Marquis Brown's rebound and put-back brought Pleasant Valley to with four points with a little less than two minutes to play in Wednesday's District 11 Class AAAA boys matchup against Emmaus.
After trailing by double digits just minutes earlier, it looked as if the Bears would make that trek all the way back as they had an opportunity at cutting the Hornets' lead to a one possession game the next time down the court.
Instead a Pleasant Valley turnover gave the ball back to Emmaus with a little more than a minute to play. After the Hornets hit a free throw to make it 50-45, Bryan Sharpe's missed jumper ended any hope of a Bears comeback. The Hornets would go on to hit their free throws, ending the Bears' season with a 55-45 victory.
"They're solid so you know they're not going to make too many mistakes," said head coach Ken Piontkowski. "And when you got those opportunities and you don't capitalize on them, sometimes it feels bigger than against somebody else. Because you know that they are going to make their free throws and they're not going to turn the ball over.
"We were there at the end. We had a chance but you have to make those plays."
The Bears took a 35-33 lead in the third quarter after a Chris Skutnik bucket. But the Hornets would go on a 9-0 spurt to end the third, and opened up the fourth with a Dan Brndjar layup that made it 44-35.
But the Bears wouldn't go away quietly. Brown - who had a team-high 13 points and 16 rebounds - capped off an 8-3 Pleasant Valley run that made it 47-43 with roughly 4:30 to play. And although they managed to get to within four again in those final minutes, the Bears could never fully recover.
"We knew that they were all kind of physical, and they were going to shoot foul shots well," said Piontkowski. "They have a real balanced attack.
"They were kind of trying to dare us to shoot a little bit from the outside. Unfortunately we didn't shoot the ball very well from the perimeter. So that didn't help loosen things up for the big guys."
Devon Howard put in six points in the opening eight minutes and helped the Bears double up the Hornets and race out to a 14-7 lead after the first quarter.
The Hornets, however, responded in the second quarter and regained momentum for good. The Hornets outscored the Bears 23-13 in the second, and led by three after Brndjar picked up a loose ball under the hoop and scored as time expired in the half.
"They had a good second quarter," said Piontkowski. "I think the run towards the end of the first half, when instead of going in with a lead we went in with a three-point deficit, I really felt like we should have had a lead going into halftime the way we had played."
Tannous hit three three-pointers for the Hornets and had a game-high 18 points on the night. Brndjar had 13, while Joe Nicolini and Nate Feiertag each scored nine apiece.
The Hornets will advance to play Liberty in the quarterfinals on Saturday. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. at Allen High School.
"I don't feel like we played our best game," said Piontkowski. "It's not like we came down here and played our best game and we're just playing to stay in it.
"I think the outcome could've been different. But I'm not disappointed in the effort."
Jones 1-0-0-2, Hrbek 1-0-0-2, Deegan 2-0-0-4, Skutnik 1-0-0-2, Sharpe 2-0-0-4, Neubert 1-0-1-2, Howard 4-4-5-12, Brown 5-3-6-13. TOTALS: 19-7-12-45
Tannous 5-5-5-18, McGovern 2-0-0-4, Brndjar 3-6-6-13, Shankweiler 0-2-3-2, Bertram 0-0-0-0, Feiertag 3-3-7-9, Nicolini 4-1-1-9, Bradshaw 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 17-17-22-55
Pleas. Vy. 14 13 8 10 - 45
Emmaus 7 23 12 13 - 55
Three-pointers: PV - None; E - Tannous 3, Brndjar 1.