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December 05, 2016
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Survival instinct

Sullivan West senior Sawyer Erlwein looks to drive against Tri-Valley senior Cody Exner in the 5th Annual Sullivan County Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic. The Bulldogs’ 68-53 win also served as the championship game for the Walton Tournament. Erlwein was named to the All-Tournament team with teammate Matt Cardona who was hailed as MVP. T-V’s Shatik Smith and Alex Brown were selected to the All-Tourney team as well.
Photos by Nick Piatek, sportsinsightsny.com

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — There resides in us a powerful life force which, when challenged, will fight back with unfathomable determination to survive. For the will to go on, even in the face of unspeakable adversity, is our most assertive instinct. That said, those battles waged, even with the most exemplary valor, are ultimately defeated by our mortality. Life, at least in this plane of existence, is of limited duration. We plan, we hope, we dream of a long and fulfilled lifespan, but there are forces that can efface such longings and none of them is more lethal than cancer.

Call it the scourge of our time, but it leaves few lives untouched. The battles to find a cure or, better yet, prevention are ongoing. And to that end, many have lent their energy and resources to hasten the coming of that wondrous day when we can regard cancer like polio, diphtheria, smallpox and other once dreaded diseases, as yet another triumphant victory in our battle for survival.

The world of sports has been strongly impacted by this disease, which has claimed some its most storied warriors. Marshaling legions of fans who share a common love of basketball along with a longing to end the reign of cancer, fundraising efforts such as Coaches Versus Cancer have raised millions of dollars for research and treatment.

Locally, that movement is now in its fifth year, celebrated most recently by the Fifth Annual Sullivan County BCANY Coaches Versus Cancer Classic Basketball Tournament staged this year at Monticello High School on February 16 and at Sullivan County Community College on February 17. Detailed stories about the event’s inception and its history, dubbed “Survivor’s Manifesto,” can be found at www.sportsinsightsny.com in archives from past years.

Originally scheduled for the prior weekend at SCCC but postponed by snow, the two-day high school docket was moved to fit a daylong cavalcade of boys and girls games staged in the famous Pit, Monticello’s hallowed gymnasium. More important than the games themselves, which, of course, featured many of Sullivan County’s best and most talented athletes, was the event’s mission. This year’s tourney was dedicated to the memory of two beloved local icons who lost their battles to cancer: former Sullivan County Democrat sports editor Rob Potter and Jack Semo, the father of former Liberty High School Athletic Director Jason Semo. Both will be greatly missed; both touched many lives and changed our world for the better in their tenure among us. Once again, upward of $3,000 was raised for the Catskill Regional Oncology Unit, which has been the benefactor of this event since its inception. A more detailed account of the exact final tally raised and the details of the games can be found at www.sportsinsightsny.com.

Here is the skinny on the results: Girls: Eldred (6-9) 40, Liberty (3-12) 28; Tri-Valley (11-5) 68, Sullivan West (3-15) 38; Boys: Fallsburg (11-5) 73, Roscoe (5-11) 59; Sullivan West (11-5) 68, Tri-Valley (11-6) 53; Monticello (8-10) 64, Liberty (3-15) 26.

The Montie jayvee team downed Liberty 74-21. In college play, the Lady Generals defeated Queensborough Community College 73-28, while the SCCC Generals downed Queensborough 99-65.

Basketball sectionals will begin on February 23. The seeding meeting to set up the brackets will be held on February 21. Next week’s column will focus on the Sullivan County Indoor Track Championships, slated for February 19, and a preview of the basketball sectionals replete with any early results.