It’s not often that a team’s fans will storm the court after beating another team for the second time in a season especially when the first victory was by 22 points, but then again this is Briarcliff and Pleasantville.
Orange and blue-clad students jumped and danced at center court after Briarcliff held on for 47-44 victory over its number one rival, Pleasantville. Spencer Seabrook hit two clutch free throws to give Briarcliff a 3-point lead with two seconds left and Pleasantville couldn’t get a final shot off in a wild finish.
“The intensity of this game was great,” Briarcliff coach Brendan Coxen said. “They played a great second half and made this a true Briarcliff-Pleasantville game where the records don’t matter.”
Brian Daniels completely dominated with 29 points and nine rebounds including 19 points in the first half. The Bears led by 17 at the break before Pleasantville rallied in the second half behind the play of Nick Greto who finished with 11 points (all in the second half), 11 rebounds, and four assists. Point guard Jack Eisenberg scored 15 points for the Panthers.
“I was happy with the way we played in the second half,” Pleasantville coach Chris Welsh said. “To come back against a team of this caliber is a very encouraging thing.”
Daniels was denied the ball in the second half but continued to come up with important baskets in the paint. He shot 13-for-19 from the field and 24 of his points came in the paint. Briarcliff shot just 50% from the line in the game but made big free throws down the stretch.
“We have seniors out there that make plays,” Coxen said. “Spencer just missed two free throws badly before he made those two shots. We’re senior-laden and that made a big difference.”
Briarcliff opened up a monster-sized lead in the second quarter behind Daniels during a 16-2 run to close out the half. Pleasantville couldn’t make shots in the first half (4-for-23 FG) mostly because of the tough defense by Daniels, Seabrook (9 points, 9 rebounds).
“He’s a physical specimen in there and it’s impossible to stop that left-handed shot he has,” Welsh said.
Pleasantville started to hit shots in the second half and got back in it behind Greto, Eisenberg, and a nice putback by Charlie Montgomery. Ryan Heugel hit one of two free throws to give Briarcliff a 45-41 lead, but James Leyden hit a 3-pointer with eight seconds left to bring Pleasantville within one.
The Panthers desperately tried to call timeout before the ball was inbounded but they were forced to foul with 2.6 seconds left when the timeout went unnoticed. After Seabrook’s two free throws, Pleasantville stepped out of bounds to end its chance.
“This was a big game for our momentum,” Daniels said. “Coach told us to just play our game and we came out with the win.”
The victory gives Briarcliff a season sweep of its rival and keeps the Bears atop the Class B playoff seedings with a big game with Byram Hills on Sunday.
“We have to keep working hard,” Daniels said. “This is a big game on Sunday and we have to prepare hard at practice tomorrow.”
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