ROTTERDAM — Methodical at one end, ultra-aggressive at the other.
With that successful mix,
Mohonasen carved out a bounce-back 55-36 win over Suburban Council White Division boys’ basketball rival Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Tuesday night.
Mohonasen maintained its grip on first place in the division,
improving to 7-5 with two games left, and at 10-6 overall, reached double-digit victories for the second year in a row.
“We were patient, and we played defense,” said third-year Mohonasen coach Ken Dagostino. “We got big stops, and we hit our shots.”
“Ken had his kids well-prepared. Let’s give them some credit,” said BH-BL coach Bill Martin, whose Spartans held off the Mighty Warriors, 63-58, on Dec. 11. “They played well defensively, and they executed better on offense than we did.”
Mohonasen was at its best over the final 12 minutes, outscoring Burnt Hills, 22-5, to pull away from a 33-31 advantage. That put-away surge included a 6-2 spurt to close the third frame, and fourth-quarter runs of 6-0 and 10-0.
“I credit that to our defense,” said Mohonasen junior forward Jordan Macejka. “Last year, we were a good defensive team, and coming into this year, I don’t know if coach thought we could be as good, but we have.
“Every cutter, we switched off, and we got out on their shooters. We made sure everyone was covered.”
Burnt Hills (5-7, 7-9) managed just one field goal in the fourth quarter, a layup by David Fischer, in between the 6-0 and 10-0 runs. The 36 points were a season low for the Spartans.
“Our offense never got on track,” Martin said after BH-BL’s third straight setback. “They didn’t allow us to do anything.”
“Our guards go 5-foot-7, 5-8 and 5-9. Because of our size, or lack of it, we have to play good defense,” said Dagostino, whose team foiled BH-BL with a variety of defensive looks. “When we play solid, we stay in games. We have a chance to win games.”
Mohonasen had won eight games in a row before Friday’s 61-48 loss at Bethlehem.
“After losing at Bethlehem, we wanted to get this,” said Macejka, who scored six of his 11 points down the stretch. “We needed this win to get back on track, plus, it was big for the division.
“We came in tonight thinking we needed to win our next three for the White Division. Now, it’s one down and two to go.”
In search of its first league banner since 1996, Mohonasen plays at Averill Park (6-6, 11-6) Friday before ending its division schedule Tuesday at home against Niskayuna (5-7, 7-9).
“Even though we beat both of them already, we can’t take them lightly,” Macejka said. “We’ve got to come out strong.”
“Last year, we were right there. It came down to us and Averill Park, and they got us,” Dagostino said of the division race. “We’d like to get that.”
Though it never trailed,
Mohonasen got its offense clicking in high gear Tuesday night after Mike Pelletier’s two free throws drew BH-BL within 33-31 with 3:57 left in the third quarter.
Macejka scored on a drive, Nick Battaglia followed with two free throws to kick-start the 22-5 flurry and Macejka’s baseline jumper put the hosts up by double digits for the first time, 43-33, with 6:45 remaining in the game. Battaglia’s three-point basket with 4:35 to play made it 50-35.
“At Bethlehem, we didn’t do the mental part of the game. We didn’t realize that the 35-second shot clock is a gift,” said Dagostino. “We need to use it like we did tonight. We were very patient, and our floor spacing was very good. We didn’t run a lot of sets, but we were good at waiting to see what was there.”
Mohonasen displayed its balance during the key run, with Battaglia also generating six points, Anthony Robustiano scoring four, Nikolaos Menagias dropping in a hook shot, and Cameron Couball and Robert Tedesco both making two from the line.
“They did a nice job of attacking us in the paint,” said Martin.
Couball totaled 18 points, five rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Jaret Falkowitz scored nine points for BH-BL, and Pelletier and John Della Pia both had eight.
“This is a big disappointment for us. We had to win three to have a chance to win the White Division,” said Martin. “This knocks us out, and it could have a negative effect on our sectional seeding.”
Falkowitz 4-0-9, Pelletier 2-4-8, Maloney 0-1-1, Della Pia 4-0-8, Fischer 2-0-4, Layton 2-2-6. Totals: 14-7-36.
Couball 7-3-18, Tedesco 3-2-8, Battaglia 2-4-9, Macejka 5-1-11, Robustiano 2-2-7,
Menagias 1-0-2. Totals: 20-12-55.
Burnt Hills 11 12 10 3 — 36
Mohonasen 12 14 13 16 — 55
Three-point goals: Falkowitz, Couball, Battaglia, Robustiano.