MCS boys defeat Eagles to become holiday tourney champs

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By John Bernhardt
“Live by the three, die by the three.” That’s a basketball lesson the Downsville Eagles may have learned Saturday night as they dropped a 50-46 decision to the visiting Margaretville Blue Devils in the championship game of their own tournament.
For the home team, basketball is a long-range shooting gallery. The Eagles realized a basketball oddity in the title game, scoring more three-point field goals, nine, than two-point baskets, seven. But the long-range fire power was not enough for the Eagles as Margaretville captured its second tournament championship of the young season.

Free throws lacking
One inherent problem for a long-range bombing basketball team is the lack of foul shots they are likely to take over the course of a game. Players launching shots from behind the arc are rarely fouled, perhaps once or twice per team a season. On the other hand, basketball combatants slashing and driving to the basket draw attention and fouls. The Downsville Tournament championship tilt was living proof of that Saturday night.
Ultimately, the title was won at the foul line. Content to launch missiles from behind the arc, the Eagles went to the charity line only five time, hitting all five shots. Margaretville’s more diverse offensive game earned 17 foul shots with the Blue Devils sinking 11, just enough to bring home the tournament hardware.
It was a game of peaks and valleys for both teams. The home team roared to an early 7-2 lead, only to see their guests recover to score the final 11 points of the opening quarter. Matt VanValkenburg, an all tournament selection, scored seven of his team-high 13 points during the Blue Devils’ run.
Downsville would bounce back, restarting their offense to draw within single point midway through the second frame, before a pair of James Warner foul shots, a Yair Sanchez three pointer, and one Dylan Shaffer shot from the charity stripe kept Margaretville in front, 22-17 at the half.
Downsville depended almost entirely on the three-point shot in the second half. The Eagles converted 10 field goals, eight from three-point land, with Billy Smith and Justin Baxter dropping in all the long-range volleys. Baxter hit one two-point attempt, with Anthony Skiolos the only other Eagle to score a field goal in the half.

Many contribute
Balanced Margaretville scoring was a telling contrast. Sanchez knocked down his second trey of the game and VanValkenburg and Shaffer both nailed a pair of field goals as the Blue Devils stretched their advantage to 35-26 after three periods.
Downsville nearly caught their guests midway through the final quarter with the Margaretville lead eroding to a single point. But in the end, a five-of-eight second half Blue Devil output from the foul line against not a single Downsville foul line conversion against just one attempt, were the difference makers.
All-tournament selection Dylan Shaffer scored 12, and tournament MVP, Kyle Short, netted nine for the victors.
Billy Smith and Justin Baxter both scored 19 for Downsville. Smith buried five three-point bombs and Baxter four.
Solid defensive play and explosive first half offensive production from Kyle Short were the catalysts that allowed Margaretville to reach the title game when the Blue Devils ousted Roscoe, 49-34, Friday night. Short took game-high scoring honors hitting 18 points, all of them in the first half. Short, a shooting guard, also led the Blue Devils by pulling eight rebounds off the backboards.
Short picked apart the Roscoe 2-3 zone netting 10 of Margaretville’s 12 first-period points as the Blue Devils built a five-point lead. Two of Short’s field goals were of the three-
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point variety.
Short added two more three-point scores and a field goal in the second half to go with eight Matt VanValkenburg points as the Blue Devils built a 31-20 lead.

Scoring slows down
The second half was all about defense as neither team could get its scoring machines out of low gear. Margaretville could only manage eight third-period tallies, three more than their opponents. The Delaware County Blue Devils bested the Sullivan County Blue Devils 10-9 down the home stretch to bring home the win.
Margaretville coach Jeremey Marks has to be pleased with the play of Dylan Shaffer in the tournament. Back-to-back solid outings by the senior forward bode well for the 2014 part of the schedule.
Yair Sanchez continues to provide valuable point production from off the bench for the Blue Devils. When left free, Sanchez provides the Margaretville offensive with some added long- range scoring artillery.
When they return to school after the holidays, Margaretville will get back to work quickly. The Blue Devils host Windham on Wednesday, Jan. 8, before traveling to Davenport for a critical Upper Division confrontation two nights later.