For the first time in a dozen years, Tom Bell earned a coaching victory Saturday.
It only took him one game to get back into the swing of things.
The first time Bell led the Spackenkill High School boys basketball team into action, the Spartans beat Onteora, 85-51, in the Pioneer Classic tournament at Poughkeepsie High School.
“We’re really excited about this group. We think this team has great, great potential,” Bell said after the Spartans’ season-opening game, his first win since becoming the Spackenkill’s head coach. He had previously compiled a 171-85 record as the head coach of Poughkeepsie’s girls from 1990-2002.
Justin Etts’ 17 points and nine rebounds led the Spartans, who travel to Dover on Tuesday.
Spackenkill also used 12 points, 12 rebounds, five steals and four assists from Alex Strom to claim victory. Teammates Stanley Garrant (11 points) and Camron Abalos (10 points) contributed to the Spartans, who benefited from Kyiev Bennorman’s 12 rebounds.
“This is a hard-working group,” Bell said. “Every night, 13 kids bust it for me. It’s a great group of kids, and they work hard, defensively.”
That was evident this day.
Ahead 16-14 after the opening period, Spackenkill switched to a zone defense in the second quarter, taking a 37-28 lead into halftime.
Spackenkill employed a full-court press and made several key layups in the third, outscoring Onteora (0-2) in the frame, 31-12, to pull away.
“We were able to make a couple shots,” Bell said, “and get into our pressure.”
Poughkeepsie 75, Peekskill 57 – The hosts prevailed in the final game of their Pioneer Classic, behind Sanjai Ruparelia’s 27 points.
“Our confidence built as the game went on,” head coach Brian Laffin said after his team improved to 3-1, rebounding from Wednesday’s 81-75 loss to Franklin D. Roosevelt in Hyde Park. “I think we might have been a little nervous with this being our first game. We showed a little more maturity than we did at F.D.R. the other night.”
Caval Haylett scored 17 points for the Pioneers, who also received 11 points from Jovan Atkinson.
Peekskill lead at halftime, 30-28, and Poughkeepsie soon trailed by four points shortly after the break.
From there, though, Laffin said his Pioneers stepped up their efforts on both ends of the court, growing their eventual winning margin to 18 points.
“I think we were more aggressive around the basket. Our defense, we weren’t going to chase them around; they were quick,” Laffin said. “We extended the half-court defense very well and forced them into tough shots.”
Poughkeepsie hosts Marlboro on Tuesday.
John Jay 70, North Salem 45 – Justin Cunha and Hugh Huggins each scored 12 points late Friday, lifting Wiccopee’s Patriots to victory.
Shane McDonald added 11 points to the winning cause. Huggins added eight rebounds.
Ahead at halftime, 35-18, John Jay (2-2) pulled away even further in the third period, taking a 52-27 cushion into the final frame.
North Salem fell to 1-1.
John Jay hosts Horace Greeley on Thursday.