Warriors Finding a New Identity on the Court
Senior Kyle Montecalvo (left) and the Valley boys’ basketball team split a pair of games by losing to Cromwell and defeating Westbrook last week. The Warriors are now 4-2 on the year. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Marcus SantaMaria and the Warriors claimed a 53-39 win at Westbrook on Feb. 26, marking victory No. 4 for Valley on the season. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Junior James Marsden scored 19 points to lift Valley Regional to its road victory versus Westbrook last week. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
After losing sophomore Jeremy Arnum to a wrist injury, the Valley Regional boys’ basketball team entered last week looking to find a new identity on the court. The Warriors started that process by playing two games and came away with a split of the set to put their record at 4-2 on the season.
In its first game of the week, Valley took a 50-43 home loss against Cromwell on Feb. 22. The Warriors got right back in the win column by claiming a 53-39 road victory versus Westbrook on Feb. 26.
The Warriors opened their week by hosting Cromwell for a contest at Valley Regional High School. Valley fell behind 15-7 after the first quarter and was down 31-14 at halftime. Valley chipped away by outscoring Cromwell in both the third (11-6) and fourth (18-13) quarters, but the Panthers were able to hold on for the win.
Despite the loss, Head Coach Kevin Woods was pleased with his team’s ability to bounce back after the break and outscore Cromwell 29-19 during the second half.
“It was a tale of two halves. The first half, we kind of had to grow up. We learned our identity in that first half,” Woods said. “We lost Jeremy on [Feb. 20] and had one day of practice before Cromwell. It was a learning process. We got considerably better as the game went. I was proud of our effort. You’re never satisfied with a loss, but the kids played their heart out.”
Senior captain Marcus SantaMaria scored 15 points for Valley in the game. Juniors James Marsden and Simon Partyka had eight points apiece, while senior Cameron Ruel scored five points.
Coach Woods was impressed with SantaMaria’s performance versus Cromwell and the overall work ethic that the senior has displayed to get to this point. Woods felt that the game served as an important lesson about how numerous different players are going to have to step on offense without Arnum om the floor.
“As we settle down to what we want to do, it doesn’t matter who scores. Our identity is that it’s going to take anybody and everybody,” said Woods. “There’s not one guy that is going to bail us out. We have to utilize everybody. When it’s your time, make the shots.”
Valley finished off its week by defeating Westbrook 53-39 in a road game on Feb. 26. The Warriors shook off a slow start to hold a 24-23 lead at halftime. Valley then outscored Westbrook 19-6 in the third quarter to bring a 43-29 lead into the fourth. The Warriors followed up with a strong fourth quarter to secure the 14-point victory for their fourth win of the season.
“It was closer than the score looks like. Westbrook pushed us to our limits,” Coach Woods said. “We were down 9-0 to start the game, we were only up a point at halftime and, with a minute to go, we were up 21. It was a tale of two tapes. Once we really established who we wanted to be, we got the big lead.”
Marsden scored 19 points to lead the Warriors in the scoring column. Partyka had 11 points, senior Kyle Montecalvo scored 10 points, and SantaMaria scored five points in the victory.
Coach Woods felt that Valley learned from its loss to Cromwell and adapted well to its new next-man-up identity in the Westbrook game.
“It’s just a matter of when it’s your opportunity, you’re going to be the guy. That’s who we are,” said Woods. “All these guys care about is winning. If we end up having no All-Shoreline players but we win the rest of our games, who cares? That’s what these guys feel like. Let’s have some fun and let’s win.”
Coach Woods was happy to see Warriors play together and win as a team against Westbrook. As his team enters the second half of the season, Woods believes that Valley has the potential to win the Shoreline Conference championship, but only if the Warriors continue to play as one.
“We’re good enough to beat anybody. We just have to play as a team, play hard as a team,” Woods said. “I think we’re very good, even without Jeremy. I think we can win the conference. But it’s going to take a whole team effort night in and night out. We have enough talent to do it. We’re going to have to win as a team.”