Red Raiders prove coach Loudis right

Mechanicville basketball coach Joe Loudis believed, and his overachieving Red Raiders delivered.
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Sectional basketball brackets

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Boys: Class AA, Class A, Class B, Class CC, Class C, Class D.

Girls: Class AA, Class A, Class B, Class CC, Class C, Class D.

Mechanicville basketball coach Joe Loudis believed, and his overachieving Red Raiders delivered.

Pat Marra and Josh Rougia stuck clutch three-point baskets in the fourth quarter, and defensively tough Mechanicville edged Col­onial Council rival Voorheesville in a rubber match for the Section II Class CC title, 42-37, Saturday night at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

“I’ve got to give him credit,” Marra, a senior forward, said of his hall of fame-bound coach. “He’s the only one who said we had a chance to win this thing in the beginning of the year. On the first day of practice, he even wore a championship shirt.”

Mechanicville (No. 3 seed, 18-5) never trailed over the final three quarters, but never could shake Voorheesville (No. 4, 16-7), either, in a tense, physical third battle between the teams.

“The bounces went in their

favor,” said Blackbirds coach Don Catellier. “The basketball gods were in their favor. My kids played their butts off and scrapped and clawed. There wasn’t much that separated us.”

“We both went 11-5 in the league. We got beat by the same teams,” said Loudis, who also guided the Red Raiders to Class CC sectional crowns in 1995 and 1996, and his 1973 Cohoes team won a banner, as well. “That’s a very good Voorheesville team we just beat.”

But when Voorheesville needed a basket, it never came. After those threes by Marra and Rougia helped boost Mechanicville’s lead to 41-36 with 2:51 left, the Blackbirds managed just one more point, a free throw by Evan Christner 43 seconds later.

“That’s been our downfall all year,” Catellier said. “We didn’t have a consistent outside shooter.”

Voorheesville’s strength is down low with 6-foot-4 Christner and 6-5 Ethan Mackey, and while the pair hauled down 25 rebounds between them, they netted only 15 points. Nick Kinsky topped the Blackbirds with 14 points, including two tying free throws with 5:24 left, while Marra and Nick Lettrick both had 12 for the Red Raiders, and Rougia finished with 11.

“When their big guys got the ball, we were sending three or four guys on them,” said Marra, the Class CC most valuable player, who added seven rebounds, three steals, three assists and two blocks. “We played great defense on them. We knew we had to.”

“We got in the passing lanes to try to deny them, and we collapsed on them,” Loudis said. “They killed us the last time we played.”

Marra stuck a dagger in the Blackbirds when his three-pointer dropped to make it 41-36 with 2:51 left. Earlier in the quarter, Rougia sank a three to break a 31-31 tie, putting the Red Raiders up for good at the 5:13 mark.

“We hit nothing in the first half,” Marra said. “I told Josh, ‘They’re going to fall.’”

“Pat is a good shooter, and Rougia is getting better and better,” Loudis said of the two holdovers from last season’s 6-16 team. “Those were big shots for us.”

Voorheesville had knotted the game twice in the third period at

21-21 and again at 24-24. Rougia converted a three-point play to break that 21-21 tie, and Marra popped a three to break the 24-24 leadlock.

“We bent three times, but we didn’t break,” Loudis said of his team’s response to those ties. “Last year we would have folded if someone tied us. This team isn’t that team.

“Last year we played not to lose, and we lost. This year we play to win. It’s a great bunch of kids who believe in each other.”

Rougia, Mackey and Christner were named to the all-tournament team.

Mechanicville won its last sectional title in 2001 (Class CC) under current Schuylerville coach Matt Sgambati, while Loudis’ Red Raiders reached the 2003 Class C final and lost to Lake George in overtime. Voorheesville won its last title (Class B) in 2005.

“It wasn’t that long ago that we were 9-6. We put a big string together and got to a meaningful game,” said Catellier, whose club beat No. 1 seed Schenectady Christian in the semifinals. “You always want to win your last game, but very few teams actually do.”

Mechanicville will take on Rensselaer in Tuesday’s Class CC-C playoff at the Civic Center. Loudis, who will be inducted into the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame later this month, will be looking to add to his 419 career wins.

MECHANICVILLE

Rougia 3-3-11, MacMillan 2-1-5, Grayson 0-2-2, Marra 5-0-12, Lettrick 4-4-12. Totals: 14-10-42.

VOORHEESVILLE

Kinsky 4-2-14, L. Mackey 2-0-5, Klembczyk 1-1-3, E. Mackey 3-3-9, Christner 2-2-6. Totals: 12-8-37.

Mechanicville 10  7 12 13–42

Voorheesville 10 3 13 11–37

Three-point goals: Rougia 2, Marra 2, Kinsky 4, L. Mackey.

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