Bears hang on to beat Northampton
There was an uncertainty in the air as Pleasant Valley's Marquis Brown stepped to the free throw line.
The Bears' eight-point halftime lead had evaporated to two with 34 seconds remaining in the game as Brown stepped to the line for the front end of a one-and-one. The big sophomore hadn't played particularly well over the last few minutes and had head coach Ken Piontkowski wondering what was about to happen.
"I didn't know what to expect to be honest," admitted Piontkowski. "One thing I did like though was that he was into it. He steered in the first one and when it went in he let out a little fist pump. He knew how much it mattered.
"I was proud of him. He had made a few bad decisions up until the point, but he stepped up when it mattered and knocked them down. This is all part of the growing process for him."
Senior Nick Stanovick followed with two big free throws a couple of seconds later to ice the game for Pleasant Valley, as the Bears picked up a big non-conference win over Northampton 40-32.
Pleasant Valley led 9-6 after one quarter when Stanovick, who was held scoreless in the first quarter, began to heat up. He scored 11 of his game-high 16 points in the quarter as the Bears grabbed a 24-16 halftime edge.
"I was happy, but at the same time I wasn't," said Piontkowski on his team's first-half play. "I was happy we had the lead, but we didn't box out very well. We gave them way too many second chances. Then I thought there were times where we were slow and sluggish on offense and not reversing it quickly enough."
Northampton then went on a 7-0 spurt to start the second half. Pleasant Valley made some mistakes and missed some looks as its lead slowly began to dwindle. Stanovick's three-pointer late in the quarter put an end to the Bears' five-minute scoring drought. Still, it was their only bucket of the quarter against the Kids' 2-3 zone.
Northampton tied the game at 30-30 early in the final quarter, but Selwyn Wright drove hard to the bucket and finished on a nice up-and-under layup to give the Bears the lead. Brown then dropped one in for two off a nice pass on the very next possession to push the lead to four.
The Kids' Curt Rosenbauer answered with a clutch jumper from the top of the key with just under a minute to go to close the gap to two. After that, Northampton started fouling and the Bears iced the game fro the line.
"If we did all of that with four minutes left and put the game away, I would feel better," Piontkowski said. "To wait until there was a minute and a half left before we started to make plays isn't good. For a little bit there I felt like I was just waiting for something to go wrong. I would have liked to see us make some big plays a little earlier.
"Then again it is better than losing. It's always better when you can learn lessons from wins instead of losses."
Morris 0-1-2-1, Holubowski 3-2-3-9, George 0-0-0-0, Williams 1-1-2-3, Rosenbauer 1-0-0-2, Huber 6-1-5-13, Cook 0-0-0-0, Kulp 1-2-2-4. TOTALS: 12-7-14-32.
Stanovick 3-8-8-16, Wright 4-1-2-9, Brown 4-3-6-11, Guadagna 0-0-0-0, Shivers 0-0-0-0, Howard 1-0-2-2, Dekmar 1-0-0-2, Gerolimatos 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 13-12-18-40.
Northampton 6 10 8 8 - 32
Pleasant Vy 9 15 3 13 - 40
Three-pointers: Northampton - Holubowski 1; Pleasant Valley - Stanovick 2.