March 10, 2011 —
By RICHARD A. ROSS
SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — March came in with a mighty roar in the high school sports championship cavalcade. Lions revel in their pride and now so do the 18-1 Lady Bears of Tri-Valley, who won their first-ever Section 9 championship by defeating Millbrook 40-27 in the Class C finals on March 6 at SUNY New Paltz.
Led by senior standout Jakki Pugh’s 17 points, the Lady Bears overcame early jitters to outscore the Lady Blazers 13-2 in the second quarter and maintain their dominance from then on. Pugh is the lone returnee from last year’s team that suffered a devastating defeat to Tuxedo in the finals. With a new coach in John Tenbus and a cadre of youngsters to teach and encourage, Pugh vowed to give it one more try. The win was the zenith to date of a storybook run. Tri-Valley got nine points from freshman Kaitlynn Greffrath. Millbrook had downed Eldred in the semifinal 44-34 to advance to the final, a game most believed would feature the Lady Yellow Jackets and the Lady Bears for their third clash of the year. Tri-Valley is ranked seventh in the state and took on fourth-ranked Haldane from Section 1 in a regional game on March 8.
On March 7 in the Class D finals, Sullivan County’s other two remaining teams, the Livingston Manor/Roscoe girls and the Livingston Manor boys got set to play the defending champion teams from John A. Coleman Catholic. In the girls fray, Marissa Diescher scored 30 of her team’s eventual 34 points, as the Lady Wildcats headed into the fourth quarter with the game tied at 28. Coleman, which has four Class A transfer students on its squad, got hot and outscored LM/R 16-6 to earn its fourth consecutive title. Diescher and many of her teammates, along with coach Kevin Clifford, will now eschew the basketball in favor of a softball, as the Lady Wildcats venture forth to defend their state title. Manor/Roscoe finished up at 15-5.
The dominant Coleman boys used their size, speed and experience, that included a loss in last year’s finals at Glens Falls, to run away from Manor in the second half on the way to their fifth consecutive title by dint of a 58-37 win over the Wildcats.
Manor (17-5) was paced by junior Mike Mills, who had four threes on his way to a team-high 14 points.