Here is my story on Putnam Valley holding on to win against Somers.
First, here is video of Jelani Bell-Isaac’s block during Somers’ final possession.
BREWSTER Putnam Valley coach Mike McDonnell might be in his first year with the Tigers, but he’s already had the stress of a longer tenured coach.
Despite being only a month into the season, Putnam Valley has had its fair share of close contests. Saturday proved to be no different, as the Tigers squeaked out a 62-61 win over Somers in one of six games played as part of the seventh annual Putnam Challenge at Brewster.
“It’s good for us,” said McDonnell of his team’s ability to win close games. “It’s not good for my mental well being.”
McDonnell’s players echoed similar sentiments after winning what was a back-and-forth affair throughout.
“A win is a win, but it’s too close for us,” said Putnam Valley junior guard Zack Nolan, who finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and was named the game’s MVP. “I’m just happy we got the win, though.”
Zach Coleman (18 points, five rebounds) gave Putnam Valley a 62-61 lead after hitting one of two free throws with 27 seconds remaining.
The Tigers’ defense stood strong during the Tuskers’ final offensive possession as Jelani Bell-Isaac blocked a Matt Moros (15 points, three assists) baseline drive in the waning seconds. Somers regained the ball with 0.8 second left, but was unable to get a shot off.
“I just love to get up and get the ball,” said Bell-Isaac, who finished with 12 points, five rebounds, four blocks and two steals. “People put shots up and I guess they just don’t see my long arms.”
Putnam Valley (7-1) had the chance to separate itself from Somers (2-6) throughout the game, but was unable to convert from the free-throw line. The Tigers hit only 20 of 33 free throws compared to Somers, which connected on 7 of 9.
In addition to poor free-throw shooting, McDonnell was disappointed with his team’s execution on offense.
“We’ve got to get good looks on a consistent basis,” McDonnell said. “It’s a little up and down. That will bite you in the end if you keep winning like that.”
That’s something the Tigers will look to correct as they hope to return to the County Center after falling in the Class B sectional final to Lourdes last season. Putnam Valley returned a majority of the players from last season.
“Getting to the County Center is one of the greatest feelings,” Nolan said. “Obviously, that motivates us. We just want to get back there again, and this time take the chip.”
Nolan said the team’s eight seniors are also a motivating factor.
“We want to get them the gold ball,” Nolan said. “Do it for them. It’s their last season. We just want to give them the opportunity to win a championship.”