A Big Fourth Quarter Propels the Panthers Past Westlake

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Throughout Friday afternoon’s game against Westlake, Jack Eisenberg and his Pleasantville teammates still had their previous outing in the back of their heads.

Charlie Montgomery of Pleasantville dribbles the ball up the courtas Westlake's Richie Maio chases during Friday's game. Photo by Andy Jacobs
Charlie Montgomery of Pleasantville dribbles the ball up the court
as Westlake’s Richie Maio chases during Friday’s game. Photo by Andy Jacobs

It was a game in which the Panthers held a 17-point advantage over Croton-Harmon at the half, only to squander the double-digit lead in a shocking loss. With the late-game collapse still fresh in their minds, the Panthers wanted to quickly erase the bitter memory and change their fortunes against the Wildcats.

And that’s exactly what they did in a 73-58 win on the road.

“It was in our minds the whole game, especially at the end of the half,” Eisenberg said. “We only had a three-point lead, but we didn’t want to blow it. And at the end of the third quarter, we had an eight-point lead and again we were thinking about the Croton game and we didn’t want to blow it.”

But with Eisenberg erupting for 29 points and the other Panthers driving to the basket relentlessly, Pleasantville managed to expand its second-half lead, erupting down the stretch to leave the Wildcats far behind. After a hard-fought first half, the Panthers just had too much for Westlake in the game’s final minutes.

In the third quarter, Pleasantville went on a 10-0 run to build a double-digit lead and then when Westlake started edging closer in the final quarter, the Panthers pulled away for good with a 9-0 run.

“It was all defense. It was a lot of steals in transition,” Pleasantville coach Chris Welsh said. “We’ve had some tough moments in some tough spots this year. We’ve struggled a little bit with some things and it was nice to see us getting down to business.”

For a moment coming out for the third quarter, the Panthers actually did surrender their halftime advantage following a 3-pointer by Wildcat freshman Jesse Boyce with 4:26 to play in the period that put Westlake ahead 35-34.

But a quick response by the Panthers regained the lead, one they didn’t relinquish after scoring 10 unanswered points in the span of two minutes. Running every chance they had, transition buckets were easy to come by for the Panthers.

And even in the half-court offense, Pleasantville still showed no fear driving to the bucket even with Westlake’s big center, Tommy Hopkins, camped under the basket.

“We were just going up strong,” Eisenberg said. “We weren’t worried about his size. We put our head straight to the basket.”

And Eisenberg did that as much as anyone. Heavily involved in both second-half runs, Eisenberg orchestrated the offense smoothly by either handing out assists or hitting an open shot from beyond the arc.

Welsh said Eisenberg’s performance Friday was just another example why he’s one of the best players in Section One. And while Welsh said he feels many overlook what Eisenberg brings to the table, he knows they’re the ones missing out.

But why does he get overshadowed?

“That’s a good question,” said Welsh. “I don’t know. It’s a smaller school. Maybe there are some other players with a little more notoriety, but for my money nobody’s better.”

Westlake coach Steve Gage said Eisenberg is one of the best players his team has had to face all season long, a season that’s been a struggle for the Wildcats.

Friday’s game was the first time all 12 of his players were on the bench together. With injuries and other commitments, the Wildcats, according to Gage, are still working on building chemistry despite being more than halfway through their season.

Gage, who took over the Wildcats’ helm just a few weeks prior to the season, said he’s still getting familiar with all the players. He knows the relationship between player and coach doesn’t just happen overnight, despite the talent he sees on his squad.

“It’s the last six games that you win that count, not the first, not the middle,” he said. “It’s the last six, so that’s our goal.”







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