Third-period run sets up Spartans
BALLSTON SPA Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s first road victory of the season included a superb comeback by the Spartans, another by Ballston Spa and some anxious moments in the end.
The Spartans knocked down seven three-point baskets in a third-quarter rally, and Austin Nydegger made two key plays after the Scotties tied it before the junior sweated out a last-second shot in a 57-56 Suburban Council North Division win Friday night.
“The other day we worked so hard and got there, but we couldn’t finish,” said Burnt Hills coach Gary Bynon, whose Spartans erased all of a 12-point second-half deficit in an eventual 72-67 loss at Colonie Tuesday. “I can’t say enough about our kids. They go out and play so hard. They’re competitors.”
Burnt Hills overcame a 26-18 halftime deficit with a 29-10 third-quarter burst that featured four threes from Robbie Knightes. Ballston Spa came back from its 47-36 hole to tie the game twice, at 51-51 and 53-53, and Nydegger pushed the Spartans ahead on a short jumper with 1:37 left.
After a free throw by Ballston Spa’s Andre Edgerton, Nydegger fed Max Batty for a layup to give Burnt Hills a 57-54 lead with 52 seconds remaining.
“We played a good game. We just made crucial mistakes at crucial times,” said Ballston Spa coach John Lea. “We’ve been in so many close games. We’ve got to learn how to win.”
The Scotties had opportunities to score more after Josh Quesada missed the front end of a one-and-one, yet when Jeremy Mendrick was fouled attempting a three-pointer, he made two of three from the line with 5.9 seconds left. Nydegger missed the front end of a one-and-one after that, and Mendrick’s three from the right wing to win it at the buzzer missed.
“We had an opportunity to tie it and an opportunity to win it. We got a good look,” said Lea. “We fought to the end.”
“I play with Jeremy, and I knew he wanted to make that shot after missing the free throw,” said Nydegger, a 6-foot-2 swingman who finished with 16 points, three assists and three steals. “It would have been all on me if that shot goes in.”
Just about everything Burnt Hills (3-5, 4-6) put up went in during its third-quarter blitz, and the Spartans bothered the Scotties (2-6, 3-6) with their pressure defense. The Spartans started the period with an 8-0 run, ended it with a 7-0 run and rattled off 14 unanswered points in between.
“In the third quarter they came out and pushed us pretty hard,” said Lea. “Their defensive intensity got to us. We put our heads down for a little while.”
Nydegger scored eight points in the third quarter, David Wellington nailed a pair of threes and Eric Dillon sank another to go with Knightes’ four long-distance baskets. Dillon and Knights started the quarter with quick threes, and in the 14-0 run, Knightes sandwiched threes around both of Wellington’s.
“That was just good ball movement,” Nydegger said of BH-BL’s productivity. “They were playing good defense.”
Ballston Spa started the fourth quarter with a 15-4 surge, when Edgerton and George Kernochan both netted four points. Mendrick hit two free throws to cap the run and tie the game at 51, and after Knights hit a short jumper for BH-BL, Mendrick’s drive tied it again at 53-53 with 1:50 left.
“Credit to Ballston Spa for coming back. That can’t be forgotten,” said Bynon. “John kept his kids in it.”
Knightes led BH-BL with 19 points, the senior’s 14th straight double-digit game going back to last season. Knightes was scoreless until late in the second quarter, when his three kick-started a closing 7-2 run.
“At the half, coach said, ‘We’re a team,’ ” said Nydegger. “He likes to say, ‘Don’t play for me, play for we,’ and that’s what we did. It was team offense and team defense that got us back in it.”
“We’re nothing without each other,” said Bynon, after the Spartans third win in four games.
Kernochan and Jesse Flynt hit threes to begin a 10-0 game-starting run for the Scotties, and Ballston Spa led by 13 twice in the second quarter at 19-6 on a drive by Kernochan and 24-11 on a layup by the 6-foot-4 Edgerton.
Edgerton had 14 points, seven rebounds and four blocks, and Mendrick collected 12 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and five steals.
BURNT HILLS-BALLSTON LAKE
Wellington 4-1-11, Quesada 0-2-2, Knightes 7-0-19, Batty 1-0-2, Nydegger 8-0-16, E. Dillon 3-0-7. Totals: 23-3-57.
Mendrick 3-5-12, Bingham 2-0-3, Flynt 3-2-10, Kernochan 4-0-9, Tucker 1-0-2, Edgerton 5-4-14, J. Dillon 2-0-5. Totals: 20-11-56.
BH-BL 6 12 29 10 — 57
Ballston Spa 13 13 10 20 — 56
Three-point goals: Wellington 2, Knightes 5, E. Dillon, Mendrick, Flynt 2, Kernochan, J. Dillon.