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Champions once more!

Tri-Valley players rush to hug one another at center court following the title win, the team’s first since 2011.

By Richard A Ross
March 5, 2014

NEW PALTZ, NY — Captured forever in a sequence of photos that records their unbridled emotions, the Tri-Valley Lady Bears converged in a jumping, swirling group hug replete with laughter and tears following their dramatic 59-54 Section Nine Championship win over talented, feisty Pine Plains on February 27. For the 18-0 Class C juggernaut and their coach Jason Closs, this crown was what they had sought all year long. That quest began a year ago with a stultifying semifinal overtime loss to Chester.

Out of the ashes of that defeat arose the Phoenix of a squad that emerged as the 2014 champions. The title win, the team’s first since 2011, propelled the state’s third-ranked Class C team into a regional semifinal game with Section One’s Haldane on March 4. Indeed, as their warm-up shirts motto “One More” attested, the desire to win was the team’s raison d’être. The details of the ebb and flow of the game and the visceral experience of “being there” can best be obtained by reading “Aloft On Cloud Nine: From 2013 Despair To Infinity and Beyond” (www.sportsinsightsny.com). Senior standout Katlynn Greffrath led the way with 22 points. The win followed Tri-Valley’s convincing 62-38 Section IX semifinal win over No. 5 seeded S.S. Seward on February 25. In that last-ever home game for the T-V seniors, Greffrath surpassed the 1,000 point career milestone, joining 2011 graduate Jakki Pugh as the sole ladies to achieve that lofty accrual in the annals of Tri-Valley history. Proud of the accomplishment as she was, the will to win the Section IX title was uppermost in her mind. In the finals, Tri-Valley prevailed against the No. 2 seeded Lady Bombers in their toughest test to date. And it was nothing short of a complete team effort. Fellow senior Sabrena Smith contributed 17 points, seven rebounds and seven steals. Junior Caroline Martin had eight points and a spate of rebounds and steals as well. The Lady Bears got major contributions from a cadre of players in the victory. Tri-Valley led 19-9 at the end of the first quarter, but in the dramatic nexus of the final two minutes the game hung in the balance as the Lady Bombers made crucial shots to close within one point before T-V got added points from the free throw line.