Dry spells will often spell death for many things golf courses in the Summer, ski slopes in the Winter, and more relevantly, the Pleasant Valley basketball team's offense.
For a six-and-a-half minute stretch of the second half, East Stroudsburg South's defense and a lethargic Bear offense combined to yield an almost inevitable MVC loss.
The Cavaliers then held off a late charge by Pleasant Valley to hold on for the 49-44 win.
South's O'Neil Holder, the league MVP a year ago, and teammate Andre Jackson combined for 41 of their team's 49 points to lead the charge. With a swarming zone defense and timely free throw shooting, the Cavs proved to be tough to top.
"I think this year, more than many others in the past, there's more parity throughout the league," East Stroudsburg South head coach Shawn Munford said. "With the talent pretty well dispersed and phenomenal coaching throughout the league, it's always huge if you can get a win at a tough Pleasant Valley gymnasium."
The Cavaliers (3-1) doubled up the Bears in the middle two periods to eventually make the difference.
After seeing his team score only 12 points over those two sessions, Pleasant Valley coach Ken Piontkowski related, "We end up losing focus for moments. We look okay for a while and we think we have something going, then we make a couple mistakes, lose that focus, and it ends up fueling their runs."
Early on, the Bears swiped a 15-9 edge after the opening eight minutes as Bryan Sharpe's five and Nyiem Nevarez's four led the way. Holder put in his team's first seven to keep the Cavs close.
After a Zach Deegan drive down the lane, Holder and Jackson went to work, putting together a 15-4 run to close out the first half. During the Cavalier push, Holder scored eight and Jackson added seven, with Marquis Brown scoring the four for the Bears (1-3)
"They got going there for a while and we eventually responded, but it took too long for us to get back into it," Piontkowski said.
A 6-0 run gave the Bears a 27-24 lead with 5:02 left in the third, before the dry spell hit. Pleasant Valley didn't score again until six and a half remained in the fourth. By that time the deficit had reached 38-27.
Brown put an end to the 14-0 Cavalier run with a put-back off a miss, and began the comeback that eventually fell short.
"Hopefully we can develop our focus for an entire game because those dry spells are hard to come back from," Piontkowski said.
Marquis Brown led the Bears with 17 points. Eric Mikulski followed with 12.
EAST STROUDSBURG SOUTH
Holder 6-9-10-22, Nieves 0-0-0-0, Jackson 7-5-5-19, Toleno 0-0-0-0, Caldera 0-2-2-2, Stewart 0-1-2-1, Roberson 2-0-0-4, Swinton 0-0-0-0, Davy 0-1-2-1. TOTALS: 15-18-21-49.
Brown 8-1-3-17, Mikulski 4-2-2-12, Nevarez 1-2-2-4, Robinson 0-0-0-0, Hosier 0-0-0-0, Deegan 1-2-2-4, Sharpe 2-0-0-5, Raughley 0-0-0-0, Neubert 1-0-2-2. TOTALS: 17-7-11-44.
ES South 9 15 10 15 - 49
Pleasant Valley 15 6 6 17 - 44
Three pointers: ESS – Holder 1; PV – Mikulski 2, Sharpe 1.