Sercu, Libby Combine For 54 As Pine Valley Knocks Off Panama
SOUTH DAYTON — Westfield, Clymer and Panama were all in the top 13 of the New York State Sportswriters Association Class D basketball rankings that came out Tuesday afternoon.
Pine Valley was also listed at No. 19.
After Tuesday evening, you’d be hard-pressed to say Coach Bobby Slisz’s team isn’t better than all of its Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 2 West counterparts.
Seniors Bryce Sercu and Wayne Libby are a big reason why.
Sercu scored 21 of his 27 points in the second half and Libby also added 27 as Pine Valley beat Panama 62-49 in nonleague action on Tim Nobles Court.
“This is an extremely confident team. They let me know it every day. It’s a fun group. I love them to death. … They don’t need to be convinced of anything,” Slisz said postgame. “They are ready to show the world that they are a good team who can hang with anybody on any night. I’m so proud of the growth they’ve shown on the basketball court and as human beings. … The only ones who can stop them are themselves.”
The win avenged a season-opening 64-59 loss to Panama for Pine Valley.
“We knew they were going to come back trying to defeat us on our home court,” Sercu said. “We were out for revenge. We were out to show everybody that first game wasn’t really us.”
Coach Ed Nelson’s Panthers led 27-26 at halftime thanks to Bryce Hinsdale’s three 3-pointers and 11 first-half points, but Pine Valley came out with a different energy after the break.
“They turned up their defensive pressure in the second half and we didn’t,” Nelson said. “Offensively, they executed and we didn’t. They have a nice ball club.”
The purple-and-white Panthers can thank Sercu for that energy.
Libby opened the third quarter with a bucket to give Pine Valley a one-point lead and Sercu followed with two baskets before Libby converted a conventional three-point play that gave the hosts an eight-point lead.
“Wayne is pretty dominant,” Sercu said. “He’s a crazy-good player.”
Alex Barmore made Panama’s first field goal of the quarter at the 4:48 mark before a basket from Cooper Brown and another from Barmore made it 35-33, but Kordell Oakes made a pair of free throws before Sercu pushed the lead back up to six.
“They changed defenses in the second half and tried to run a 1-2-2 for a little while,” Slisz said. “Our boys did a great job of moving the ball down to the corner to the wings and then fed it inside from there, which opened up lanes for us.”
Carter Brink made a 3-pointer — part of his 13-point night for Panama — late in the quarter, but Sercu made another two baskets and Libby scored on Pine Valley’s final possession of the quarter to make it 45-36 heading into the final eight minutes.
“We got a little more out in transition, which allowed Bryce to go to the hoop more,” Slisz said. “When he’s on, he is almost impossible to stop with that floater going to the hoop there in the middle.”
All told, Panama went 1 of 10 from 3-point range and turned the ball over five times during the decisive 19-9 third quarter.
“We were taking what they were giving us,” Nelson said. “We were just trying to find those open looks. They put some defensive pressure on us and made it tough on us tonight.”
The closest Panama got in the final eight minutes was five on back-to-back baskets from Brown and Brink, but 11 more points from Sercu and 6 from Libby helped Pine Valley put its 10th straight victory in the books.
“It was such a close game, I knew Wayne would be there,” Sercu said. ” … I figured if I could do my part, it would help him and my team push for the win.”
NOTES: Sercu led Pine Valley (10-1, 4-0 CCAA East Division) with 11 rebounds and four steals; Oakes had 10 rebounds and six assists; and Donavon Gugliemi had seven assists for Pine Valley. … Tate Catanese had six rebounds; Brink had four assists and three rebounds; and Hinsdale had six rebounds, five steals and four assists for Panama (6-4, 2-3 CCAA D2 West). … Pine Valley shot 27 of 51 (52.9%) from the field, including 2 of 9 (22.2%) from 3-point range, and turned the ball over 24 times. … Panama shot 20 of 61 (32.8%) from the field, including 5 of 28 (17.9%) from 3-point range, and turned the ball over 17 times.
Roth 1 1 3, Brown 4 0 8, Hinsdale 5 0 13, Brink 5 1 13, Catanese 1 0 2, Lisciandro 0 0 0, Barmore 4 2 10. Totals 20 4 49.
PINE VALLEY (62)
Sercu 12 3 27, Butcher 0 0 0, Gugliemi 0 0 0, Libby 12 1 27, Volk 0 0 0, KoOakes 3 2 8. Totals 27 6 62.
3-point goals–Hinsdale 3, Brink 2, Libby 2.
Panama 9 18 9 13 — 49
Pine Valley 11 15 19 17 — 62
Jayvees: Panama won.