EASTON – The Pleasant Valley boys' basketball team has been up and down all season long.
Not only would the Bears win a few games in a row only to lose the next couple, they would also go from hot to cold in seemingly an instant during games.
So was the case once again in Pleasant Valley's District 11 Class AAAA first round matchup with Easton on Wednesday night. The Bears got down early to the Rovers only to fight back and take a lead heading into halftime. However, just like that, the locals went ice cold from the field and didn't take care of the ball. Easton used its 17-5 run in the third quarter to blow away Pleasant Valley, 51-31.
"Tonight was pretty much a microcosm of our season," said Pleasant Valley head coach Ken Piontkowski. "We would play well for spurts, and then go completely in the tank for the next couple of minutes. You can't do that in the AAAA playoffs and expect to win. Any team that you are going to see at this time of the year is going to be good and is capable of taking advantage of your missed opportunities."
Pleasant Valley played well to start and held a slim 4-2 lead for the first part of the first quarter. With hopes of jumpstarting his team a little earlier, the Bears' Selwyn Wright drove down the middle of the lane and flushed it down for two. Easton called a timeout to talk about things while its crowd was left stunned.
The Rovers responded quickly though with an 8-0 run thanks in part to five offensive rebounds. The Bears would get a bucket from Devon Howard and a free throw from Wright to close within three by the end of the first.
Pleasant Valley then grabbed the momentum in the second and stormed back behind two three-pointers from point guard Dre Shivers. His first triple capped an early 7-2 run for the Bears that gave them a 14-12 lead at the 5:00 mark. His second three ball helped his team close the half with a 17-16 lead.
"We were feeling good at halftime," Piontkowski said. "They guys were giving it their all and really busting their butts. We got down early and fought back like we have in the past, but we knew our work was far from done. Unfortunately, also like we have done in the past, we came out of a break and couldn't get anything going."
The Bears came out in the third quarter and went 2-for-8 from the field with five turnovers. They couldn't find a way to secure most of the rebounds or the loose balls and watched as Easton opened the half on a 9-0 run. The Rovers finished the quarter with almost as many field goals (seven) as the Bears had field goal attempts (eight). Easton went on to score 17 in the frame behind six points from center Ryan Walsh.
Pleasant Valley refused to quit and tried to get things going in the fourth, but it was too little too late. Wright scored five in the fourth and finished with nine points. Center Marquis Brown led the team with 10 points.
Pleasant Valley ends the season with an 11-14 overall record. Though the Bears lost in the first round of districts for the second consecutive season, it can be looked at as a positive considering they last made the playoffs in 2006.
"It was quite an interesting season to say the least," said Piontkowski. "We had some great wins, some horrible losses and a bunch of injuries. It was definitely one of the most challenging seasons that I have had as a coach.
"It's nice to have enough wins to make the playoffs, but I still think we could have done better had a few things gone our way. Maybe we win a few more games with (Nick) Stanovick, John (Guadagna) and Sekou (Jones) all healthy for the entire season. We win one or two here and there and maybe we are playing a lower seed, but what can you do. I'm going to miss this bunch of seniors, but at the same time I am looking forward to the guys we have coming back."
Brown 4-2-3-10, Wright 2-5-11-9, Shivers 2-0-0-6, Dekmar 0-0-0-0, Jones 0-0-0-0, Howard 2-0-0-4, Getz 0-0-0-0, Gerolimatos 0-0-0-0, Zwack 0-0-0-0, Hosier 1-0-0-2, Neubert 0-0-0-0, Helfrich 0-0-0-0, Pazienza 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 11-7-14-31.
Walsh 5-3-7-13, Hightower 2-0-0-4, Jackson 0-0-0-0, Queen 1-1-1-3, Batista 2-0-0-4, Jenkins 0-0-0-0, Middleton 2-2-2-6, Holley 5-1-3-12, Aziz 0-0-0-0, Gaines 2-1-2-6, Oakley 1-0-0-2, Smith 0-1-2-1. TOTALS: 20-9-17-51.
Pleasant Vy 7 10 5 9 - 31
Easton 10 6 17 18 - 51
Three-Pointers: PV – Shivers 2; E – Holley 1, Gaines 1.