SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — A rare profusion of winter sun poured down through an azure blue sky, a hiatus between periods of snow, ice and gray gloom. Looking out my back window, I was taken by the glitter of ice crystals that adorned every limb. Seizing the moment that I knew would soon be gone, I grabbed my camera and went out to photograph this natural splendor.
It was winter in its most lovely attire. Soon the ice would melt, the sun would abate and the next phase of freezing drizzle would hold forth. But not for long, for soon in its place will emerge greenery and flowers to remind us about rebirth and renewal. Say what you will about winter, but it is majestic in its own right.
And in the world of high school sports, this past week evinced three manifestations of wintry magnificence.
Heading to the snowy slopes of Belleayre Mountain on February 5 afforded an opportunity to photograph Division I skiers rocketing down the Giant Slalom course. The Monticello girls won both the morning and afternoon races. Fallsburg/Tri-Valley placed second and third respectively. Monticello senior Haley Heins continued her mastery with two first-place finishes. Teammate Haley Ripa was second in the afternoon run and fourth in the morning encounter. Other top 10 finishers included Sarah Coney (F/TV), Riley Lindholm (M), Olivia Racette (L) and Mackenzie Mitchell (M).
In the boys races, it was Onteora that prevailed in the morning, followed by Monticello in the afternoon. Sullivan West senior Drew Billard took second in both races. Other top 10 finishers included Bailey Mitchell (M), Alec Wood (M), Zak Steingart (F/TV), Gene Doyle (L) and Pat Doyle (L). The Section 9 ski championships are slated for Hunter Mountain on February 12. Heins and Billard are the OCIAA Division I champions.
In wrestling, Liberty hosted the Section 9 Division II championships that saw Tri-Valley senior Kevin Palko (152) capture the school’s first-ever title. Liberty senior Andy Martinez (182) and Eldred’s Jesse Corcoran (220) were victorious as well. Nick Piatek’s glorious album of photos offers a visual anthem to this indoor manifestation of winter marvels. Speaking of marvelous winter showings, in girls basketball, Tri-Valley (10-5, 4-3 OCIAA) rebounded from back-to-back Division V losses to Chester and Tuxedo with an inspiring 74-46 win over Fallsburg that completed a season sweep of the talented Lady Comets and continued the Lady Bears’ year-to-year dominance of their neighboring rival. Fallsburg has yet to beat Tri-Valley during the reign of Comets’ coach Daniel Redmond. This game was far closer than the final score appeared and actually had Fallsburg within one point of their adversaries midway in the third quarter before the Lady Bears would use a 27-8 fourth quarter outburst to run away from the visitors, who had hoped to finally top the team they’d love most to beat. Junior Katlynn Greffrath led T-V with 24 points that include a quintet of treys. Junior Sabrena Smith posted her best game of the year at both ends of the floor. She and senior Nicole Bradley each contributed 14 points to the cause. Fallsburg 9-6 (1-6 OCIAA) was led by senior standout Nyasia Blakney, who poured in a game-high 26 points.
The latest winter storm caused the postponement of the Sullivan County BCANY Coaches vs. Cancer tournament, which will now be held on February 16 in a day-long cavalcade of boys and girls high school basketball. The college games will be held on February 17. For ongoing winter stories as well as archives of seasons past, visit www.sportsinsightsny.com . Photos can be found at www.sportsinsights.smugmug.com .