Tuesday night's boys' basketball game between Pocono Mountain East and Pleasant Valley wasn't the prettiest game to watch, but it was definitely full of excitement.
The Mountain Valley Conference tilt came down to the final minutes despite some sloppy play. After East's Jok Asiyo scored with 55 seconds to go to give his team a two-point lead, Pleasant Valley had one last chance to tie or win. However, after using up all of the time and getting their final shot blocked, the Bears came up short.
For the second time in as many games, Pleasant Valley turned the ball over at least 19 times. Whereas the Bears pulled out a two-point victory over Pocono Mountain West last Friday, this time they fell to Pocono Mountain East 35-33.
"I think it was all about missed opportunities," said Pleasant Valley head coach Ken Piontkowski. "In the first half (East) turned the ball over and we just kept returning the favor. When we had a chance to pull away we let them hang around.
"We were 13-for-44 from the field, 7-for-17 from the line and missed a number of layups. You can't do all of that against a team that is fighting for its playoff life and think that you are going to win the game."
Play from both teams was miserable in the first half. East turned the ball over 12 times in the first 16 minutes and had just 13 points to its credit. Pleasant Valley ended up with 10 first-half turnovers and went into the break with 19 points.
The Cardinals began to climb back in the third and took their first lead of the night at the 1:00 mark when Dave Garcia drove for a layup.The lead was short-lived though, as the Bears' Sekou Jones converted on a three-point play to give the Bears a 25-24 lead.
Both teams went back-and-forth in the final quarter. Although Pleasant Valley didn't record its first points until nearly three minutes had elapsed, it built up some steam and staked a three-point lead thanks to consecutive buckets from Marquis Brown.
With the score tied at 33 with a minute to go, Asiyo pulled up from the elbow and sank it to give the Cardinals the lead. Piontkowski decided to let his team play it out, but was forced to call a timeout with six seconds remaining after failing to get a good look. The game-winning play then broke down and resulted in Dre Shivers getting blocked on a last-second drive.
Pleasant Valley has one regular season game remaining against Stroudsburg on Friday before starting its run in the MVC and District 11 playoffs. Piontkowski said that his team must focus better or their post-season run may be short-lived.
"I am befuddled at times," admitted Piontkowski. "I don't think we are focused all the time. We didn't mail it in and we didn't look awful, but when we miss that many layups and make certain turnovers it looks like we aren't immersed in the game.
"Unless it says West across the jersey, it doesn't seem like we are immersed in a lot of games. I think that's why we shoot a bad percentage. If you are locked up in the game then I think you shoot a little better. I said in the preseason that if we don't focus then we will struggle. That seems to be the case in the games we have lost this year."
Pleasant Valley (10-11) was led by Selwyn Wright's 10 points.
Ko. Harris 0-0-0-0, Wheeler 0-0-0-0, Garcia 5-1-3-12, Gleason 0-0-0-0, Stapler 0-0-0-0, Ky. Harris 1-0-2-2, Maloney 0-0-0-0, Clarke 2-0-0-5, Randazzo 0-0-0-0, Asiyo 7-2-3-16, Sickler 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 15-3-8-35.
Dekmar 2-0-0-4, Wright 4-2-4-10, Gerolimatos 0-0-0-0, Shivers 1-0-0-2, Zwack 0-0-0-0, Brown 4-1-4-9, Howard 0-0-2-0, Jones 2-4-7-8, Getz 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 13-7-17-33.
PM East 4 9 11 11 - 35
Pleasant Vy 9 10 6 8 - 33
Three-Pointers: PME – Garcia 1, Clarke 1.