HAZLETON – Pleasant Valley held Bangor 16 points below its season scoring average (75.2).
The Bears also scored 10 more points than the Slaters have allowed per game this year (37.2).
However, moral victories don't win games, and they certainly don't win championships, as Bangor remained undefeated on the season (7-0) with a 59-47 victory to claim their first Couger Holiday Classic championship.
The Slaters average margin of victory in their previous six contests was 38 points, so the Bears also provided Bangor with its toughest test of the season.
"Bron Holland's a great coach. I've been playing against him in the MVC for years (when he coached at Pocono Mountain East) and his teams are always prepared, they play hard, and his kids get after it and run their stuff real nice," stated Pleasant Valley head coach Ken Piontkowski. "Bangor's an excellent team, but we weren't looking to try to hang close with them; we wanted to come in here to win the game and they beat us."
Unlike Tuesday's semifinal contest when the Bears fell behind, they reversed their fortunes by taking an 11-10 lead over the first eight minutes.
Twice, Pleasant Valley led by as many as four points in the second quarter off successful three-pointers by Tevin Franklin and Richie Irving. However, the Slaters converted three consecutive treys of their own, sandwiched around a Nick Stanovick trey and another Franklin triple, to knot the game at 25-25.
The Bears seemed poised to take a one-point lead into halftime, but a Matt Carey jumper as time expired propelled Bangor to a 28-27 lead at the break.
"I thought we played pretty well early on and we had a decent first half," added Piontkowski. "We shot ourselves in the foot with a couple of turnovers (8) that I think prevented us from going into halftime with a lead, and of course the bucket there at the buzzer was a big momentum killer."
As the tide began to turn in Bangor's favor, the Slaters scored the first seven points of the third quarter and opened the second half converting five of their first six shots from the floor for a ten-point cushion (39-29). Meanwhile, the Bears were ice cold, missing their first eight shots from the field and not scoring their first bucket until the 1:52 mark of the third quarter.
"I know it's an old basketball cliche, but in the locker room, we talked about how the first couple of minutes of the second half were crucial, and Bangor came out and just took it to us. They didn't allow us to get into a flow on offense because they put a lot of pressure right over half court double teaming the ball and we didn't handle it well. It not only resulted in a turnover for us, it also resulted in points for them."
The Bears turned the ball over seven times in the third quarter, as they were outscored 15-5.
Pleasant Valley started to stymie Bangor in the fourth quarter with some pressure defense of its own that resulted in eight Slater turnovers, but the closest the Bears would come was seven points with just 1:30 left in the game.
"We fought back there at the end, but these guys have been doing that all year," concluded Piontkowski. "The kids certainly didn't quit, but we just didn't play well enough to win tonight."
Nick Stanovick (13) and Eric Wild (12) led the Bears (5-3), while Mike Sharpe scored 10 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Lavalva 0-0-0-0, Mulitsch 6-0-0-16, Ammermann 3-0-4-6, Carey 4-6-6-15, Reider 6-1-1-14, Ringland 3-0-0-6, Colton 0-2-4-2, Altemose 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-9-15-59.
Blot 0-0-0-0, Franklin 2-1-2-7, Wright 0-0-0-0, Sharpe 3-4-6-10, Bok 0-0-0-0, Irving 2-0-0-5, Stanovick 5-1-2-13, Wild 3-5-5-12. TOTALS: 15-11-15-47.
Bangor 10 18 15 16 - 59
Pleasant Vy. 11 16 5 15 - 47
Three-Pointers: Bangor - Mulitsch 4, Carey 1, Reider 1; Pleasant Valley - Franklin 2, Stanovick 2, Irving 1, Wild 1.