It wasn't always pretty, but the Pleasant Valley boys' basketball team got the job done in the end.
The Bears rebounded from three quarters of missed opportunities to defeat Pocono Mountain East in Mountain Valley Conference play, winning 47-38 on Senior Night. Pleasant Valley, which totaled just 29 points through the first 24 minutes of play, scored more than half of that (18) in the final frame to power its way to the victory.
"When we ran our sets well, we got whatever we wanted," said Pleasant Valley head coach Ken Piontkowski. "When we didn't, we looked out of whack and either took some questionable shots or turned the ball over.
"For the first three quarters it felt like we couldn't put a string of three or four good possessions together. Obviously the missed free throws didn't help and once we started making them we pulled away. But it wasn't until the fourth quarter that we finally forced some turnovers with our press, got some easy buckets, and played good basketball."
Pocono Mountain opened the game with five quick points to take an early lead. Due to some turnovers and some missed lay-ups, Pleasant Valley didn't score its first points of the game until Devon Howard laid in a breakaway at the 3:47 mark. Fellow big man Marquis Brown added four points to bring the Bears to within one at the end of one.
Play was rather even in the second as both teams traded buckets for the majority of the quarter. Brown scored late to tie the game at 19, however East's Zeldon Vazquez hit a jumper with a few seconds to go to give the Cardinals a 21-19 lead heading into the break.
"At times we looked great," said Piontkowski. "We'd either hit Brown on the block and he would go to work, or Howard would get out on the break and finish. But then we had possessions where we might as well have just brought the ball down the court and handed it to the other team.
"That's been a problem for us all year. There are times where we seem to take possessions off. The really good teams have taken it to us when we have done that. Fortunately we were able to survive long enough tonight to make a run in the fourth."
Pleasant Valley held Pocono Mountain to just three points and one field goal in the third, but was unable to put the Cardinals away due to its poor free throw shooting. Although the Bears opened the half on a 6-0 run, they missed all six of their free throw attempts to make them a dismal 2-for-12 through the first three periods of play.
The locals finally got it together in the fourth behind their full-court 2-2-1 press. Pleasant Valley got some steals and some easy buckets and scored eight points within the first two minutes to open things up a little bit. On top of that, the Bears connected on 12-of-18 free throw attempts throughout the quarter to keep the Cardinals at bay.
Howard scored 11 of his game-high 20 points in the fourth to help Pleasant Valley move to 8-6 on the season. Brown added 13 points, while Bryan Sharpe dropped ten.
"Whether it was pretty or not, we have put together a nice little run here," Piontkowski said. "This is now three in a row since we lost to Pocono Mountain West last Friday. Winning is always better than losing, so I will take them any way I can get them. If we can continue to get better as we are winning games then I like our chances even more as we get down toward the end of the year and the MVC tournament."
POCONO MOUNTAIN EAST
Randazzo 2-1-2-5, Yarosh 2-1-2-5, Clarke 2-0-0-6, Gonzalez 0-0-0-0, Comas 2-0-0-5, Vazquez 3-0-0-6, Sarajian 0-2-2-2, Tyndall 0-1-2-1, Diaz 1-1-3-3, Steckel 1-3-5-5. TOTALS: 13-9-16-38.
Skutnik 0-0-2-0, Jones 0-1-2-1, Helfrich 0-0-0-0, Hrbek 0-0-0-0, Howard 7-6-9-20, Brown 5-3-6-13, Sharpe 3-3-6-10, Hosier 0-0-0-0, Neubert 1-1-5-3. TOTALS: 16-14-30-47.
PM East 9 12 3 14 - 38
Pleasant Vy 8 11 10 18 - 47
Three-pointers: PM - Clarke 2, Comas; PV - Sharpe 1.