Pleasantville surges past Valhalla
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VALHALLA, N.Y. – First-year Pleasantville coach Chris Welsh couldn’t believe what he was seeing. His team’s 5-0 start to the season was predicated on toughness and hustle. It’s what the Panthers have been known for, yet Valhalla was out-toughing and out-hustling Pleasantville during the first half of the rivals’ afternoon meeting at Kensico School on Tuesday. The Panthers even found themselves down a point early in the third quarter.
Cue the hustle plays.
A devastating two-minute press, and the hot hand of junior point guard Jack Eisenberg, powered a 15-0 Pleasantville run that led to a 66-47 victory over the Vikings.
“We knew that we needed to play with more intensity after halftime,” said Eisenberg, who scored 19 points. “Then, I hit that first shot, and I stopped thinking about it and just took open looks.”
Eisenberg buried 15 points in the third quarter, while the Panthers totaled 25 points as a team. Most of the damage was done in a two-minute span starting with a dominant press led by Glen Robinson. The long-armed forward tipped passes, created turnovers, and came away with eight steals from the top of the press.
“That performance right there was about him playing really hard; Glen Robinson just doesn’t have a motor that stops,” Welsh said. “He’s got a great amount of energy, his intensity is the spark that makes us go.”
Robinson’s spark and Eisenberg’s shooting quickly changed Pleasantville’s brief 25-24 deficit into a 45-27 lead as Eisenberg hit three 3-pointers. Pleasantville finished with eight 3-pointers as a team. Charlie Montgomery hit three of them and finished with 15 points.
Valhalla had a big first half on the boards and at the free-throw line to keep them in the game as long as possible. Terrance Tribble finished with a game-high 21 points and made 6-of-7 free throws. Mark Kinnally had a good day on the offensive glass and finished with eight points.
It was Pleasantville’s halftime intensity change that ended up being the difference in the game.
“That was the worst half of basketball we played all year and I let the guys know that at halftime,” Welsh said. “We’ve beat some good teams like Somers and Eastchester because of how hard we play and I didn’t see that early on today.”
Pleasantville moved to 6-0 on the year, which doubles its win total from a season ago when the Panthers went 3-15.
“I knew these kids could play basketball because they were coached by a legendary coach in Bob Delle Bovi,” Welsh said. “I didn’t know if they could come together as a team though. We decided as a team to erase last year altogether and restore this to what Pleasantville basketball has always been.”
Email John Malone at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MSGV_Malone