Here is Nancy Haggerty’s story on Spring Valley’s win at previously undefeated North Rockland.
NORTH ROCKLAND When halfway through the first quarter here Spring Valley had just four points, it looked like it was going to be a long night for a very young Tigers squad.
But consider the early going the cover on a book. And what’s that old saying about covers and books?
Call it an upset or call it a coming-of-age declaration but, by any name, the Spring Valley boys basketball team showed it belonged with the big boys, defeating previously unbeaten North Rockland 57-45 Friday night.
Guard Rickey McGill, one of Spring Valley’s five starting sophomores, hit for 20 points and center Kia Mitchell had 14, nine coming in the fourth quarter.
But it was Spring Valley’s defense and North Rockland’s Frigidaire-cold shooting that was the story of the game.
The Red Raiders were, in part, a woeful 10 for 27 from the free-throw line.
“We can’t beat them like that. … I knew we weren’t going 18-0. But we picked a terrible night to do it. But that’s how it rolls,” North Rockland coach Chris Roff said.
Spring Valley, which trailed 11-8 at the end of one quarter, went into halftime with an 18-17 lead, then extended that to 38-28 at the end of three quarters.
Mitchell, who termed himself passive during a two-point first half, credited coach Willie Worsley with motivating him and his teammates at halftime.
“Our coach tells us we’re down by 10, so we come out strong and tough,” he said.
Spring Valley took control of the quarter after North Rockland’s Alex Ramirez (who had seven points) hit a 3-pointer to knot the score at 24-24 with 6:05 remaining in the third.
Spring Valley’s lead expanded to 38-27 when Downing picked off a pass and threw up a shot over two defenders late in the quarter.
Steals were a huge part of the game.
The teams traded turnovers to open the fourth quarter, and a steal by Ramirez with just under five minutes left led to a Elijah Tillman bucket off his own rebound cut Spring Valley’s lead to 42-39.
But Spring Valley settled down and never looked back after Mitchell drove the lane for two, was fouled by Tillman (15 points) and sank the free throw to push the lead back to five with 4:09 left.
Hakeem Gentles, who had a key rebound and score soon after, said after the game, “We stopped them by playing defense.”
Gentles, a 5-foot-7 guard who had several rebounds down the stretch, added, “It’s not how big you are. It’s about how big your heart is.”
Photos courtesy of John Meore/ The Journal News. For the entire gallery click here.