By Tyler Smith
S9Hoops.com Goshen Basketball Beat Writer
NEW WINDSOR — The hype was real on a snow-filled night in Cornwall Thursday evening. Their fans packed the ‘Dragons Den’ and were as loud as advertised. Tension was high and it was primed to be a game to remember.
Goshen came into the game ready for the boos, especially senior guard Zack Foley, whose “short shorts” strike a nerve in the hearts of those in the Cornwall student section — who deem themselves “The Cornwall Crazies.”.
The game was low scoring; just as Cornwall head coach Tom Howe prefers. But it was no match for the Gladiators who eked out a 40-37 victory over their rivals.
Throughout the contest, the referees knew both teams were going to play physical, so those who wished to drive to the basket were not rewarded with free throws as often as they hoped.
Foley, who combined for 67 points in the last two games, was limited to just 17 points, six assists, four rebounds, and three steals. He knew playing at Cornwall wasn’t going to be easy both mentally and physically, but kept himself focused for the task on hand. “I knew I couldn’t let it get me frustrated,” he said. “I had to keep my head in the game and put in extra effort on defense. I had to focus harder and calm everything down.”
The Cornwall Crazies were thunderous throughout the game, constantly chanting “Overrated” at Foley. The crowd chants had the opposite effect on him. “I enjoy every second a crowd tries to get to me.
With under a minute left in the game, Foley was fouled twice as Cornwall needed to stop the clock. Foley missed three-of-four free throws to keep the game within the reach of the Dragons. With the deafening crowd in his ear, Foley kept calm, knocking down each of his final four attempts from the charity stripe to seal the victory.
Even with the “off night” Foley still led the game in scoring and is averaging 24.5 points per game on the season. “If we can win every game where I’m not playing well, we’re going to be a very scary team when I’m playing good,” he added.
Cornwall’s dynamic big-man duo Will Fredericks and Kyle Skivington were both crucial in the Dragons’ efforts, putting up ten points a piece.
Despite being three inches shorter, Goshen junior guard Matt Giordano had the responsibility of hanging with Fredericks on the defensive end. “I just had to limit his touches and keep the ball out of his hands. He’s a great player and a tough assignment defensively, but I’m also a tough defender”, he said.
Giordano had a very well-rounded game on both ends, finishing with 10 points, five assists, four rebounds, and four blocks.
First-year varsity center Tom Colgan had another field day on the glass, grabbing ten rebounds. Junior forward Aaron Wright added four points, nine rebounds, and two blocks. And senior wing Eric Romero scored five points.
Goshen head coach Mike Tangney credited a tough Cornwall team, saying, “Cornwall makes it so tough to stick to what your team does well in. They force you to play how they want you to. We did our best to switch things up offensively and defensively to keep them guessing.”
Although he was pumped up about this huge win over the arch-rival, Tangney kept it cordial. “Rivalries are for the players, not the coaches. Do I use it as motivation? Sure, I’d be silly not to, but Coach Howe and I shake hands and congratulate each other after every game no matter the outcome. I’m proud of my guys for getting it done tonight”, he said.
With the win, Goshen moves to 4-0 for the first time since the 2001-02 season when current assistant coach John Dombrowski was a senior.
The Gladiators have a three game stretch before winter break, playing at Burke Catholic on Monday, home versus Minisink Valley on Wednesday, and at Port Jervis on Friday. The latter two games of the week are the Gladiators second & third league games.
For now, undefeated has a nice ring to it, but with just four games under their belt, they can’t get ahead of themselves going forward as a team with championship aspirations.