Another colleague of mine, Mike Dougherty was at Clarkstown South for the NYSPHSAA boys regional final between Suffern and Bethlehem. There was no photographer, but here is Mike’s game story:
WEST NYACK — While family and friends streamed into the gym, Suffern was off in a corner watching Bethlehem warm up.
It was hard not to stare.
The Eagles showed up with an impressive wingspan. They were clearly head and shoulders above the Mounties on Saturday during a 25-17, 25-13, 15-25, 25-11 win in a regional championship game at Clarkstown South High School.
Capturing a set in regional play for the first time in program history was little consolation to Suffern, but it was progress nonetheless.
“We’ve seen kids that can play before,” Mounties senior outside hitter Tom Sharp said. “We’re not intimidated by any means, but we knew that we had to come out to play or it was going to be a long day.”
There were some competitive moments.
A string of early mistakes left Suffern in a 9-2 hole in the first set, and Mounties coach Kim Cleary spent a quick timeout reminding everyone to breathe.
“They’re competitive every point,” Sharp said. “They play at a high level all year. We kind of have to go find that kind of talent. And they are big. We haven’t seen kids that big all year so the first couple of big blocks they got, we took a step back to re-evaluate.”
An inability to string points together despite a number of mistakes by the Eagles proved costly.
“We played Bethlehem in a tournament earlier this season, so I don’t know if we were intimidated by them or if we just had state regional nerves,” Cleary said.
The Eagles were putting away points with big hits from the front and back lines, and would not let Suffern get on a run.
“I thought we kind of had the early jitters,” Mounties senior libero Will Margolin said. “We were putting all the free balls into the net and weren’t taking advantage of everything they were giving us. We didn’t settle in and get comfortable until the third set, and that’s when we played our best.”
A third-set win was impressive.
Bethlehem could not distance itself early, and the Mounties made a statement with an 11-1 closing run.
The contributions were coming from all over the court with Oliver Cronk, Brendan Kenny, Troy Osborne and Kevin Jefferson making critical plays along with Sharp. All of the momentum dissipated when the Eagles got back into a rhythm and built a sizeable lead early in the fourth set.
“We have a very small league and we don’t have a chance to play at that level consistently, but I was very proud of the way my guys performed today,” Cleary said. “It’s always difficult to play a team with so much talent, but my guys kept their heads up and played out every point.”