Neither Shaker nor Schenectady played four quarters of efficient basketball Wednesday night at the Pat Riley Sports Center in a boys’ Class AA first-round Section II tournament game.
The telling tale was that the Blue Bison did their finest work over the final two quarters, after the Patriots were at their best over the first two.
“We played a bad first half, but the good thing was we were only down by four,” said Shaker coach Jeff Holmes, after his team rallied for a 62-53 win. “We regrouped in the second half and played the way we wanted. We’re a blue-collar team, and we started to get loose balls and rebounds. We weren’t letting them drive. We were successful doing the little things.”
Shaker (Suburban Council No. 5 seed, 10-11) limited Schenectady (Big 10 No. 4
seed, 9-12) to one field goal in the third quarter and followed with a 23-13 fourth-quarter run to advance to Sunday’s quarterfinals while ending a lengthy sectional streak for the Patriots.
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“We just didn’t put 32 minutes together,” said a dejected Schenectady coach Mark Sausville, whose Patriots held a 32-28 lead at the break. “Putting 32 minutes together has been a problem all year. Even in some of the games we won, it wasn’t a full 32-minute effort.”
The last time the Patriots failed to win at least one sectional game was in 1999, the year after their first state title run, when Bethlehem pulled a stunning upset at the Riley Center. Schenectady kept its sectional streak alive last season with a play-in triumph at Queensbury before losing at Saratoga Springs.
“Our guys played hard, but let’s give Shaker credit,” said Sausville. “They ran their stuff. They handled our pressure. They made shots.”
Derrick Millinghaus made Schenectady’s only shot from the field in the third quarter, a layup, and two free throws by Chris Lewis soon after gave the hosts a 38-33 advantage. Shaker closed within 40-39 at the end of the quarter, and opened the last with a 13-3 spurt from which Schenectady could not recover.
“In that third quarter, we got out of what we wanted to do,” said Sausville. “We were a little impatient and settled for jump shots.”
Shaker’s Janique Lanier opened the fourth quarter with a layup, John Weinheimer sank a jumper and Ryan Sullivan made two from the line as the Blue Bison worked their advantage to 45-40. Mark Blair converted a three-point play for the Pats, but Shaker responded with a layup by Lanier and two free throws by Sullivan.
Sausville was whistled for a technical foul shortly after that while arguing a foul call, and with 4:04 left, Weinheimer made three foul shots.
“I thought Eric did a great job of getting the ball in the right spots and hitting his free throws,” Holmes said of the senior guard, who was limited to four points in Shaker’s 61-50 win over the Pats at the Shenendehowa Tournament semifinals. “He was a pivotal player for us in the second half.”
Shaker ended up going 15-for-20 from the line in the final quarter, with Weinheimer going 8-for-10. Weinheimer finished with 15 point, all but two coming after the intermission, while Sullivan delivered 16 points and Robert Johnson had seven points and 10 rebounds in Shaker’s fifth win in six outings.
“We played them in our first game of the year. We realized this would be a tough game,” said Holmes. “We were up to the task. The guys were ready.”
Millinghaus had 17 points, including 10 in the opening half, and Lewis, one of four seniors on the squad, finished with 10 points, five rebounds and three blocked shots.
“We’ve got work to do in the offseason,” said Sausville, who has had consecutive losing seasons after guiding the Pats to eight straight campaigns with 16 wins or more. “Hopefully we’ll come back next season and be better. I’m disappointed right now. We’re all disappointed.”
Shaker plays Guilderland Sunday at 4 at the Times Union Center.
Bonomo 1-0-2, Gardner 2-1-5, Hooks 1-0-3, Johnson 3-1-7, Lanier 4-2-10, McFadden 2-0-4, Sullivan 5-5-16, Weinheimer 3-8-15. Totals: 21-17-62.
Blair 2-2-6, Blanchard 3-0-6, Davis 1-0-2, Jackson 0-1-1, A. Lewis 2-2-7, C. Lewis 3-4-10, Millinghaus 8-1-17, Boggs 1-2-4. Totals: 20-12-53.
Shaker 14 14 11 23 — 62
Schenectady 16 16 8 13 — 53
Three-point baskets: Hooks, Sullivan, Weinheimer, A. Lewis.