The road to the District 11 playoffs just got a lot tougher for the Pleasant Valley boys' basketball team.
The Bears hung with the Pocono Mountain West Panthers for three quarters, however couldn't keep up in the fourth as they fell in Mountain Valley Conference play, 66-55. Pleasant Valley played one of its better games against a team with only one conference loss, but - according to head coach Ken Piontkowski - lacked the emotion needed to get it over the top.
"I don't feel like we turned it over a ton and I don't feel like we didn't battle on the boards," said Piontkowski. "I'm sure we turned it over more than we should have and got beat on the boards more than I think, but I definitely think we battled.
"I thought we played better tonight than we did at their place. I thought we executed better as well, but we just lacked that emotion. I told the guys that if I had a magic wand I would want them to play with a little more raw emotion. I just didn't feel it tonight."
Junior Mike Sharpe was a one-man wrecking crew for the Bears and almost single-handedly kept his team in the game. Sharpe scored a game-high 21 points, including a combined 19 in the second and third quarters.
After trailing by five entering the second, Pleasant Valley went on a 7-0 run and took its first lead of the game. The teams would go back and forth before a Sharpe lay-up would put the Bears back up 21-20.
However, the lead was short-lived as West's Jake Boyle came down on the next possession and buried a three-pointer. Boyle's three sparked a 9-4 run and helped the Panthers to a 29-25 lead at the break.
The third quarter was much of the same. Sharpe stepped up big once again, as he hit a three at the 3:30 mark to put the Bears back in front by one. A bucket by each team made the score 38-37, but then Fortune began to leave his mark. Fortune hit back-to-back three-pointers to put West up five. The Panthers' lead would be three heading into the fourth.
Unfortunately for the Bears, that is when the wheels fell off. Fortune slashed through Pleasant Valley's zone press and got some easy lay-ups for he and his teammates. That, coupled with the fact that the Bears did not make a field goal until about two minutes left in the game, signaled the doom for the locals.
"It looked like we just fell apart," Piontkowski said. "We tried to play a little 200 (zone press) and they just dribbled right through it and shot three lay-ups. From there it was basically game over.
"It was a four point game and I figured we would try to press a little because it seemed like it bothered them in the first half. But (West point guard Tynell) Fortune dribbled through it and got some easy lay-ups."
No other Bear player scored in double figures other than Sharpe. Forward Pat Kregeloh chipped in with nine, while point guard Jon McQuay added eight.
The loss is damaging to Pleasant Valley (8-12, 4-6). The Bears must now win both of their conference games against Pocono Mountain East and Stroudsburg - both of whom they have already lost to. Although the road may be extremely tough, at least the Bears are still playing for something as compared to the last two seasons.
"It definitely helps," said Piontkowski. "Last year we could only play for pride at this time. It got exhausting because playing for pride can only last so long.
"It makes it easier in the sense that we know what we have to do. We just want to get it down to that last game (against Stroudsburg). If we can do that then I think we will have the advantage because everything will be on the line and we will come out fired up."
POCONO MT. WEST
Bryant 5-0-0-11, Fortune 8-0-0-20, G. Scott 0-0-0-0, Howard 2-0-0-4, Boyle 3-0-0-9, Brice 1-0-1-2, Anema 3-2-3-8, Duclair 0-0-0-0, Dixon 1-0-0-2, Rodriguez 0-0-0-0, Halsey 0-0-0-0, Amoroso 0-0-0-0, K. Scott 4-2-3-10. TOTALS: 27-4-7-66.
Conklin 1-0-0-3, Stanovick 1-0-0-3, Kregeloh 3-3-4-9, Sharpe 9-2-3-21, Wild 1-0-0-2, McQuay 3-0-1-8, Irving 2-1-2-5, Biney 1-0-0-3, Castner 0-0-0-0, Garcia 0-1-2-1, Z. Knudsen 0-0-0-0, C. Knudsen 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 21-7-12-55.
PM West 13 16 18 19 - 66
Pleasant Vy 8 17 19 11 - 55
Three-Pointers: PM - Fortune 4, Boyle 3, Bryant; PV - McQuay 2, Conklin, Stanovick, Sharpe, Biney.