LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — Forget the cold of winter—because from now until the Ides of March it’s all about the heat in high school gyms, as basketball fires up countless zealots of the rock. While it’s true that every sport has its own unique allure, none surpasses basketball for its concentrated indoor intensity.
Tournament play and non-league games are first on the docket.
On November 30, the season got underway as the Eldred Lady Yellow Jackets visited the Sullivan West Lady Bulldogs for the opening round of the Chester Hambletonian Classic Tournament. For Sullivan West coach Pat Donovan and Eldred coach Teresa Colvin, who has stepped up from her prior junior varsity mentorship, this was to be a good first barometer of where their teams were, following just a couple of weeks of practice. The Lady Westies looked to build on their 2011-12 season of early learning that netted just three wins against 15 losses. Eldred’s mark of 5-13 wasn’t much better, but this year both teams return a number of veterans. Sullivan West returns juniors Sydney Sipple, Krysten Herbert, Marianne Durkin, Hayley Puerschner and sophomore Carly Grishaber. Filling out the small seven-member squad are newcomers junior Kelsey Brockner and freshman Elaine Durkin. Eldred, which has dropped down to Class D, returns seniors Kayla Kelly (out for a few weeks following surgery), Erin Angus and Abigail Ellert. This year, the Lady Yellowjackets also feature junior Jessica Schips, who led all scorers with 17 points in Eldred’s 48-34 season-opening win over Sullivan West, Also on board are juniors Samantha Banghart, Nicole Elvin, Hannah Bisland, Rebecca Morgan and sophomore Julia Wilk. Stephanie Lee is a senior, who is new to the squad as well.
Eldred used an 8-0 run at the end of the first quarter to take a 16-9 lead after one period. And they’d never trail again. Sydney Sipple led the Lady Bulldogs with 13 points. Wilk added 10 points for Eldred and Angus had nine in the win. Eldred will play Chester at 3 p.m. on December 8 in the title game of the Hambletonian Classic Tourney. Sullivan West will play Fallsburg in the consolation game at 10 a.m. Defending Division V champion Tri-Valley will host Chapel Field on December 6.
This week marks the start of boys hoops action. In preparation for the coming frays, eight schools participated in a Basketball Coaches Association of New York (BCANY) scrimmage staged at Sullivan County Community College on December 1 organized by Monticello boys basketball coach Chris Russo. Teams included Monticello, Tri-Valley, Eldred, Livingston Manor, Ellenville, Saugerties, Wallkill and Washingtonville. Tri-Valley made sectionals last year but fell to Fallsburg in the quarterfinals. The Bears return Shatik Smith, James Pugh, Cody Exner, Rodney Jester, Devin Donnelly, Jesus Lozada and Gavin DuBois. New to coach Brian Tingley’s team are Tyler Greffrath, Dante Brock, Sam Tingley and Mike Post. The Bears open against host Walton at the Walton tourney on December 7.
Eldred failed to make sectionals last year and lost standouts PJ Collins and Brian Hazen to graduation. Returnees include Nick Dilles, Bray Curreri and Anthony Margarum. This year’s squad also includes Mike Donnelly, Connor Frasier and other players who have moved up from jayvee. Eldred opens at Port Jervis on December 4.
Livingston Manor made it to the state semi final at Glens Falls last year before losing to Section 10’s Madrid-Waddington. Coach Charlie Hicks saw nine of his 11 players graduate in June including his top eight. Returning players include Josh Janik and Jesse Jurgens. New to the squad this year are Danny Crespo, Mark Castro, David Dutcher, Dylan Taggart, Devin Jurgins, Tay Gibbons, Demetrius Brand and Terrence Lockhart. Manor will host Sullivan West for its season opener on December 10.
Sullivan West returns Patrick Pierce, Matt Cardona and Sawyer Erlwein. Newcomers to varsity include Kyle Manzi, Chance Bibbo, Ronj Padu, Brian Stauch and Owen Andrews. The Bulldogs open against Unatego at the Walton tourney on December 7. Monticello beat Saugerties in the opening round of the Class A Section IX tourney before losing to eventual champ Marlboro Iron Dukes who, in turn, lost to Tappan Zee in the state final. The Panthers return Rob Reilly and Naquan Holman, who will be senior captains. Also back are Joe Revell, Latique Liles, Brandon Walker and London Gandy. Newcomers include Dashawn Thompson, Chris Dardy, Shoshon, Drayton and David Watkins. The Panthers will compete at the annual Rotary Tip Off Tournament at Wallenpaupack on December 7.
For albums of photos from the Eldred-SW girls game and the BCANY scrimmage visit www.sportsinsights.smugmug.com .