Roscoe ends sectional bid for Margaretville girls; Roxbury, Hunter boys to meet for title
By John Bernhardt
With their backs to the wall, the Margaretville girls‚Äô basketball season was on the line. The Lady Blue Devils needed a three-game sweep during the final week of the season to qualify for the Section IV Playoffs. After winning back-to-back Delaware League contests over Stamford and Windham, a late Blue Devil rally came up short, ending their season on the short side of a 47-43 decision against Roscoe on Saturday night.
Foul troubles proved to be Margaretville‚Äôs undoing on their home court. The Blue Devils trailed by a point, 13-12, at the quarter break in the pivotal contest, but warning signs were flashing. Point guard Erica Faulkner and center Brandi Balcom were both in foul trouble and saw limited action during the second frame. Roscoe capitalized by limiting their hosts to only five of six foul shots in the period and carrying a, 26-17, lead into the half.
Roscoe added three more points to their advantage during a high-scoring third period. Erica Faulkner and Michelle O‚ÄôReilly teamed for 10 of Margaretville‚Äôs 14 points, but Faulkner was lost to fouls. Roscoe led 43-31 with only eight minutes left to play.
Margaretville‚Äôs defense stiffened, and the Blue Devils rallied. The home team ran off 11- straight points and with two minutes to play trailed by only a point, 43-42. Roscoe used four foul shots, two by Molly Kruit, to snuff out the comeback, ending Margaretville‚Äôs season four points short of the overall .500 record required of their moving forward into Section IV play. The Blue Devils finished at the .500 mark in Delaware League competition at 7-7.
Earlier in the week, Margaretville outlasted Stamford, 51-46, on Stamford‚Äôs home court. The game held a post-season flavor with both teams needing a victory in their hunt to reach the post season. The Blue Devils edged ahead, 13-9, in the early going and led 25-21 by the half. Margaretville added two more points to their margin in the third period before a wild, foul filled finale.
Casey Hubbell and Brandi Balcom both scored six points down the stretch, but Stamford was charging. Two critical Ashley O‚ÄôReilly foul shots in the closing seconds helped the Blue Devils hold off the rally to keep their playoff dream alive.
Balcom scored 12 points to lead the Blue Devils‚Äô attack. Hubbell, Erica Faulkner and Jessica Srp all had nine points for the winners.
The Lady Blue Devils set up the final-game excitement by beating Windham, 36-27, to close out their Delaware League season Thursday night. A 13-3 first quarter surge set the tone for the home team. The Blue Devils led 22-8 by the half, 28-12 at the three-quarter break, and coasted home.
Margaretville coach Kyle Holden was pleased with his team‚Äôs growth throughout the season. Holden‚Äôs charges started slowly by dropping their first three games of the season, but started to gel over the winter holiday. ‚ÄúWe came together nicely in the second half and were very competitive,‚Äù noted the Blue Devils‚Äô coach.
Holden loses only three seniors and sees a brighter future next year. Jessica Srp, Emily Freidman and Ashley O‚ÄôReilly all played their final game for Margaretville on Saturday.
Roxbury, Hunter Meet for title
Roxbury and Hunter-Tannersville share common characteristics as they prepare for Friday‚Äôs Crossover Championship at SUNY Delhi. Both teams are on a roll, each suffering only one Delaware League loss during the regular season. Both teams showcase explosive offensive stars and pesky, opportunistic defensive play. And, both teams are known for running off explosive offensive surges that can turn around the complexion of a contest.
Any discussion of H-T starts with senior Greg Mudge. A literal offensive machine, Mudge averages nearly 25 points and dishes out almost seven assists per game. A wide array of offensive moves makes Mudge one of the Delaware League‚Äôs all-time most potent offensive threats.
Roxbury coach Tom Faraci understands that no one has had an answer to slow down Mudge‚Äôs productivity all season long. ‚ÄúH-T likes to get up and down the floor quickly. When forced to play a half-court game, it‚Äôs no secret Mudge will get a lot of touches. Everyone wants to stop Greg. That‚Äôs all well and good. But, to be successful, we need to play well on some of their other guys as well.‚Äù
Those other guys include H-T‚Äôs senior Dan Legg. Legg has contributed steady offensive play to the Wildcats all season long. Faraci praises the contributions of point guard Sal Rizzo.
Rebounding will be critical Friday night noted Faraci. ‚ÄúThey hammer the boards well. We have to keep them off the boards and can‚Äôt allow them second scoring chances,‚Äù emphasized Faraci. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs a key for us.‚Äù
The Roxbury coach hopes his Rockets can counter Mudge with offensive balance. DaVaun Morgan provides Roxbury with ‚Äúgo-to‚Äù potential. The Rocket sophomore has logged several explosive offensive outings and averages over 17 points a game.
But, Roxbury can generate offensive in several places. Junior shooting guard Ryan Skipper is lightning fast going to the basket and can bury the three-point goal. Skipper has big-game potential, scoring over 13 points a game. Forwards Steven Hubbard and Andrew Camillone have double-digit scoring ability and both add about eight points a night to the Rockets‚Äô total. Noted for his unselfish play and play calling ability, Lucas Brewer brings good outside range and strong penetration moves to the basket to the Rocket offense.
Faraci has counted on senior Ted Huggins and junior Tim Wilson to provide muscle around the basket from off the bench. Huggins and Wilson give the Rockets the added depth that can make a difference in championship play.
Three factors should help shape Roxbury‚Äôs success on Friday. To compete for the title, Faraci says his team must play with intensity. Roxbury floundered at the start of the season, taking three games to discover the passion they have used to run together 16-consecutive wins. Faraci knows his team‚Äôs chances start with the fire needed to get it done in the title game.
Equally important is Roxbury‚Äôs unselfishness. Everyone pitches in when Roxbury gets their offense running on all cylinders. Finally, Faraci understands his team must play tough defense to get the job done. Many times, Rocket offensive surges start with strategic defensive play. The Rockets have the speed and quickness to defend at every level of the floor. Finally, Faraci is hoping the Rockets can jump out to a good start Friday. ‚ÄúComing out of the gates strong would really help,‚Äù hoped the Rockets coach. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m.