Jon Dinan | Democrat
Livingston Manor’s Josh Janik (23) gets up high to try and block a short jump shot from Fallsburg’s Jeremiah Fannings (15) during Monday night’s non-league game in Manor. Fallsburg won the hard-fought game, 59-55.
Watson takes Manor into his own hands
Story by Jon Dinan
LIVINGSTON MANOR January 18 With his team trailing Livingston Manor 50-48 in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, Fallsburg point guard Rakkir Watson pulled up for a jumper just inside the three point line and drew contact earning a chance to tie the game.
He made both free throws in the high-pressure situation, tying the game at 50, erasing what would be Manor’s final lead.
“When I’m on the free throw line, it’s like no one else is around me,” said Watson, who finished with a team-high 21 points. “I just block everything out and let them fall.”
After making the two foul shots, Watson came up with a big steal on the ensuing inbound. He then dished to teammate Aaron Burrel, positioned underneath the basket, who went up for an easy lay-up.
This heads-up play putFallsburg up 52-50 with 2:15, a lead they would not relinquish en route to an exciting 59-55 non-league victory punctuated by numerous lead changes.
Watson, the county’s leading scorer with a 24.1 points per game average, traded big buckets with the county’s second leading scorer, Livingston Manor forward Josh Janik, as the two teams battled back and forth throughout the game.
Early in the fourth quarter, Watson put Fallsburg up 47-45 by finishing another tough drive and lay-up, but Janik responded by taking the ball right back down the other way, going coast to coast to tie the game again at 47.
Midway through the final quarter, Manor was hit with two controversial whistles on back-to back possessions that did not sit well with the Manor faithful.
The first one was on Janik, who was called for an offensive foul that handed the ball back over to the Comets at a pivotal point in the game.
Manor made the stop, but on their next trip down the court, guard Dan Crespo picked-up a loose ball foul to put Manor in the penalty.
Watson hit one of two free throws to give Fallsburg a 48-47 lead with four minutes remaining.
A few plays later, Crespo was fouled away from the basket and made two clutch free throws in a one-and-one situation to put his team up 50-48 with just under three minutes left in regulation.
With the clock winding down Watson took on the role of closer and began his heroics, proving why he’s one of the best players in Section 9.
“I feel like we did well as a whole,” said Watson. “We didn’t shoot very well today, but I think what made the difference was the fact that we never stopped working hard and playing team basketball.”
Manor’s Janik, who is averaging 23.4 points per game, also put his talent and toughness on display as he finished with a game-high 23. He now trails Watson by under a point for the overall scoring lad in the county.
“We have a young team with only three returning seniors, so we knew going into the season that it was going to be an uphill battle,” said Janik. “It’s hard for us to win games when we miss layups, miss free throws and turn the ball over in key situations.”
With the non-conference victory Fallsburg moves to 6-3, 3-3 league. Manor fell to 3-4 overall, 3-1 league.