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December 02, 2016
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Opening salvos

Fallsburg is seen by many as the team to beat in Class C this year as it returns its entire cast. Here Braiden DeGraw cans a three-pointer, part of his 27-point output against Chester in the Hambletonian Classic Tournament. Fallsburg won 61-37 and faces Sullivan West in the title game on December 10.

ORANGE COUNTY, NY — And so it begins, that zany, intense time when the rock rules in gyms across the region in the din of deafening cheers and chants. The subject, for those of you who haven’t gleaned it yet, is high school basketball, second to none in the frenzy it engenders on a near-nightly basis.

Indeed, those long-quiet hounds of the hardwood have now returned and will be with us through mid-March, when the final buzzer sounds in the last Federation Game, a week after the NYSPHSAA state championships at Glens Falls. What ends there begins here, as teams begin tournament play as a preamble to the daunting league and sectional games that will determine local and regional victors.

This past week, a trio of basketball tournaments featured the debut of the 2011-12 versions of teams from Sullivan West, Fallsburg, Liberty and Eldred. Fallsburg’s boys lost their opener to the Walton Warriors 51-49 but came back to edge Sullivan West 61-57 in the consolation game. The Westies lost 55-35 to Unatego in the opener and looked to the subsequent Chester Tournament to record their first win of the season, one that would match their win total for 2010-11. They got that with a 50-34 win over Chapel Field in the Sixth Annual Chester Hambletonian Classic. E.J. Franskevicz was the leading scorer with 12. The Bulldogs advance to play Fallsburg on December 10. Class B Sullivan West and Class C Fallsburg will then part ways for the remainder of this season. Fallsburg handily disposed of league rival Chester in the opening round by the score of 61-37. Braiden DeGraw led the charge with 27 points, while Michael Robinson poured in 15. Earlier in the day in girls action, Eldred defeated Sullivan West 32-22 in the opener and Chester thumped Fallsburg 42-23 in the nightcap. That sets up a consolation game between Fallsburg and Sullivan West on December 10, while Chester will host Eldred in the title clash. Fallsburg was coming off a 1-1 stint at the Walton Tourney, which they finished with a resounding 53-33 win over Downsville, in which senior Sheryl Pinder led all scorers with 32 points that included eight three-pointers. Pinder struggled against Chester though and only netted seven. The game counted as a league match up, since Chapel Field didn’t field a girls team this season and Fallsburg agreed to make this game Chester’s home game of their regular season two-game series.

Meanwhile over at S.S Seward, the Spartan Invitational Tournament was revealing some great basketball as James I. O’Neill profited on missed late free throws by the then-winning Spartans to ice a dramatic 55-54 win in the first semifinal. Millbrook thrashed Liberty 58-31 in the other semifinal. That set up a consolation game tilt between Seward and Liberty, which the Spartans won by the score of 55-39, paced by Kevin Smith’s 19 and Anthony Bailey’s 18 points. Class C Millbrook won the championship game as it defeated Class B O’Neill.

Liberty’s 0-2 start to the season was not what first-year coach Mike Salvia had hoped for but an upcoming two-week hiatus before the Indians play Port Jervis will give the team time to resolve issues with its zone offense and rebounding. Eddie Byrd was named to the All-Tournament team. He scored 19 against Millbrook and 14 against Seward. Liberty’s girls (1-1) defeated S.S. Seward 28-23 in the opening round but lost to Goshen in the title game. Hardwood action resumes on December 9 and 10 as Monticello looks to defend its two-year run as champions of the Hawley Tip Off Tournament at Wallenpaupack. They’ll have to do it without the seniors who carried last year’s team all the way to the Section 9 Class A semifinals where they lost a heartbreaker to Cornwall. The Tri-Valley boys will host Deposit for their season opener on December 10 while Sullivan West’s boys (1-2) and girls (0-1), Fallsburg’s boys (2-1) and girls (1-2), along with Eldred girls (1-0) test their mettle in the final games of the Chester tourney. Indoor track will get underway with a relay meet at West Point on December 9. The season’s first developmental meet will be held at Sullivan County Community College on December 12.

Visit www.sportsinsightsny.com for ongoing stories and albums of photos.