There are few moral victories to be had or silver linings to be sought once the calendar flips to February during a high school basketball season. No, at this point, a defeat is simply a defeat.
To its credit, Poughkeepsie didn’t attempt to sugarcoat this. The Pioneers admitted that coming out “flat” against a good opponent enabled Kingston to “do a number on us,” forward Paul Ward said.
Kingston led from start to finish and pulled away in the third quarter of a 66-46 win over Poughkeepsie as part of the Officials vs. Cancer basketball tournament at Dutchess Community College on Saturday.
Should a silver lining be presented, however, the setting offered one: It was the Officials vs. Cancer tournament. This wasn’t a league game for the Pioneers and, in the large scope, the result mattered little.
“That’s the biggest thing, people making an effort to fight the disease,” Ward said. “It’s a serious problem and I’d glad to see there’s a lot of people in the community trying to do something.”
Ten area teams participated in the tournament, which was held on two days and at two sites. SUNY New Paltz hosted four games last Sunday, and the remaining five were played on Saturday, in which Arlington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Red Hook, New Paltz and Roy C. Ketcham were involved. Marlboro, John Jay, Spackenkill and Our Lady of Lourdes played last week. Poughkeepsie competed on both days and lost to Newburgh a week ago.
The tournament, in its fifth season, has raised about $10,000 each year for the American Cancer Society, tournament chairperson Kevin O’Connor said. Funds are procured through donations, ticket and merchandise sales, concessions and raffles in the gymnasium during the games. As well, the 27 referees officiating the nine games each donated their fees, totally about $2,500.
For as much as he stressed X’s and O’s and execution, Pioneers coach Jerome Elting expressed to his team the importance of the tournament and its greater cause. He lost his father, brother and close friends to cancer. Players, too, said they can relate.
“My grandfather got diagnosed last year and he’s battling now,” sophomore Davontrey Thomas said. “He’s a big role model in my life, so it hurts to see him struggle and have to go through that.”
Ward said he has family friends who have endured lung and breast cancer.
“In today’s age, I don’t think there’s any of us who haven’t dealt with cancer in some way, be it ourselves or loved ones,” said O’Connor, a longtime referee whose bout with cancer of the nasal cavity provided the inspiration to start the tournament in 2013. “It’s great to see these teams willing to take part and the community show support.”
Thomas had 16 points and nine rebounds for Poughkeepsie (8-8). Marvin Lundsford added 13 points and Niyal Going scored five.
The Pioneers trailed 33-19 at halftime, bedeviled early by missed layups and Kingston’s perimeter shooting. The Tigers pulled away in the third quarter, extending to a 54-35 lead. Damani Thomas scored 19 points to lead Kingston. Reid Jordan added 17, including five three-pointers, and Skilar Ryan had 14 points.
“Kingston is a good, seasoned team, and we came out sluggish,” said Elting, whose team admitted to being tired after a 70-66 win over Saugerties on Friday night. “Flat or not, we missed too many layups and we’ve got to clean things up … We want to make our mark in sectionals.”
Poughkeepsie, in somewhat of a rebuilding phase, still is in position to secure a berth in the Section 9 Class A playoffs. Their seed, Ward said, will likely be determined in the final two regular-season games. The Pioneers visit Highland at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday.
In an earlier game, Roosevelt rebound from a close loss to New Paltz on Friday and beat Arlington 57-43, avenging a loss to the Admirals in the Duane Davis Memorial Tournament on New Year’s Eve. Red Hook fell to Hudson, 63-58. Zaahir Woody scored 18 points in Ketcham’s 54-45 win over Yorktown in a late game.
Stephen Haynes: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4