When a team that is searching for an identity plays a more established team that has controlled a conference for the last couple of years, it must do all of the small things correctly in order to have a chance at winning.
Unfortunately for the Pleasant Valley boys' basketball team, that is exactly what it didn't do for the majority of Friday night's game with Pocono Mountain West.
Pleasant Valley played well for the first four minutes and was hanging tough with the Panthers from Pocono Mountain West. However after that, the Bears missed a handful of lay-ups, gave up a number of offensive rebounds, committed live-ball turnovers, and saw their two leading scorers combine for just seven points the rest of the half. Pleasant Valley continued to fight into the fourth quarter, but fell in the end by a score of 59-42 in Mountain Valley Conference play.
"I thought in the beginning of the game it looked like what I was hoping it would look like," said Pleasant Valley head coach Ken Piontkowski. "We were getting offensive rebounds and it looked like we were going to shove it right down their throats. We ran our press break pretty well and we were slicing down the court. It looked like how I wanted it to look for about four minutes."
Bryan Sharpe buried a three-pointer on Pleasant Valley's first possession to get the game rolling. Play was then back-and-forth for the next couple of minutes, as each team was always within two points.
It was around the 3:30 mark that West started to stretch its lead. Although the Bears only committed five turnovers in the first quarter, most of them were of the live-ball variety and allowed the Panthers to quickly push the ball in transition. That led to some lay-ups and easy points.
The trend continued into the second quarter. Pleasant Valley drew to within four (24-20) midway through the quarter, but allowed West to hit a three-pointer and a lay-up on consecutive possessions to open things back up. The Panthers went on to outscore Pleasant Valley by six and took a 33-22 halftime lead.
At that point the small things weren't going the Bears' way. They had missed five lay-ups, allowed West to grab seven offensive rebounds, and saw their leading scorer in Marquis Brown post just two points. On top of that, their second leading scorer in Devon Howard was just 2-for-8 from the field and 1-for-4 from the line.
"Even though West scored a little too much, I think it could have kept going where they had a run and then we had a run," said Piontkowski. "But after that we didn't execute a couple of things and they got a couple of easy buckets. I don't know if we just started out with that nervous energy and got flat after that, but we kind of went in the tank toward the end of the first."
The Bears scratched and clawed for as long as they could and got to within 12 with six minutes to go in the game, however the Panthers kept the locals at bay with timely buckets and free throws.
No Pleasant Valley player scored in double figures. Howard led the team with nine points, while Brown added eight.
POCONO MOUNTAIN WEST
Dixon 3-3-5-9, Vick 7-2-3-18, Cooper 2-1-3-5, Miles 1-1-2-4, Howard 1-0-1-2, Diaz 2-0-2-2, Archer 0-0-0-0, Wiggins 3-3-6-9, Baptiste 0-2-4-2, Hardy 2-3-6-8. TOTALS: 20-15-32-59.
Brown 4-0-0-8, Howard 2-5-10-9, Jones 2-0-0-4, Sharpe 1-0-0-3, Pazienza 2-0-2-4, Hosier 2-0-0-5, Hrbek 1-0-3-2, Skutnik 1-0-0-2, Deegan 0-2-2-2, Neubert 0-0-0-0, Robinson 1-1-2-3, Helfrich 0-0-0-0, Mikulski 0-0-0-0, Aulder 0-0-0-0, Roden 0-0-0-0, Cunningham 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 16-8-19-42.
PM West 18 15 10 16 - 59
Pleasant Vy 13 9 8 12 - 42
Three-pointers: PM West - Vick 2, Miles, Hardy; Pleasant Vy. - Sharpe, Hosier.