You can find my game story on Spring Valley’s 73-63 win over Pearl River this afternoon below. I’ll have a recap of Tappan Zee-Albertus in a bit.
PEARL RIVER — With big man Kai Mitchell on the bench with foul trouble for much of the second half, Spring Valley faced exactly the type of test it needed Saturday. The Tigers, riding a 12-game winning streak, weren’t only on the road, they were forced to close down their best player.
Rather than collapse under the pressure, Spring Valley finished just as strong as it started, finalizing a 73-63 victory at Pearl River that suggested a level of poise not often displayed by a team with three sophomore starters.
“Remember early in the season when I said the best thing to happen with sophomores is that they’re not like sophomores at the end of the year?” Tigers coach Willie Worsley said. “Well, they’re not sophomores anymore. This was a very friendly but hostile environment, but our kids hung in there without Kai. They came together.”
Mitchell, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, left his mark with 17 points and eight rebounds, but he fouled out with 2:18 to play and his team ahead 67-54. Pearl River quickly cut its deficit to seven, but sophomore Rickey McGill (13 points, 5 assists) and senior Davonte O’Neill (13 points) were among those who prevented a collapse.
“It was definitely a tougher game that what we would’ve liked to have played, but we kept our heads,” O’Neill said. “I give kudos to the team for that one. We’re not normally known for that.”
In fact, Spring Valley (14-1) won its 13th straight by forcing putting Pearl River (9-7) under pressure. The Tigers forced 19 turnovers, some of which prevented the Pirates from gathering momentum toward a comeback.
“It seemed like we were on the fringe, but it seemed like they’d either get a score or we’d have a turnover,” Pearl River coach Jerry Houston Jr. said. “We could never quite get control of the game.”
Sophomore Jack Byrnes hit four 3-pointers and scored 13 points for Pearl River. Senior Tom Davis added seven, but he fouled out in the fourth quarter.
“We just played defense and kept going,” O’Neill said. “Coach told us, if we didn’t keep playing hard, they were going to take the game for us. So we kept playing hard.”
No one more than senior Fern Durand, who drew the assignment of guarding Kevin Degnan. Although Degnan had 22 points and 16 rebounds, the versatile 6-foot-7 junior needed to work to shoot 5 for 13.
Durand also scored chipped in 11 points.
“He did a very good job on their big kid,” Worsley said.
Spring Valley still has three games remaining, including a showdown at home Monday with North Rockland that will likely have league title implications.
“This builds a lot of confidence,” O’Neill said. “We have to get ready for the playoffs.”