Men's Basketball

Jura Comes Up Big For Hudson Valley; Vikings No. 2 Seed At Regionals

Medici earns Coach of the Year status; Walden and Pitaniello named to All-Conference squad

UTICA, February 21 – Lansingburgh High graduate Chris Jura willed the Vikings to victory against Mohawk Valley Community College Saturday afternoon. The point guard played much bigger than 5-foot-10, as he's listed, and scored eight points in the game's final three-and-a-half minutes, leading Hudson Valley Community College to a 79-77 victory and the Mountain Valley Conference title.

The Vikings (22-5 and ranked 16th in the nation among NJCAA Division III teams) had captured the Eastern Division of the Mountain Valley Conference and Mohawk Valley (26-3 and ranked fifth) had finished atop the Western Division.

Both teams begin play in the Region III Tournament, Friday at SUNY Cobleskill, with the winner of the 10-team tourney heading to Nationals. Hudson Valley is the No. 2 seed and will face the winner of a game between No. 7 Broome Community College and No. 10 SUNY Canton. Hudson Valley, who will play at 6 p.m. Friday, is the defending Region III champion. T

he rankings for the Region III tourney are as follows:
1) Mohawk Valley Community College
2) Hudson Valley Community College
3) SUNY Cobleskill
4) Corning Community College
5) Fulton Montgomery Community College
6) Jefferson Community College
7) Broome Community College
8) Cayuga Community College
9) Herkimer County Community College
10) SUNY Canton.

Against Mohawk Valley Saturday, Jura scored three go-ahead baskets in the game's final 3:29. With Hudson Valley trailing by one point, Jura penetrated to the foul line and pulled up for a jumper. He hit the shot and drew a foul. Jura converted the free throw, giving Hudson Valley a 67-65 edge. Then, with 1:36 left and the Vikings again trailing by a point, Jura hit a three-pointer from the corner, putting Hudson Valley ahead by two.

And, with just 13 seconds showing on the clock – and Hudson Valley trailing by a point – Jura took an inbound pass near the top of the key. He dribbled in place as the clock wound down, and drove to the basket with about five seconds left. Jura spun and flipped up a one-handed layup with his back to the basket. The ball rolled in and Hudson Valley had the lead again, 78-77. Jura, who finished with 20 points, was mobbed by his teammates as Mohawk Valley took a timeout.

Mohawk Valley got off one last shot before the buzzer sounded – a half-court heave that missed the backboard. La Salle Institute grad Dennis Pitaniello, who led Hudson Valley with 25 points, including three 3-pointers, added a free throw before the contest ended, giving the Vikings a two-point win. Dave Walden, an Albany High product, had 15 points, 12 rebounds and four steals. New Jersey's Tom Perren contributed 10 points and R.J. Mann of Canajoharie had 10 rebounds.

Mohawk Valley's Ray Bryant, the Mountain Valley Conference Player of the Year, led all scorers with 39 points. The game featured 30 lead changes, including 18 in the second half.

Before the game, Hudson Valley's Vince Medici was named Mountain Valley Conference Coach of the Year. Medici, in his fifth season with the Vikings, has lead Hudson Valley to its second consecutive season with 20 or more wins. Walden was named to the All-Conference First Team; Pitaniello earned All-Conference Second Team status.

Hudson Valley Community College, located in Troy, offers more than 50 degree and certificate programs in four academic divisions; Business; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Sciences; and Liberal Arts and Sciences. One of more than 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, Hudson Valley Community College has an enrollment of more than 9,000 students each year, and is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and worker retraining.