Staff Writer
OCEAN CITY — To most basketball teams, turnovers are kind of like plantar fasciitis — not a reoccuring problem you want to have. But Pleasantville boys coach Butch Warner knows that with the frenetic style his Greyhounds play, there are going to be turnovers. And if his players keep putting the ball in the hoop like they did in a dominating 80-50 win over Howell to lead off the 21st Ocean City PBA Tipoff Classic on Saturday afternoon at Ocean City High School, he’s willing to live with double-digit giveaways.
Pleasantville (1-0) had 22 turnovers, but forced the Rebels into 34 miscues and scored 31 points off those turnovers to blow the game wide open with a 42-18 advantage through the second and third quarters, including 22-7 in the second.

Middle Township transfer Jalen Freeman notched a double-double in his first game at Pleasantville, scoring 20 points and adding 10 rebounds in the Greyhounds’ 80-50 win over Howell. (Glory Days Magazine photo/Dave O’Sullivan)

“We’re fast and we have a lot of seniors who are more mature this year. We’re going to turn the ball over with our style of play, but the defense was outstanding. We’re a defensive team and we had some good on-the-ball pressure and took away the wings. We didn’t want them to get any second looks at the basket. We tried to cut off everything (they were doing),” Warner said. “We’re quick and I have kids who might not be as offensively gifted (as the starters) but defensively they are on the same level, every last one of them, so that gives us an advantage in that way because they were coming in and getting steals.”
Pleasantville was led by Middle Township transfer Jalen Freeman, who finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and four steals, but the Greyhounds also got some key contributions of the bench. The bench players combined for 23 points, four assists, 14 rebounds and eight steals.
“It’s great and that makes things easier for us. Once the bench is rolling, that makes things a lot easier on the starters,” said starting senior forward Jacob Valeus, who had 13 points, five boards and three steals. “All we have to do is play defense and build off that. We just have to play defense and work hard. Every day in practice we work hard on defense, and we just have to remain focused. Once you start playing good defense, you can play fast.”

Senior Jacob Valeus, who finished with 13 points, throws down a dunk in the first quarter. (Glory Days Magazine photo/Dave O’Sullivan)

Howell hung with the Greyhounds in the first quarter, tying the game at 15 late in the quarter, but Pleasantville scored the final bucket and held the lead the rest of the way. Valeus scored a traditional three-point play to push the lead to 22-15, and later in the second quarter Alejandro Rosado scored two straight baskets in transition as the lead swelled to 31-16. Elijah Jones added a steal and dunk late in the first half to give the Greyhounds a 39-22 lead heading into the break. In the second half, Freeman began to take over, and by the end of the third quarter Pleasantville had raced out to a 58-30 lead. Rosado finished with 10 points and Sahmir Jones and Sam Growalt combined for 14 more.
“Freeman has been a tremendous help, he played very good defense and brings great energy,” Valeus said. “He’s a great add-on piece for us. We’ve been playing together all summer, and since the day he came this summer we’ve just gelled. We just want to be one team and have the chemistry remain high.”
“He’s an amazing defender and his energy is unbelievable. It’s contagious. Everybody is buying in when they see him flying around the floor and diving. He helps a lot because it takes a lot pressure of Sahmir and Jacob,” Warner said. “They both have a lot more freedom on the offensive end when he’s out there. He’s making all of them look good. He and Sahmir is a good combination in the back court.”
Pleasantville has a big week coming up, as the Greyhounds have road games at Delsea Regional on Tuesday and at Wildwood Catholic, one of the top teams in South Jersey, on Thursday to kick off their Cape-Atlantic League United Conference schedule.
Contact Dave O’Sullivan:; on Twitter @GDsullysays