When it comes to basketball, there is simply no defense for good offense.
The Pleasant Valley girls learned that the hard way Friday night.
Ramonia and Jackie Benitez, two sisters that are a senior and a sophomore respectively, combined to score 41 of Pocono Mountain West's 53 points and helped lead the Panthers past Pleasant Valley 53-42 in Mountain Valley Conference play. Those two, combined with the Bears' 15-for-50 shooting woes, spelled doom for the locals.
"They are great players so I give them credit," said Pleasant Valley head coach Nadia Gauronsky afterward. "They are great players and great shooters and they are eventually going to get hot. You just hope that you can capitalize on the opportunities you are given. If you don't then you are probably going to lose."
Ramonia came out on fire for the Panthers and scored seven points in the first quarter. Jackie added six as West build up leads of 9-2 and 11-4.
But the locals battled back. Two Keri Dekmar free throws with a minute and a half remaining in the opening frame cut the Panther lead to three. It would grow back to five by the time the quarter ended.
The second quarter was all Pleasant Valley's. The Bears started attacking the middle of West's 3-2 zone, crashed the boards, and cut down their turnovers from eight in the first quarter to just two in the second. Dekmar's foul line jumper with just over three minutes to go gave Pleasant Valley its first lead of the game (17-16). The Bears went on to outscore West 13-2 for the quarter and took a six-point lead into the break. Coincidently, neither of the Benitez sisters scored in that eight-minute time frame.
"I think we monitored where (the Benitezes) were and made the right decisions defensively," Gauronsky said. "I think in the third and fourth quarters we had too many lapses in the defense and that gave them some firepower. And I don't think that we capitalized early on when we did have them on the run."
Whatever was said in the West locker room at halftime apparently hit home, as the Panthers came out and went on a 6-0 run within the first two minutes. The Benitezes heated up once again, as Ramonia scored nine of her game-high 21 points in the quarter. Her lay-up at the 2:07 mark gave the Panthers a lead (29-27) they would never relinquish.
The sisters kept it going in the fourth. Jackie dropped seven of her 20 points in the final quarter, while Ramonia tacked on five more.
Kasey Meckes tried her best to keep Pleasant Valley in the game. She scored ten of her team-high 16 points in the second half. Unfortunately, the rest of her teammates combined for just ten.
The good thing for the Bears (13-6, 7-3) is that it's looking like they won't have to play West again until the MVC championship game.
Although her team lost to the Panthers (17-2, 10-0 MVC) for the second time this year, Gauronsky thought her team's play was much better this time around. But for now, the Bears' coach wants to take it one game at a time as they wrap up the regular season next week.
"Our kids played better," said Gauronsky. "I give credit to our girls. They played hard. Good things are happening, we just have to convert.
"We need to take it game by game right now and try to make better decisions. Hopefully if we do that then we will come out with some wins."
POCONO MT. WEST
J. Benitez 8-2-2-20, R. Benitez 7-4-10-21, Yocum 0-0-0-0, Jiminez 1-4-4-6, Flaherty 0-0-0-0, Wilson 0-0-0-0, Davis 2-1-2-6. TOYALS: 18-11-18-53.
Meckes 4-6-10-16, Dekmar 3-2-2-8, Krcic 0-0-0-0, Fields 1-0-0-2, Miller 2-0-0-4, Russell 2-1-2-5, Dorney 3-1-4-7. TOTALS: 15-10-18-42.
PM West 14 2 18 19 - 53
Pleasant Vy. 9 13 8 12 - 42
Three-pointers: PMW - R. Benitez 3, J. Benitez 2, Davis 1; PV - Meckes 2.