The steepest ascent
SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — Far below this high plateau of the winter basketball season lie the foothills where it all began. And along the steady rise of the trail that began with the start of the season are teams that fell by the wayside lacking what was needed to climb higher. But for those few teams who made it to the sectionals, from which only one boys and girls team can emerge as champion in each class, this final local ascent, namely the Section IX tournament, is the steepest and most arduous to date.
The chance to vie for a sectional title is what each and every team hoped to be a part of back in December, but only the elite contenders still remain, each hoping to hold that Holy Grail of a championship plaque aloft to enshrine their achievement into the annals of school and Section IX history. As of this writing much of this still looms, but by the time you are reading this the fate of many of these local warriors will already be a fait accompli. Such is already the case for the number-nine-seeded Fallsburg Lady Comets (6-11), who fell to number-eight-seeded Ellenville 52-34 in a Class B out-bracket game. The Fallsburg Boys fell to Millbrook 82-68. As to the teams still alive at this juncture, the most compelling story centers around the 16-0 Tri-Valley Lady Bears, the number-three-ranked Class team in New York State. Tri-Valley closed out its regular season with a commanding 72-33 non-league win over Eldred. Aspiring to secure the Section IX title, last won by the Lady Bears in 2010, Tri-Valley, ranked only behind Section IV Harpursville (18-0) and Section III Little Falls (19-0), will host Section IX Class C number-four-seeded S.S. Seward on February 25, hoping to advance to the finals at SUNY New Paltz on February 27 against the winner of Pine Plains vs. Tuxedo. The latter is the defending Class C champion. T-V senior standout Katlynn Greffrath needs only 19 more points to reach a career milestone of 1,000. Fellow seniors Sabrena Smith, Colleen Jones and Ashley Exner hope to do their part to secure the Section IX title. Tri-Valley is coached by Jason Closs who in his first season marshaling the Lady Bears has done what he did with the school’s J.V. boys team a year ago, namely oversee an undefeated regular season. The Eldred Lady Yellow Jackets (8-10) won the Section IX Class D title by default, as no other teams qualify. And since there are no Class D contenders in Sections I, VIII or XI, Eldred gets a pair of byes to the state final four to be played at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy on March 15. The number-seven-seeded Monticello Lady Panthers played at number-two-seeded Cornwall on February 25. This is the final season for Coach Karen Atack, a remarkable mentor whose storied career this writer has documented time and time again. In the boys realm the number seven Monticello Panthers traveled to number two Marlboro on February 25 for a quarterfinal fray. The Class D Eldred Yellow Jackets hosted Chapel Field on February 24 in a rematch of last year’s semifinal won by the bees. Eldred will get another crack at defending champion John A. Coleman Catholic at Sullivan County Community College on February 26. Eldred defeated Chapel Field 74-60. Coleman defeated Roscoe 90-43 in the other semifinal. The Class C Tri-Valley Bears secured home-court advantage in the semifinals with their recent 75-66 win over Chester, the team they will face right after the girls game on February 25. The winner will face the victor of the S.S. Seward vs. Webutuck semifinal. (The Seward Spartans lost last year’s title game to Pine Plains.) T-V Senior Jesus Lozada had six treys in the win over Chester and led his team with 26 points. Be sure to check out www.sportsinsightsny.com for updates on the tourney and read next week’s River Reporter for a recap. At the Section IX Indoor Track State Qualifier, Sullivan West junior Anthony Rydell captured first in the weight throw with a personal best heave of 49-5. The weight throw is not a state meet event but Rydell beat out all throwers from schools large and small with that mighty fling. For albums of photos visit www.sportsinsights.smugmug.com