Valley’s Victory Versus Portland Marks Win No. 200 for Woods
Junior James Marsden and the Valley Regional boys’ basketball squad secured a 64-60 comeback win over Portland on March 1 to notch Head Coach Kevin Woods’s 200th career victory. Marsden had a heavy hand in that win with 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two blocks. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Junior point guard Simon Partyka made all the right plays in the Warriors’ 64-60 win over Portland. Partyka notched 22 points, five rebounds, five assists, and five steals. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior Kyle Montecalvo and the Warriors a narrow 49-46 in a home game versus Old Saybrook on March 4. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
The Valley Regional boys’ basketball squad helped Head Coach Kevin Woods reach a notable milestone last week. With a 64-60 road win against Portland on March 1, the Warriors secured Coach Woods’ 200th career win. Valley also lost a home contest against Old Saybrook last week and moved to 5-3 on the year.
Getting to career win No. 200 is an impressive milestone, but Coach Woods’s attention was on this season rather than on years past. Coach Woods was more proud of the fact that the Warriors beat one of the Shoreline Conference’s top teams in Portland, and that bodes well for Valley’s success this year. A nice wrinkle to the occasion was that the Warriors were up against Valley alum and Portland Head Coach David Bradbury in the contest.
“It was an awesome experience to be coaching against David in that game. He’s one of the greatest kids I’ve ever coached and so committed to the sport of basketball,” said Coach Woods. “Getting win No. 200 was great. You want to get it against somebody you’re more competitive with, but it was great to share that occasion with David.”
The Warriors had to go all out against the Highlanders after falling behind early. Portland got out to an 18-11 lead after the first quarter and expanded the lead slightly to 37-29 by halftime. Valley came out swinging in the third quarter to take a narrow 52-51 advantage heading into the final frame. The Warriors edged Portland 12-9 in the fourth and got the 64-60 win.
Junior Simon Partyka had a huge game for the Warriors with 22 points, five rebounds, five assists, and five steals. Junior Saager Patel added 15 points and nine boards, while fellow junior James Marsden notched 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two blocks. Senior Kyle Montecalvo added two points and two rebounds.
After the emotional high of a come-from-behind win to reach Coach Woods’s 200th victory, the Warriors hosted Old Saybrook and took a 49-46 loss against the Rams on March 4. Coach Woods felt proud of his teams effort against Portland, but he thought that all out effort wore his team down for their next matchup.
“I think was the tale of two games this week. Portland was the highlight of the season, but the loss against Saybrook was the lowlight,” said Coach Woods. “It’s one of those things where we’re coming off a high in beating Portland, who are big and athletic. We had to fight tooth and nail to get back in. We used a lot of energy, and we were dead the next day in practice. Simon Partyka had that outstanding game with his leadership on the floor. Unfortunately, it came at a cost because he couldn’t play against Old Saybrook.”
Valley looked to be in good shape after the first quarter after getting out to a 19-6 lead against the Rams. Old Saybrook fought back and narrowed Valley’s lead to 24-18 by halftime. The Warriors pulled further ahead in the third and held a 37-28 edge heading into the fourth. Valley seemed to run out of gas in the final frame as Old Saybrook outscored the Warriors 21-9 to grab the 49-46 win.
“We came up a little bit short. We got off to a huge charge. I’m not sure exactly what changed, but I think we gassed out. Some might call it a trap game coming off a huge win and having that huge rivalry game against Old Lyme coming up next week,” Woods said. “What matters is how we bounce back. I love coaching this team, and I expect them to be able play some good basketball over the next couple of weeks. We’ll see what this team is all about.”
Marsden supplied 17 points, six rebounds, and five steals, while Marcus SantaMaria added 12 points, four rebounds, and three assists. Patel picked up 11 points, six boards, a block, and an assist. Senior Cam Ruel had six rebounds, an assist, and a steal. DiAngelo Jean-Pierre filled in for Partyka at point and performed admirably with four points, three assists, two boards, and a steal.
Coach Woods knows that win 200 is meaningful, but it’s also important to have a short memory when it comes to wins and losses on a season.
“It’s cool that I got to 200, but looking in my book, I’m at 0-1 after that Old Saybrook game,” Coach Woods said. “We’ll have to grind out the last couple of weeks. We all only play each other once, and if you look at it, there are like three teams tied for second place. If we can win out, we have a great shot to play one or two home games. That’s huge in the playoffs, and it will give us a better chance going forward.”
Woods also made sure to mention that his 200 wins as a coach are the product of the talented student-athletes that he had the chance to coach over his career.
“A lot of these people don’t get the opportunity to reach these milestones. The players on these teams that I’ve coached are just as much responsible for these wins,” said Coach Woods. “They built the culture, and these players learn from those guys. It’s cool. I get the wins, but the culture is set from those winning teams. That’s how you get those wins. I think I do an okay job, but it’s the players. It’s a culture.”