STROUDSBURG – The Pleasant Valley boys' basketball team was flying high after its overtime win over Stroudsburg in the Mountain Valley Conference semi-finals on Wednesday.
Pocono Mountain West was more than happy to bring the Bears back down to earth.
With the memory of Pleasant Valley being the only conference team to beat them still in their minds, the Panthers came out with intense ball pressure and flew all over the court defensively. West forced the Bears into 30 turnovers en route to an 82-49 victory in the MVC championship. It is the Panthers' second consecutive conference title.
"We got our butts kicked, plain and simple," said Pleasant Valley head coach Ken Piontkowski. "(West) came out ready to go from the tip and just took it to us for 48 minutes. Other than a few minutes there in the first quarter, the game was really never in doubt. It was obvious that they were on a mission tonight and they certainly completed it."
West (19-4) opened the game on a 9-0 spurt and raced out to a 19-10 lead after one. Mike Collins netted eight points in the quarter and helped his teammates shoot 7-for-17 in the quarter. Meanwhile, Pleasant Valley (11-13) couldn't stop turning the ball over and ended the frame with as many turnovers as points (10). The Bears managed to close the gap to 16-10, but had the air taken out of them when Collins sank a three at the buzzer.
The story remained the same into the second quarter. By the time halftime rolled around, Pleasant Valley had more turnovers (20) than both shot attempts and points (17). At the same time West rolled to 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting. MVC MVP Brice led the way with eight points in the quarter and finished with 20 points.
"The first half probably couldn't have started out any worse," said Piontkowski. "They raced out to a ten point lead and we were immediately forced into come-back mode. You can only fight back for so long against their pressure and we had to do it within the first couple minutes of the game.
"I remained positive going into halftime. With the run we made on Wednesday there was no reason to think that we couldn't do it again. Albeit West is a much different opponent than Stroudsburg, but we didn't think we were down and out. We just had to take better care of the ball. We kind of did, but we also had the problem of our shots not falling. It was a tough battle to fight tonight."
While Pleasant Valley did take better care of the ball and only turned the ball over only ten times in the second half, the score didn't get any closer. West continued to shoot at a high percentage (14-for-25) and finished the game at 56 percent from the field. Jon Amoroso scored 19 of his game-high 22 points in the second half.
The Bears did total 32 points in the second half, but did so on 24 shots. Dre Shivers dropped two three-pointers after halftime and finished with 13 points. He was the only local to score more than eight points.
Marquis Brown played with a high ankle sprain and finished with eight points, however six of those points came in the third quarter. Selwyn Wright added seven on 3-for-8 shooting.
Pleasant Valley will have a few days off before beginning play in the District 11 playoffs. The Bears will likely drop to a middle-of-the-pack seed and may have to face one of the district's top teams in the second round should they win their first round match-up. Despite having at least one more game to play, Piontkowski wasn't all about looking forward to the future.
"This one hurts," admitted Piontkowski. "Anytime you lose a championship game it hurts. We knew it was going to be tough, but you never go into a game expecting to lose. We knew we were capable of beating them because we did it two weeks ago.
"Of course I was happy to be here. We hadn't been in this position in quite a while. But that doesn't mean I am complacent with losing. We will have a few days to get ready for whoever we are going to play, but for the next day or so this is going to be the only thing on my mind."
Brown 4-0-0-8, Wright 3-1-4-7, Dekmar 2-0-0-5, Jones 0-0-2-0, Shivers 4-2-4-13, Howard 2-0-3-4, Getz 2-0-0-5, Zwack 0-0-0-0, Gerolimatos 0-0-0-0, Hosier 0-2-3-2, Helfrich 1-0-0-3, Neubert 0-2-2-2. TOTALS: 18-7-18-49.
POCONO MOUNTAIN WEST
Brice 9-2-7-20, Vick 1-1-2-4, Collins 7-0-0-18, Amoroso 8-6-7-22, T. Dixon 2-5-5-9, Wiggins 1-0-0-2, Vines 1-0-0-2, Baptiste 0-0-0-0, D. Dixon 1-1-2-3, Burton 0-2-2-2, Hardy 0-0-0-0, Howard 0-0-0-0, Fladger 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 30-17-25-82.
Pleasant Vy 10 7 16 16 - 49
PM West 19 24 18 21 - 82
Three-Pointers: PV – Shivers 3, Dekmar 1, Getz 1, Helfrich 1; PM – Collins 4, Vick 1.