Briarcliff tops Pleasantville in Lt. Charles Garbarini Memorial Basketball Game

Jordan Griffith MSG Varsity  

Before Briarcliff’s road matchup with league rival Pleasantville, Briarcliff coach Cody Moffett laid it all out on the table.

The second-year coach brought his team together in the pregame huddle, and while he did discuss strategy and matchups, Moffett’s final words were the ones that meant the most.

“This is your last time wearing this jersey in this gym,” Moffett said, specifically to his senior class. “How do you want to be remembered? Do you want to go out with a win?”

The question was left in the air for the Bears’ players. And when it was all said and done, those players answered with a resounding, “Yes.”

Briarcliff pulled off a thrilling comeback victory on Thursday afternoon, knocking off Pleasantville 43-41 in the 11th Annual Lt. Charles Garbarini Memorial Basketball Game. The Bears trailed by five points in the fourth quarter, but took the lead on Josiah Cobbs’ game-winning layup with under a minute remaining.

The Panthers had two looks to win and tie the game in the final six seconds, but both shots were just short, lifting Briarcliff to its’ 10th win in the last 11 matchups between the two rivals.

“It was the mental toughness,” Moffett said after the game. “That was something we spoke about during the summer. We said we’d be in close games on the road and we (prepared for it). We put everything together (tonight).”

Cobbs’ game-winning basket came during a scoring flurry to end the fourth quarter. The Bears trailed by three points with under two minutes remaining, but Jack Reish had an on-the-ball steal and an and-1 to tie the game.

Sean Crowley scored on a strong layup plus the foul on the next Bears’ possession, but missed the ensuing free-throw. Panthers’ captain Chris Maloney scored to tie the game at 41-41 with less than a minute remaining, but Briarcliff immediately pushed the ball up the floor and found Cobbs on the wing.

Cobbs found his way inside and hit a tough layup over the top of a defender for the final basket of the game.

“I knew that I had to be aggressive,” Cobbs said. “I wanted to get to the rim and once I got there, I made the layup. I knew it was going in and I knew we had the win… This wasn’t a regular game. We had to play our hearts out for our seniors and win it for them.”

Moffett said that while most other coaches might call time out, he felt that he could let his team play in the moment.

“With an athlete like Josiah, you just want to put him out in space,” Moffett said. “When we caught it in transition, especially against a team that plays a zone, one of the ways that we knew we could score was early (in transition). I just let them go.”

Briarcliff did not have a single player in double figures in the win, but got an even balance throughout the game. Cobbs finished with seven points, while Crowley posted nine. Alquan Phillip had eight points, while Jackson Wexler and Malik White each had six points.

“It’s always great playing Pleasantville in a great atmosphere with a big crowd,” Crowley said. “We pretty much see a different scout every game (against our team balance). With how teams play us, nobody is going to score all of our points in any game. Everybody gets their points.”

Pleasantville showed great heart in the loss, continually battling back and forth with the Bears. Mike Manley had a game-high 11 points and knocked down several key three-pointers on the day. Maloney also had 11 points, while Matt Gill had six points.

“This was a hard game,” Cobbs said. “(The Panthers) are a really good team. They can all shoot. We just had to play together.”

Game note: This was the 11th year that the Annual Lt. Charles Garbarini Memorial Basketball Game was played. “Charley” was a New York City Firefighter for 16 years and a passionate Pleasantville Panthers fan. Garbarini made the supreme sacrifice on September 11, trying to save the lives of others. Garbarini is survived by his wife Andrea and two sons Phillip and Dylan. Andrea and Phillip Garbarini presented the memorial trophy to Briarcliff after the game.


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