Valley Central’s girls’ basketball team opened the season Wednesday, Nov. 30 with their hosting of the 18th annual Corinne Feller Memorial Tip-Off Tournament.
And it went well for the Lady Vikings under first-year coach Randy Axtell against Burke in the tournament opener. Megan Roell had a double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds as Valley Central cruised over Burke 54-23.
That game followed Marlboro’s downing of Wallkill 53-39 in their tournament opener.
In the final Friday, the offenses went to work early as Marlboro led 19-14 after the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Dukes tightened their defense and sent Erin Cooney to the foul line four times, and she made those four shots. The Dukes also pushed the Lady Vikings into mistakes and one turnover after another.
Marlboro led 46-32 at the half and kept that distance in the second half to win 72-58. Marlboro’s Talaya Lewis, who played on the Dukes’ state Class B final four contender two years ago, was named the tournament MVP.
“Wednesday night we played very well. We got into foul trouble early tonight, and it threw us off kilter,” said Axtell. “They put us into a panic.”
Cooney led the Lady Vikings with 14 points, going eight for eight from the foul line. Deanna Murdock scored 13 points for Valley Central, and Maddie Feller, with 12 points, completed the trio in double figures. Roell, though, was limited to four third-quarter points in the final.
“Marlboro is a solid team. They have a lot of good shooters. They were a better team, no doubt about it,” said Axtell.
During a scrimmage at Pine Bush, Wallkill’s A.J. Higby thought facing Marlboro in the opener would give him a better understanding of what kind of team he might have this season.
And the Dukes challenged the Panthers to advance to the final.
“It could have been a lot worse,” he said.
Against Burke in the consolation game, Wallkill rebounded with a 61-36 victory. Ify Ezedum lead the Panthers with 15 points , aided by a pair of threes, and Kiera Power added 13 points as Higby deployed a defensive scheme to his liking.
“I was able to go full-court man. I don’t know if that’s where I will be able to go,” he said.
And at 1-1, it’s early for a team assessment. Higby, though, understands what is needed if the team wants to progress.
“I know where we are at. We are middle of the road at best,” he said “If there are opportunities to shoot, we may make one once and while. But if they don’t start working together, we have no shot here.”
By Bond Brungard