NORTHAMPTON Pleasant Valley's defense isn't in midseason form yet, but don't tell that to Northampton.
Thanks to an aggressive man-to-man D, the Bears stymied the Kids at the offensive end and eventually cruised to a 45-30 non-league victory in their season opener Friday night.
"We feel like we have a lot of depth and we feel like we have some guys that can play," said PV head coach Ken Piontkowski. "It's nice to have that depth. We can just keep bringing guys out, and I think that'll tire teams down if we keep that kind of pressure up.
"I felt like we did a pretty good job defending them when we didn't foul. We just have to keep our hands off people and learn to play with our feet."
Using 10 players throughout the whole contest, the Bears were able to stay active at the defensive end. That effort led to Northampton hitting just eight shots from the floor the entire night.
"Their man defense was very aggressive," said Konrete Kid mentor Coy Stampone, whose team finished 8-of-29. "It's tough to simulate that in practice. They're very, very quick.
"They took away a lot of our wing passes ... We started our offense too high and had a lot of turnovers. They were doubling us, and they took us out of our rhythm of what we wanted to accomplish offensively."
Pleasant Valley's offense, meanwhile, finally took control when it got the ball inside.
Taking advantage of their size, the Bears started to dominate in the paint in the second quarter. Jon Pazienza, at 6-8, and Sekou Jones, 6-3, both hit a couple shots in the lane to gain an eight-point halftime lead.
In the second half, PV's Marquis Brown became the force that many expect him to be all season.
In a seven-minute stretch, Brown keyed a 17-5 run by scoring 10 points and pulling down five rebounds. That outburst helped turn a 23-16 lead into a commanding 40-21 spread.
"Marquis is a big body and has long arms," said Piontkowski. "He's 6-4 or 6-5 but he plays even bigger than that. He's physical and a good athlete. He's just so strong with the ball.
"He played pretty aggressive the whole game. He's really a gamer. I want guys to play hard all the time, and he does practice pretty hard, but on game days it just seems like he finds another gear. He just has the ability to get that extra effort when he needs it. He loves to win, and he's a winner."
Brown finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds, eight of them off the offensive glass. Pazienza ended with eight while Jones added five points and five boards.
"We knew coming into the game they had some size, and we had a feeling that was going to be a problem for us," said Stampone.
The Bears also posted a win in the JV contest as 15 points from Eric Mikulski and 11 from Aaron Roughley led to a 43-38 victory.
Brown 7-2-2-16, Skutnik 0-0-0-0, Howard 2-1-4-5, Hosier 1-0-0-3, Deegan 0-1-2-1, Sharpe 1-1-3-3, Hrbek 1-0-0-2, Jones 3-1-2-7, Pazienza 2-4-4-8, Robinson 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 17-10-17-45.
Mehle 0-2-2-2, Yeow 0-0-0-0, Morris 2-0-0-5, Cook 2-1-2-7, George 1-2-5-4, Rosenbauer 0-0-0-0, Zamadics 0-0-0-0, Stonewall 3-4-8-10, Hunsberger 0-1-2-1, Cook 0-0-0-0, Sullivan 0-0-0-0, Hudock 0-1-2-1. TOTALS: 8-11-21-30.
Pleasant Valley 8 13 14 10 - 45
Northampton 5 8 8 9 - 30
Three-pointers: Pleasant Valley - Hosier 1; Northampton - Cook 2, Morris 1.