Friday night's game against East Stroudsburg North was pretty much a do-or-die situation for the Pleasant Valley boys' basketball team if it wanted to have a shot at qualifying for the district playoffs.
Unfortunately for the Bears, their playoff hopes are now on life support.
Trailing by one point at the break, the Timberwolves came out on fire in the third quarter and pulled away from the Bears. The T'Wolves scored 27 points in the quarter - compared to their 24 points in the first half - and went on to win 68-59 in Mountain Valley Conference play.
"I thought we scored enough points to win, but our defense was non-existent," said Pleasant Valley head coach Ken Piontkowski. "Usually when we score 59 points I think we have a pretty good chance of winning. But I didn't really see that 'kill or be killed' look on our faces tonight.
"This was a game at home that we needed to have. We had a one-point lead coming out of halftime, but it just wasn't there in the second half. The whole atmosphere didn't seem right for a game that needed to be won."
East Stroudsburg North had the early advantage down low thanks to its 6'9" center in Michael Samuels. Samules scored seven of his game-high 21 points in the opening quarter and was cleaning up the offensive boards.
Still, the Bears hung tough and took their first lead with 20 seconds left in the quarter on a Nick Stanovick lay-up.
The second quarter was then back and forth with both teams scoring 15 points. Stanovick hit a three-pointer with about 10 seconds left to give the Bears a four-point lead. However, North's Anthony Baker came down the court in a hurry and hit a buzzer-beating three to bring the T'Wolves within one heading into the break.
"Although we had a small lead, I don't think we played that well in the first half," said Piontkowski. "It was kind of ugly, but I just didn't feel the emotion tonight.
"I expected the first couple plays of the game for someone to hit a three and maybe get fired up about it. Then we would hop around on defense and maybe get a steal and a lay-up and get a little noise in the place. That's what I wanted but we never really seemed to do that."
Things then fell apart for the Bears in the third quarter. North went on a 12-4 run to open the quarter and went on to outscore Pleasant Valley 27-16.
Pleasant Valley fought back in the fourth quarter and got back to within three at the 4:30 mark, but couldn't keep the momentum going. North would respond with nine straight points and went on to win by that margin.
"I thought there were a couple of tell-tale plays in the second half before I called one of my timeouts to yell at them," admitted Piontkowski. "The last couple of games when I yelled at them they responded a little bit.
"There was a play where one of our guys was standing in the middle of the paint and North drove baseline and he was just standing flat-footed. They threw it to another guy and he got a cheap three-point play on a weak slap. I don't know about anyone else, but to me you don't come into a big game and ever get caught like that."
EAST STROUDSBURG NORTH
Williams 2-0-0-4, Baker 7-3-3-18, Samuels 8-5-8-21, Ladipo 1-1-1-3, Boyer 0-0-0-0, Fort 0-0-0-0, Lamont 0-0-0-0, Adkins 1-0-0-2, Bunn-Mackenzie 1-0-0-2, John 6-6-9-18, Rey 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 26-15-21-68.
Conklin 1-2-2-5, Stanovick 5-0-0-12, Kregeloh 5-7-9-17, Sharpe 4-4-4-13, McQuay 0-0-0-0, Wild 2-0-0-4, Irving 2-4-4-8, Garcia 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 19-17-19-59.
ES North 9 15 27 17 - 68
Pleasant Vy 10 15 16 18 - 59
Three-Pointers: ESN - Baker 1; PV - Stanovick 2, Conklin 1, Sharpe 1.