Story by Eli Ruiz
MONTICELLO February 15, 2013 It's been an up and down few years for Arianna DaCosta on the Monticello girls’ basketball team as she has battled physical and medical issues. In fact, she missed the Monties last few games with the flu.
But what better way to put everything behind her than with a standout performance on Senior Night Tuesday as Monticello thrashed Sullivan West 67-28 in a non-league game.
DaCosta scored eight points and was all over the court defensively, getting steals and forcing turnovers in a triumphant return.
“I just wanted to come out and give my all for my last time playing on my home court and for my team and coach,” said DaCosta. “I love my team and I love my coach and I’m just glad we could come out with the win.”
DaCosta then reflected on the difficulties she’s faced her last two seasons at Monticello. “The program here has given me great memories, both good and bad. This season and last season were really tough for me mentally because of medical issues but I’m just happy I was able to bounce back.”
In keeping with the night’s theme, the Monties four seniors DaCosta, Yadira Montes, Amber Grobusch and Sha-Mira Moore were honored before the game with roses at center court and soon after everything was coming up roses for the 115 (22 OCIAA Div. III) Panthers.
Monticello opened the game with a 6-0 burst, but a three-pointer by Sullivan West’s Hayley Puerschner closed the gap with 4:07 left in the first.
Unfortunately for the Lady Bulldog’s and coach Pat Donovan, those would be his team’s only points of the opening quarter. Behind DaCosta and Montes, who also scored eight points, and Amber Grobusch’s strong presence underneath, Monticello closed the quarter with a commanding 16-3 lead.
“Ari’s [Arianna DaCosta] been out for awhile,” said Monticello coach Karen Atack. “She had the flu and it stuck with her. She was excellent tonight, though.”
The second quarter actually opened where the first quarter ended with speedy Yami Reyes going the distance after a steal for the opening points.
“Yami and Yadira, they hold it [the team] together, said Atack. “And offensively, they make things happen. They have the outside shot, they have the drive.”
On the other end, though, Marianne Durkin would answer back underneath with a hard-fought goal of her own. Kristen Herbert would follow with another quick score and the Lady Bulldogs looked to close the gap. With 2:30 left in the half and the score 22-11, Elaine Durkin’s basket brought Sullivan West within nine points the closest it would get the rest of the night. Sullivan West was pesky, closing out the half with a buzzer-beating jumper from Isabella Kent to stay in the game at 28-17.
About that lackluster second quarter for her team, Atack said after the game, “They threw a little man [defense] at us. He [SW coach Donovan] threw a little bit of a press, a little man and if I don’t call it out, my guards don’t recognize it. We should be past that, so there’s definitely some things we have to work on.”
The second half was where things truly got out of hand for Sullivan-West as Monticello would open the third quarter with a 16-2 run that turned any bite the Bulldogs had left into more of a yelp. Before they knew it, the Panthers had an unassailable 44-19 lead.
With the loss Sullivan West drops to 3-13. Sydney Sipple led the Lady Bulldogs with nine points. Kristen Herbert added five.
Said Donovan, who admitted because of school closings that his team hadn’t been able to practice since last Thursday: “You know, we outscored them in the second quarter. We scored 14 points to their 12 in the second quarter. But then we go and score 14 points for whole rest of the game. You just can’t win games like that.”
Regarding the aggressive Monticello defense, Donovan was indifferent. “Their press wasn’t that good, we broke it. But we just beat ourselves. I don’t know how many turnovers we had. We probably had 50 turnovers. They were well-prepared, but they’re not 39 points better than us, though.”
Sullivan West is back at Monticello Saturday to take on Tri-Valley in the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament. Monticello plays at Liberty Thursday and then travels to Cornwall Friday for a big league matchup.