By Tom Robinson, NEPABasketball.com
ARCHBALD – Valley View turned in a performance worth waiting for Monday night.
Playing for the first time in 10 days and starting late because of a television broadcast and Coaches vs. Cancer ceremonies that carried even more significance than usual for prominent players in the game, the Cougars looked more rested than rusty.
Playing three days after the death of and two days before the funeral of their grandmother, Kay Flanagan Craig, who died from cancer, Marc Kudrich and Bobby Craig led the way offensively as Valley View defeated Wallenpaupack, 55-42, in a Lackawanna League Division 1-2 crossover game.
The offensive efforts of Kudrich and Craig combined with the relentless man-to-man defense of Chase Combs to make sure Valley View never trailed.
After the loss of their Nana was recognized during the pregame ceremonies, cousins Craig and Kudrich went right to work in leading Valley View to 58 percent shooting from 3-point range in the first half.
Craig banked in a 3-pointer to open the night’s scoring.
Kudrich then nailed five 3-point attempts in a row in the first half when he scored 17 of his game-high 18 points.
Craig finished strong, going 4-for-5 from the floor in the second half to finish 6-for-8. He had nine points in a decisive seven-minute stretch of the second half that he capped with another 3-pointer.
“It was a special night, Coaches vs. Cancer,” said Craig, who finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds. “I just got hot at the end of the game.”
Wallenpaupack got as close as 39-37 when freshman Jack Smith opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer.
Craig answered with a drive and a long 3-pointer, then Kudrich scored his only point of the second half to put the Cougars up eight midway through the quarter.
While they were leading the Cougars on one end of the floor, Combs was making sure the Buckhorns never found their offensive rhythm on the other.
With a single-minded defensive focus, Combs held Elijah Rosenthal, the Lackawanna League’s leading scorer, to seven points, less than one-third of his season average.
“Everyone else had to hedge, but I just couldn’t move,” Combs said. “I couldn’t gamble, I couldn’t help out in any situation. I just manned up.”
In recent weeks, Combs had read about Rosenthal’s exploits, including 43 points against Scranton Prep and 57 points with 11 made 3-pointers in two games in less than 24 hours during the weekend. But he already knew what he was up against after Rosenthal scored 14 in last year’s 62-60 overtime win by Valley View.
“I guarded him last year,” Combs said. “I knew what he had and what he was capable of.”
Combs made sure Rosenthal never got a chance to show it, helping the Cougars knock off the Division 2 leaders.
There was no stopping Kudrich early.
“We had a long break with the snow so we practiced and practiced,” said Kudrich, who also grabbed 8 rebounds. “A lot of shots, a lot of just running our offenses through. We had a groove going coming into the game.
“I kind of got into a rhythm. I got one going and they kept falling. Coach (Mike Kurpis) kept calling plays for me.”
Zack Kovalchik came off the bench to add 10 points, including 8 in the fourth quarter. He was 6-for-6 from the line.
Dixon Black had four assists.
While stopping Rosenthal was primarily a one-man assignment, the Cougars used a team effort to offset the impact of 6-foot-7 junior center Gabe Springer and outrebound the Buckhorns, 35-27.
Springer was the game’s top rebounder with 12 to go along with 10 points and 2 blocked shots, but the combination of Craig, Kudrich, Jaden Duplessis (6) and Combs (5) gave Valley View the overall rebounding advantage.
Derrick Vosburg hit his first three 3-point attempts and added another later to lead Wallenpaupack with 14 points.
With his shots limited, Rosenthal set up teammates with a game-high six assists.
Valley View, the fifth-ranked Big School Boys team in the Astra Wealth Advisors Super Six Power Rankings, improved to 6-3 in the Lackawanna and 12-6 overall. Sixth-ranked Wallenpaupack is 6-4 and 13-6.
ELSEWHERE: Monday's roundup includes a GAR win to move into a first-place tie. http://nepabasketball.com/2018-19/articles/BoysRoundup020419.