The Pleasant Valley girls' basketball team got off to a slow start and only scored two points within the first four-and-a-half minutes of its game Friday night.
Fortunately for the Lady Bears, they still had a lot of time left to right the ship - and they did.
Pleasant Valley reeled off 13 points in the final three-and-a-half minutes of the first quarter to take an eight-point lead and never looked back, as the locals topped East Stroudsburg South 46-34 in Mountain Valley Conference play.
"I am proud of our girls because we are young and we are still learning," said Pleasant Valley head coach Nadia Gauronsky. "We only have one senior, but we have seen improvements in every game so far. We are getting better and better at things and I think once we realized that we were a little taller inside we used it to our advantage."
Play was a little sloppy early on and it allowed Eastburg South to mount a 5-2 lead thanks to lay-ups off of two Pleasant Valley turnovers. But it didn't take the Bears long to get things worked out, as they poured in 13 points before the quarter ended. The Cavaliers didn't help their cause either. They fouled Keri Dekmar while shooting a half-court three-pointer at the buzzer and watched as she buried all three attempts to make it 15-7 after one.
Eastburg South answered with a 9-2 run of its own to open the second quarter. The run closed the gap to one with just under four minutes remaining until halftime. However after that, the Cavs wouldn't score again in the first half.
Kiki Russell, Jordan Meckes, Julia Craig and Janessa Fields all scored in the quarter and helped keep the Bears ahead, 23-16 heading into the break.
The second half saw Pleasant Valley control the boards and make its free throws as the score never got inside ten the rest of the way. Free throws were the Bears' bugaboo last season. Friday night they converted on 13-of-18 attempts and made life easier on themselves.
"It makes things a lot easier," said Gauronsky. "We can stay in games longer or keep leads when we are making our free throws. I think the girls are realizing that now, so that's a good thing."
Meanwhile, Pleasant Valley's lone senior in Arden Ciscuylis went scoreless up until there was 1:10 left in the game. She hit a three-pointer and sank two free throws after that.
Demkar led the Bears with 14 points, including eight from the free throw line. Teammate Julia Craig added six. Everyone else who got into the game scored at least two points.
"It was a whole team effort tonight," said Gauronsky. "We don't rely on one girl to do everything. Everyone who comes into the game can contribute."
The win moves Pleasant Valley to 5-2 (2-0) on the season. Despite losing their top two scorers from last year, and only having one senior, Gauronsky is pleased with where her team is at right now.
"We are pretty excited with where we stand," Gauronsky said. "We had a big win early on against Northampton and I think that gave us some confidence. We are still getting used to not having Kelly (Harris) or Amber (Chieffo) and are trying not to use that as our crutch any more.
"I think we are getting more comfortable in our roles now and that's very important. They are gaining confidence too and that's always a good thing."
Ramirez 4-1-2-9, Lippold 2-0-0-5, K. Poje 1-2-2-4, Swinton 4-3-4-11, B. Poje 1-0-1-3, Asher 0-0-0-0, Rodriguez 0-0-0-0, Maldanado 1-0-0-2. TOTALS: 13-6-9-34.
Cisluycis 1-2-2-5, Dorney 2-1-4-5, Dekmar 3-8-10-14, Fields 1-0-0-2, Craig 2-2-2-6, Meckes 2-0-0-4, Krcic 2-0-0-4, Miller 1-0-0-2, Russell 2-0-0-4. TOTALS: 16-13-18-46.
ES South 7 9 11 7 - 34
Pleasant Vy 15 8 11 12 - 46
Three-pointers: ES - Lippold, B. Poje; PV - Cisluycis.