LOCH SHELDRAKE – Patrick DiBartolo’s instincts kicked in at a crucial moment, playing a defense that the senior learned only a few days ago.
DiBartolo left his assignment and pressured Chapel Field’s Josh Harrison at the free-throw line as his team clinged to a two-point lead with 23 seconds left in the Section 9 Class D championship game. Livingston Manor’s gritty captain and its best defender the past three seasons stripped the ball from Harrison and dribbled off vital seconds.
Following two free throws by Case LeRoy, Livingston Manor celebrated its second Class D title in three years with a 53-49 win at SUNY Sullivan.
“When it came down to it, I just wanted it more,” DiBartolo said. “It's just the best feeling ever. It's not any different (than 2018).”
Livingston Manor (11-7), which defeated Chapel Field twice by 14 points in the regular season, advances to the state tournament. The Wildcats play Section 11 champion Smithtown Christian at 3:30 p.m. Monday at Southampton High School.
As he lifted the sectional championship trophy, DiBartolo showed no signs of knee and ankle injuries that he has battled throughout the season. His status was questionable after he limped off the court in the early minutes and stayed on the bench until the second quarter.
“I knew I had to come back,” said DiBartolo, who scored five points. “There was a chance that it could be my last game and I wasn't going to miss it.”
DiBartolo has guarded the opponent’s best scorer all season. Two games into the season, he added point guard responsibilities when starter Pete Pagan moved.
“He's got a lot of weight on his shoulders but he's carrying it pretty well,” Livingston Manor coach Adam Larson said. “He's got heart. He plays with heart and I'm really proud of his effort. He might not score double digits every night but he's always a defensive presence and he came up with one of the biggest plays in the end.”
Connor Gorr, a 6-foot-3 junior forward, led Livingston Manor with 16 points, 12 coming in the third quarter. LeRoy added 14 points and Austin Fulton had 12. Eighth-grader Jonah McDuffie scored a game-high 23 points, including five 3-pointers, for Chapel Field (3-10), which was making its first finals appearance since 2010.
“He's (Gorr) really been coming of age in the second half of the year,” Larson said. “He's a tough guy to move around down there. He works on his post game every day and he goes to summer camps and it's paying off.”