GRAHAMSVILLE--Two Sullivan County varsity girls basketball teams in competition against each other Thursday night at Grahamsville clearly showed why they have won Section IX playoff berths.
The Tri-Valley Lady Bears ended regular season competition with a win and a loss Wednesday and Thursday of last week and enter Section IX Class C sectional play tonight at 6 p.m. on their home court against the Bombers of Pine Plains.
Last Wednersday in league play Tri-Valley easily defeated Tuxedo 61-46 at home but Thursday at home in a non-league contest the Eldred Yellowjackets displayed why they posses a 15-3 overall record and top-seed in Section IX class D basketball by edging the Bears 55-51.
The Eldred-Tri-Valley game tunred out to be a classic battle with the Yellowjackets jumping out to a 16-4 first quarter lead and pushed a 16-point lead to 23-6 at the 6:23 mark of the second quarter.
The first quarter of play saw many errant passes by Tri-Valley who committed 20 turnovers in the first half of play with Eldred displaying a tough defense only allowing Danielle Shafarsky and Sara Dertinger to score two points each in the first eight minutes of play.
Eldred continued their scoring prowess in the second quarter outscoring Tri-Valley 21-18 to take a halftime lead of 37-22.
Outstanding individual play throughout this game was displayed by Eldred's point-guard Jordan Lepes who poured in 29 points and hit for 12 out of 16 foul shots. Lepes scored nine points in the first quarter, eight points in the second quarter, five in the third and seven in the fourth.
The second half of play for the Bears showed marked improvement as they outscored Eldred 14-9 in the third quarter and 15-9 in the fourth quarter to make the final eight minutes of play very interesting.
Trailing by 10 entering the start of the fourth quarter Bears senior point guard Caroline Martin, who was heavily pressured by Eldred defense throughout this game, scored two foul shots and shortly after at the 7:07 mark added two more foul shots cutting Eldred's lead down to 48-43 with a little over five minutes left on the clock.
With 3:47 showing on the clock and Eldred leading 48-44 Tri-Valley's Ashley Johnson was fouled and sank two free throws lowering Eldred's lead down to 48-46.
Eldred's Kelsey Collins sank a two-pointer pushing Eldred's lead back to four points (50-46) and with the Bears down by six at the 2:57 mark Tri-Valley called a timeout.
Eldred's Lepes in the final minutes of play sank three clutch foul shots as Eldred hung on for the victory.
The Yellowjackets enter Section IX Class D sectionals Wednesday March 3 at Sullivan County Community College at 5 p.m. against Livingston Manor. The winner will become the Section IX champion.
Lepes led Eldred with 29 points and Kelsey Collins added 12.
Shafarsky led Tri-Valley with 17, Dertinger added 13 and Ashley Johnson had 10.
Eldred's overall record with this win is 15-3 and undefeated in league play 6-0. Tri-Valley finishes with an overall record of 10-8 and 6-2 in league play.
Tri-Valley committed a total of 32 turnovers while Eldred had 26.
Eldred coach Ryan Jasper in post-game remarks said, I knew the tempo was going to pickup and we weathered the storm but this game could have gone either way.
Jasper in commenting on his high scoring point guard Jodan Lepes said, "you don't see a kid that talented very often." Lepes is credited with excellent ball handling and her quickness to the rim.
The Eldred coach when asked about the fourth quarter surge by Tri-Valley said, "nothing surprises me the way these kids (Tri-Valley) compete and because of Jason this is the reason why they are good every single year."
Jasper noted that Tri-Valley started slow this year, "but it wouldn't surprise me if they won the section the way Jason gets these kids fired up."
Tri-Valley coach Jason Closs noted "what it came down to is we just gave them a little too much and we did a lot of things in that first half to make it very difficult upon ourselves."
Closs commented on the first half turnovers saying, " against a good team you can't have that number of turnovers and a lot of those were because we were forcing passes."
"In the second half we cleaned up a lot of that and we got a lot more rebounds," Closs said.
In gaining the home court advantage in the first sectional game Closs indicated that playing on a court the team is familiar with helps and also the home crowd and support and not having to travel are all beneficial to Tri-Valley.
The Tri-Valley 61-46 win against Tuxedo Wednesday saw the Bears strike early outscoring Tuxedo in the first quarter 16-6 and 15-10 in the second quarter off the indivudeal scoring efforts of Sara Dertinger with 8 and 9 points by Caroline Martin.
Martin lit it up in the second half with 9 points to finish with a game high 22 points.
Tri-Valley outscored Tuxedo 17-16 in the third quarter and with many of the bench players seeing action in the fourth quarter Tuxedo won that quarter 14-13.
Martin led the scoring with 22 followed by Sandra Alemany with 10 and eight points each from Ashley Johnson, Danielle Shafarsky and Sara Dertinger.
Alison Toscano had 13 points for Tuxedo and Sheryl Martin had 10.
Tri-Valley had 18 turnovers to Tuxedo's 16.
Tuxedo coach Dave Powers was not available for comment.
Coach Closs with the team recording their sixth league win following their loss earlier in the week to Chester said, "our team bounces back very well although their disappointed with a loss they kind of put it behind them and go back to work."
Closs while commenting on the Tuxedo team praised Alison Toscano saying "she is just fantastic as she is able to shoot the three-pointer, post up and pretty much can play defense against anyone and she just creates problems."
THREE PICTURES, ONE FROM THE TV-TUXEDO GAME AND 2 FROM THE TV-ELDRED GAME
Tri-Valley's senior point guard Caroline Martin (32) shoots for two of her game high 22 points over Tuxedo's Amanda Agostini (10) in the Bears 61-46 win Wednesday night.
Eldred's scoring ace Jordan Lepes (22) prepares a pass over Tri-Valley's Sandra Alemany (25) in Eldred's 55-51 win Thursday at Grahamsville. Lepes finished the night with 29 points.