Blind Brook buries Valhalla
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VALHALLA, N.Y. — It’s been a tough season for Blind Brook, but it’s hard to tell from looking at the Trojans’ 11-3 record. With multiple starters out due to injury and various other reasons all season long, Blind Brook is still not at full strength at the end of January. Leading scorer and point guard Sam Adler is out with a head injury, and starter Jack Jamilkowski is just getting to full strength after an injury of his own.
On Monday afternoon at Valhalla, with a possible share of the league title on the line, Blind Brook weathered the storm like they have all season and pulled away from the Vikings (10-5) to post a 46-26 victory.
“It’s been a weird year for us,” Antoine Saliba said. “I’ve been on the varsity for four seasons now and this is definitely the most obstacles we’ve had to overcome in my time on the varsity. But when someone goes out, other guys fill the roles, and we just doing what we have to do to win.”
Saliba did his part in the fourth quarter. The senior forward scored seven of his game-high 17 in the final frame to pull away from a tough Valhalla squad. The defining play of the game was an odd-man break that Saliba converted after some nifty passing from guards Jeff Babat and Jeff Visoky. The layup gave Blind Brook a commanding 34-20 fourth-quarter lead.
“I’m really happy how our young guys are stepping up with all our injuries,” Saliba said. “Jeff Visoky is just a sophomore and you can tell that he’s going to be a great player with some of the plays he makes.”
One of those plays by Visoky ended the third quarter and any hopes of a Valhalla comeback. With a 10-point lead cut down to five with just minutes left in the third quarter, Blind Brook turned up its defensive pressure. Up 27-20, Visoky drove baseline for a layup and was fouled. He hit the free throw to put the Trojans up 30-20 heading into the fourth quarter.
“I saw that my man played off me, so I just went hard to the basket and made a play,” Visoky said. “I always wanted to contribute this year on the varsity, and I’m glad I can help out.”
Valhalla hung tough for the first three quarters behind a big defensive effort from Terrance Tribble, who finished with nine points, 19 rebounds, two steals and a block. The hustle from the Vikings on the defensive end kept Blind Brook uncomfortable in its half court set for the majority of the game. Valhalla took a brief lead in the second quarter behind Miro Ronac’s spark off the bench. The sophomore guard hit three straight 3-pointers in the second quarter to turn a 10-4 deficit into a 14-13 lead. Blind Brook closed the half with a 7-0 run to wrestle control right back.
“They’re a tough team, and we were definitely struggling offensively,” Blind Brook coach Mike Welsh said. “I felt like we weren’t finishing layups too well in the first half. A six-point lead could’ve easily been 15 points, but we knew what we had to do to turn it around.”
Valhalla will try to close out the regular season on a high note and secure a home playoff game. Meanwhile, Blind Brook will continue to get healthy and ready for the stretch run.
“We haven’t really been full strength the whole year,” Welsh said. “I think it’s actually created more depth for us though and it will help us in the end.”
Follow John Malone on Twitter @MSGV_Malone