SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY—This winter the weather has unleashed a stultifying array of extremes, leaving people to wonder what is coming next. In high school basketball there can also be a great unpredictability of outcomes from game to game or season to season. That said, there is nonetheless a predictable constancy in the sport and it goes like this: great teams will coalesce, work hard and find a way to win. And as is the case each year by this point in the season, the elite teams are making their presence felt.
First and foremost among Sullivan County teams are the 7-0 (1-0 OCIAA) Tri-Valley Lady Bears. With their dominating 62-35 win over Chester on January 10 in their first league game of the season, Tri-Valley now sits alone atop Division V, as rivals Chester, Tuxedo and Seward already have one league loss apiece. Tri-Valley lost to Chester three times last season, including a season-ending devastating overtime loss in the Section IX Class C semifinals as they were slain by then sophomore Kathryn Jankalunas’ three-pointer. But in its first clash of this season Tri-Valley turned the tables on its nemesis in commanding fashion. Propelled by senior guard Katlynn Greffrath’s 22 points and abetted by 11 points from junior Caroline Martin and 10 from senior Sabrena Smith, Tri-Valley, now coached by Jason Closs, notched the key league in a season already made notable by victories over Class AA Minisink Valley and Middletown. For more on the tale of the iconic clash with Chester, read “On A Mission,” on www.sportsinsightsny.com . For the Sullivan West boys, four straight losses to start their season seemed foreboding indeed, but the Bulldogs appeared to be finding their bark as they vanquished Division IV rival Liberty 66-54. The final score in no way reflects the Westies’ complete dominance of the normally competitive Indians. The Dawgs made it two victories in a row with a 63-51 win over Oxford in the Walton Tournament Consolation game. Looking to continue their northerly journey, Sullivan West hosted talented Class D Eldred on January 13 but came up short 60-50 as a furious late rally stalled that had slashed a one-time 17-point Eldred lead to six with 3:01 remaining. The Yellow Jackets responded by marshaling eight straight points to widen the gulf before Sullivan West could score again. By then the damage was irrevocable. Led by senior guard Bray Curreri’s 20 points, along with 15 from Dave Powers and 11 from Jake Haller, Eldred used an effective two-three zone, its height and great wingspan to stymie Sullivan West from mounting a consistent offensive surge. The Bulldogs did have a great third quarter as they held Eldred to a mere five points while scoring 10 of their own. Sullivan West was led by senior Chance Bibbo, who netted 18. Junior Mark Castro had 15 points. Sullivan West fell to 2-5. The Bulldogs looked to avenge a season opening lopsided loss to Monticello as they hosted the Monties on January 15. On January 17 they will face Fallsburg in a key league matchup. They are currently 1-1 in the league. For its part, Eldred improved to 4-2. Thus far, the feisty Yellow Jackets have marshaled wins over Tuxedo, Roscoe, and Family School. Their only losses came against Class C leader Seward and Class A Port Jervis. For albums of photos, visit www.sportsinsights.smugmug.com .