V845 Notebook: Section and state standouts, a winless team and an undefeated team

First things first…

On Friday, I covered a Section 9 Class A final between Roosevelt and Saugerties. Before I walked in the gym, I overheard a woman in the lobby say this to someone else:

“I’ve never seen a good girls game. Have you ever seen a good girls game?”

I didn’t follow her to see if she was on her way in or on her way out. But had she watched the proceeding game, her opinion on the matter may have changed. There was Roosevelt, raining in 3s from every direction, and the Saugerties forwards, forcing their way to the hoop for contested rebounds and layups.

When the game was over, there was the pure emotion from a Roosevelt starting five made up entirely seniors experiencing a section title for the first time after four years with the program. And there was a Saugerties roster, comprised of majority seniors, heartbroken that a journey beginning in fifth grade had come to an end.

If the fast-paced action on the court, from the opening tip to the final buzzer and then to the award ceremony following the game, didn’t excite you, then it’s not that you don’t appreciate girls basketball. It’s that you don’t appreciate basketball. Period.

Standout performances

Amidst the emotions accompanied with the basketball postseason’s thrill of winning and pain of a season’s finality is another personal milestone to note: Goshen’s Erin Smith scored 11 points in the Section 9-A semifinal on Thursday, eclipsing the 1,000-point mark for her career in a 46-40 loss to Saugerties.

Roosevelt’s Kelsea Demelis hit five 3-pointers Friday in a 60-46 Section 9 Class A victory over Saugerties. Four came in the first quarter and her fifth, in the fourth quarter, was her 1,000th point of her career. Her teammates knew the significance of the shot, as she was enveloped in hugs from all the players on the bench. That was with 6:28 left to play in the game. After the game ended, the Roosevelt girls celebrated yet again.

Middletown’s Joel Marrero scored a career-high 13 points in an 82-81 victory over Newburgh Thursday in a Section 9-AA semifinal, including a game-winning putback at the buzzer to win the game. He also pulled down 13 rebounds.

New Paltz swimmer Leo Kuyl completed his senior season with a pair of second place finishes in the 100-yard freestyle (45.48) and the 50-yard freestyle (20.63) at the state meet. Kuyl will be swimming at Bucknell next year.

‘Stop worrying about the negativity’

This week, I wrote about the Monticello girls basketball team, which didn’t win a game all season. It’s easy to look at a team with no wins and assume that nothing went right. But after talking to the coach and a couple players, I found the opposite was true. Here are some extended quotes from my conversation with Monticello head coach Ryan Jasper.

On the challenges of competing with some of the best teams in Section 9:
“The tough part here is that as an (Class) A school you play such tough competition. They’re so well coached and their programs are so excellent that it’s hard when you’re starting from scratch really to be able to compete with them and it’s tough when you go in and you’re losing by 30 or 40 and the other coaches are doing the best they can to be sportsmanlike.”

On how Jasper kept his team from getting discouraged:
“We move forward. And when you’re playing Goshen, and when you’re playing Cornwall, and when you’re playing Wallkill, which are established programs from the modified level up to the varsity level, you’re not going to be competitive with them with a bunch of kids that you just picked off of a bunch of different teams that have never played before and that was explained to them and the goal has always been, we need to get something out of this game.”

On the team’s midseason visit to Syracuse:
“Not many high school basketball players get to experience something like that, especially when you have kids that are new to the game. You’re as close to a professional level event that you can get. I just think it was a great experience and the kids certainly had a blast. They’re all Syracuse fans now.”

On his message to his players after the final game of the season:
“If you guys believe in each other and have each other’s backs, you’re playing a game that revolves around hard work and preparation and momentum is such a huge part of it. Stop worrying about the negativity and every time something good happens, you’ve got to build off that because it becomes bigger and bigger and bigger and a bunch of little things add up to be a big thing and that can be positive or negative, so it’s up to you which direction you want to go.”

On the future:
“It’s a long road ahead, but I’ll tell you what. The kids who had played before were so patient and never complained once about the kids who haven’t played before. It was just everybody was happy that we had enough to play for once which is crazy saying that for a school that’s the size of ours but you know, with the young kids, they never got discouraged. They showed up every day, and the newer kids. It was a great mix of kids and the biggest thing they need is an offseason because it’s difficult when you have kids who are so new to something.”

“Our record will be 0-18 but we made tremendous strides from the beginning of the season until now.”

‘It’s about how you respond to it’

At the start of last week, it was officially announced that former Monroe-Woodbury head football coach Ryan Baldock would be taking on the same role at defending state champion Cornwall. Baldock spent three years at Monroe-Woodbury, and he is replacing Eric Holzapple, who stepped down after last season to resume his role as an assistant. Below is a bit from my conversation with Baldock that didn’t make the story:

On the state of Monroe-Woodbury football:
“That program has been very good for a lot of years before I was there and it’s going to continue to be very good for a lot of years to come.”

On telling his Monroe-Woodbury players he was departing for Cornwall:
“It was a difficult message to deliver, but at the end of the day this was a family decision for me.”

On how the Monroe-Woodbury community responded to his move:
“They’ve been nothing but supportive of our family decision. The people of Monroe are just like the people in Cornwall.”

On his expectations for Cornwall:
“We are going to be as prepared as humanly possible and we are going to work harder than any other program in the state.”

On what he’s learned from his father, Thomas, who is a two-time heart attack and cancer survivor:
“The similarities between football and life and dealing with adversity and life isn’t about what happens to you, it’s about how you respond to it.”

Best sports journalism of the week

Tom Verducci for Sports Illustrated breaks down the Bryce Harper deal to the Phillies.

John Gonzalez for The Ringer travels to Greece to meet with exiled coach Rick Pitino.

Kyle Austin for MLive.com on Michigan State’s Kenny Goins’ relationship with his mother.

Ben Strauss for Washington Post examines the evolution of Deadspin.

Brian Hamilton for The Athletic spends time with Dan Dakich, the broadcaster some people love and others love to hate.

Pedro Moura for The Athletic profiles pitcher Joe Kelly and childhood pain he had to overcome.

Dan Pompeii for Bleacher Report writes about the one mistake Dee Ford won’t let define him.

Brendan Quinn for The Athletic embeds himself with the Michigan basketball team for three days and winds up with a story he didn’t expect.

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