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Friday, February 26, 2021

Sports > High School >> Basketball

Section 9 Class A Boys Basketball final:

The last full measure of devotion: Monticello gives its all but falls in final seconds of OT to New Paltz

Mar 9, 2020

By Richard Ross - reporter/photographer

Monticello senior captain Josh Gattling scores over New Paltz guard Toney Drewnowski. Gattling ended up with a game- high 28 points and 1067 for his career.
New Paltz 69
Monticello 67

NEWBURGH -- In any of life's challenging endeavors, all we can ask of ourselves is that we give the best we can deliver. Former UCLA Coach John Wooden, the late Wizard of Westwood, said it best: “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”
By that standard the 16-7 Monticello Panthers came to define a true exemplar of success as they delivered an outstanding season rife with its share of remarkably courageous moments and big wins against daunting foes. In the end in search of their first title since 2002, they came up just short of upsetting two-time defending champion New Paltz in a hair-raising down-to-the wire 69-67 overtime loss at Mount St. Mary College in Newburgh on Saturday.
For the noble, gritty and lovable Montis, the heartbreak of losing the Class A Sectional title by dint of a final three pointer by Huguenot junior Jackson Soper with under a minute remaining in overtime, will long remain a moment they will look back on with unbridled sadness.
But hopefully in time the pride of what they accomplished will supplant that disappointment.
To say they had their chances to win is to deploy the 20/20 vision of hindsight. In any game there are always moments, which in retrospect, might have altered the outcome.
This was a clash of epic proportions, a game that was tied six times and featured five lead changes and one in which the Montis nearly won in regulation after trailing by eight points with 6:09 remaining and taking the 62-61 lead by dint of Josh Gattling's bucket and made free throw with 2:41 left on the clock.
But credit New Paltz with an equal resiliency, relentless will and timely execution. Monticello had owned a nine-point lead with 6:35 to go back in the third quarter but New Paltz reversed the polarity by closing out the stanza on a 16-5 run.
Throughout the game they hit the big shots when they needed them most. By game's end they had nailed nine three-pointers. After Gattling secured the one-point lead in the fourth quarter, New Paltz freshman Tony Drewnowski was fouled on a three-point shot and sank only one of three which tied the game at 62-all.
Monticello came down and scored again but Soper hit the mark the other way to tie it up again. He missed a free throw that might have secured the NP win, but the miss sent the game into overtime with the teams tied at 64-all. His game-winning three in the final moments of the OT would prove to be his redemption for missing that one from the stripe.
Monti senior Josh Gattling's heroics were beyond the pale. He would score 15 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter taking the team on his back and affording them that 62-61 lead. New Paltz would come back to tie it with a free throw and then Soper's late game-saving bucket.
In OT, Trevon Gray gave the Montis the early one-point edge with one of two from the stripe but the Panthers failed to capitalize on two New Paltz turnovers: a travel and an illegal screen. Both trips up the floor were empty for the Montis who would only manage to score three points in the OT period. Damorn Hall-Rucker staked the team to a 67-64 lead with a floater with 1:21 left in OT.
Gattling missed a three and the Huguenots answered with a shot from junior Jeffrey Reynoso-Robinson to bring NP within one at 67-66. Another Monti shot failed to connect and the ball went to Soper who canned the big three for the 69-67 lead with 29 seconds left in the game.
Gattling missed on his next attempt and a loose ball ended in New Paltz hands who ended up nearly running out the clock. Gattling's floor-length heave fell short and New Paltz players erupted into celebration for having won their third straight Class A crown, something not done since Section 9 expanded to the five classes that have since included Class AA. That was in the 2003-04 season.
New Paltz improved to 17-6 and will face the Section IV champion in the first round of the regionals. They are still in search of a win in the state tournament.
Monticello got off to a rocky start turning the ball over after controlling the tip and watching Soper can an easy layup.
Failing to inbound the ball within the five second allotment proved another early miscue, but Monticello stormed back from the early 9-2 attempted knockout punch to tie the game but then trail 16-14 at the end of the first stanza. They then outscored New Paltz 20-11 to take a 34-27 lead at the half. Alonzo Stergis was exemplary in the early going. He ended up with 12 points. New Paltz would come back to double up the Montis 18-9 in the third quarter, which gave them a 45-43 lead heading into the final frame.
Ultimately the Huguenots' three-point shooting in the fourth quarter neutralized Gattling's superb efforts which almost catapulted Coach Chris Russo's best team to the win. The Panthers were 11-14 from the stripe, a blistering 78 percent. New Paltz was six-for-10 from the line (60 percent).
Coach Russo summed up his pride and love for his players: “This was a tough loss. We had a couple of chances but just came up short. We had a great trap there at the end of regulation. We had fouls to give but we don't foul in that situation. They got one over the top and that happens. It's a rough break on a great play that we made but it didn't turn out our way.
“I love these guys,” he continued. “They're so resilient. They could have folded a couple of times and they didn't. We were down by eight and needed to get back and they did that and gave us the lead. That's the kind of team we've been all year. Every time we needed to get something good or have something happen, we were able to make a play. Someone always stepped up. I loved coaching these guys and I'm going to miss all those seniors. They've been with us for so long. They worked so hard to get themselves in a position to win. I told them it's an unfair ending because of how well they played and how hard they worked.”
Russo credited New Paltz. “They played great,” he said.
Memories fade as the years go on but rest assured, the pride registered by the players, the coaching staff and the community of how the Montis fought through this game, as well as the nostalgia about this special team, will endure for years to come. Teams like this don't come along very often and this game was all you could ever ask from the drama of high school basketball.

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