Bears pull off upset over PM West
It's funny how much things can change in the sport of basketball, especially within three days time.
Following a loss to Lehighton on Tuesday night in which the Indians snapped a 59-game Mountain Valley Conference losing streak at the expense of Pleasant Valley, the Bears' basketball team couldn't feel any lower.
By Friday night they were feeling the exact opposite.
For the first time since 2006, Pleasant Valley defeated Pocono Mountain West 45-43. Even without their leading scorer in Nick Stanovick, who was lost for the year due to a foot injury, the Bears played inspired and confident basketball for an entire 32 minutes and didn't let the Panthers pressure them out of their comfort zone.
"It's kind of mindboggling to think about," said Pleasant Valley head coach Ken Piontkowski on this week's events. "Whether we overlooked Lehighton or not, we came out Tuesday and didn't play well at all. Tuesday night was an awfully long night for all of us.
"Then tonight, whether West overlooked us or not, we came out and played arguably the best basketball we have played all year. While I don't understand why we don't come out with this much intensity every night, when our guys see that 'West' on the jersey they usually come out ready to go. Tonight we finally started strong and ended strong."
Pleasant Valley (10-10, 7-3) indeed came out strong, as the Bears took a 14-12 first-quarter lead thanks to five points from both Selwyn Wright and Dre Shivers. Marquis Brown added four points while playing great defense and helped secure rebound after rebound.
The back-and-forth play continued into the second. Unlike most teams do against West's pressure in the full and half court, the Bears limited their turnovers and never trailed in the first half.
"I told the guys that they were playing great," said Piontkowski at halftime. "We weren't backing down offensively or defensively. Sometimes with West's length they can get up on you and pressure you into things you don't want to do. Tonight everyone that stepped on that court was not intimidated and did what they had to do."
After the Bears opened the second half on a 5-0 spurt thanks to Wright, the Panthers answered with an 8-2 run of their own and took their first lead of the night at 32-31. Still, Pleasant Valley stayed composed and went into the fourth down just two.
The fourth quarter became Shivers time, as the now starting point guard scored eight of his 16 points down the stretch. Following a Wright three-pointer to tie things up at 39 with 2:50 to go, Shivers stuck a three-pointer from the corner to give the locals a 42-39 lead. He then sank two free throws down the stretch to put the Bears in front for good.
"This win is big for us because we have been in a slump," said Shivers. "Tonight we came together as a team. We wouldn't die tonight. Sometimes when we get punched in the mouth we die. Tonight I feel like we stepped up in clutch moments and took down the giant.
"This wins shows us our capability. We shouldn't have doubt any more when we step on the court. We can beat anybody on any given night. It's all about heart and believing in each other."
Piontkowski is just looking for some consistency.
"It is kind of frustrating at times," said Piontkowski. "Some nights it looks like we have never played basketball before. Then we have nights like tonight where we play great and beat one of the better teams in our district. Even with the loss of Stanovick, I am hoping this win shows us that we can still compete if we play smart and with a lot of confidence."
Brice 2-2-2-7, Collins 2-0-0-5, Vick 5-0-0-13, Amoroso 4-4-7-12, Dixon 0-0-0-0, Vines 0-2-2-2, Wiggins 2-0-0-4, Hardy 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 15-8-11-43.
Brown 2-0-0-4, Jones 1-1-3-3, Howard 2-0-0-5, Shivers 5-3-5-16, Wright 7-1-1-17, Dekmar 0-0-0-0, Gerolimatos 0-0-0-0, Zwack 0-0-0-0, Getz 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 17-5-9-45.
PM West 12 12 12 7 - 43
Pleasant Vy 14 10 10 11 - 45
Three-Pointers: PM - Vick 3, Brice, Collins; PV - Shivers 3, Wright 2, Howard.