IV soccer championship in November.
“We’re glad to have him back,” Marks said. “He was a spark off the bench and he’s not even 100 percent – he’s just one of those heart and soul kids that just lays it all out there for you, and I think our team responded to him as well.”
The Wildcats were first on the board in the second half, but Margareville’s Marcus Moore answered immediately with a three-pointer to give the Blue Devils a 16-15 lead. That play set the tone for the remainder of the second half, in which the two teams were neck and neck right down to the wire, when it was tied at 26 apiece with a minute to go in regulation.
Haskin dealt a second blow to the Blue Devils, sinking another three with 21 seconds remaining.
A travel violation called on Margaretville’s Mitch VanKeuren with less than 10 seconds on the clock gave the ball back to the Wildcats, and a quick foul by the Blue Devils sent Gilboa to the free throw line, where the Wildcats’ lead grew to five points following two successful free throws.
“Give Haskin credit, he hit two big shots,” Marks said. “I thought our defense could have done a better job recognizing where he was, being their best shooter, and we had a couple breakdowns and they took advantage of them and made us pay.
“I tell the team all the time that the tight games in basketball come down to one or two possessions toward the end of the game and a lot of times the team that scores next wins. We had some opportunities in those last few minutes to put some points on the board and didn’t.”
Brian Faulkner led the Blue Devils with nine points.
Margaretville will face Franklin in the consolation game of the MCS Booster Club Tournament at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Roxbury 59, Milford 37 (Dec. 15)
Once again it was Ryan Skipper leading the charge as the Roxbury Rockets cruised to a 59-37 victory at Milford on Monday night. Skipper tallied 20 points for the visiting Rockets and DaVaun Morgan added 15, while Garrett Hall tallied nine and Tim Douglas contributed seven.
Faraci once again credited his team’s defense as key in the Rockets’ third straight win, with which they move to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the league.
“Brian Edelstein is a pretty decent shooter and he hurt us early there,” Faraci said. “He was getting some good looks, but I think we did a much better job defensively against them.”
Edelstein tallied four buckets and a three-pointer to lead the Wildcats with 11 points.
The Rockets went into halftime with a 28-19 lead, which was due in large part to Roxbury’s efforts toward the end of the first half.
“We kind of opened it up in the last two or three minutes,” Faraci said. “It was closer in second quarter, but we kind of opened it up and got some steals – some good things happened before halftime.”
The Rockets also posted an impressive third quarter, with a 16-8 run that widened their lead to 44-27. Also key for the defending sectional champs was their ability to hit the boards.
“It was definitely boards tonight,” Faraci said. “We did a good job on the boards and got a lot of second opportunities.”

Second Annual MCS Booster Club Tournament - photo by Julia GreenSecond Annual MCS Booster Club Tournament - photo by Julia Green