Stillwater is headed to another Section II championship game, but this trip, few could have expected.
Nick D’Alberto played the semifinal hero for the second time in three years, dropping in 28 points and the winning basket in the Warriors’ 54-52 Class CC upset of Hoosick Falls Monday night at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
The dramatic win against the Wasaren League champs was Stillwater’s third straight against a higher seed, with its sectional success following a five-game slide to close out the regular season.
“Stillwater has a lot of heart. A lot of people counted us out, but we keep fighting,” said D’Alberto, whose three-point basket with 64 seconds left created the final margin. “Sure, we dropped our last five games, but we had some great practices after that, and we knew it was sectionals. The switch clicked.”
Hoosick Falls (No. 3 seed, 15-6) humbled Stillwater (No. 10, 13-10) to end the regular season, 64-35, for its second win over the Warriors. The Panthers appeared headed for another one-sider, leading by 16 three times in the second quarter, before the Warriors answered with baskets, defensive stops and sheer will.
“We knew our season was on the line. To pack it up wouldn’t be us,” said D’Alberto, a 6-foot-2 senior guard who added five rebounds and four steals. “I’m proud of what we did. I’m proud of Stillwater basketball.”
Stillwater got 35 points from D’Alberto in a 75-65 win over No. 7 Schoharie, and held off a furious rally to edge No. 2 Schenectady Christian, the Western Athletic Conference overall champ, 54-52, before prevailing again Monday.
“So what if we’re a No. 10 seed. We keep saying, ‘Why not us,’ ” said Stillwater coach Dave Cook. “We’re playing with a lot of confidence, right now.”
Brian Byer scored 12 points, and fellow junior Justin Deuel had six points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in the comeback triumph, which pushed Stillwater into its third title game in four years opposite Maple Hill (No. 1, 21-1). D’Alberto helped Stillwater get there in 2007 with the deciding layup in a 60-58 semifinal win over Cambridge.
“I was a sophomore, and we were playing Cambridge in this round. We were down by 17 or something like that and came back, just like tonight,” D’Alberto said. “All I remember is the ball landed in my hands, and I got a layup.”
D’Alberto won it from long distance Monday, draining his fifth three-point basket from the top of the circle after Hoosick Falls star big man Kevin McMahon (13 points, 12 rebounds, four steals, two blocks) had tied the contest at 51-51 on a layup.
“From the time we went on that second-quarter spurt, I was feeling it,” said D’Alberto. “On that play, I had room, and it felt good coming off my hand. I knew if it went in, it would be huge.”
McMahon hit one of two foul shots with 36.5 seconds left to get the Panthers within 54-52, and after D’Alberto missed the front end of a one-and-one, he came up with a steal, but double-dribbled with 10.7 seconds left. Hoosick Falls went for the win on its final possession, but Tanner Finney missed a three from the left wing, and the ball went out of bounds off a Hoosick Falls player to end their bid.
“This is extra special,” said D’Alberto. “The week before the sectionals we brought it together, and we’ve really got it going.”
Hoosick Falls had its offense going early on, using six outside jumpers to go up, 16-7, after one quarter, and 27-11 on a second-quarter layup by Finney (13 points). Stillwater ended the half with a 15-7 run which included a trio of three-point baskets, two free throws and a layup by D’Alberto to make it 34-26.
“I thought it was real important to get it under double digits at the half,” said Cook. “Then, we scored on our first possession of the third quarter, and we scored again, and we were right back in it.”
Deuel connected on a pair of threes in a 9-0 spurt to start the third quarter as Stillwater took its first lead since 5-4, at 35-34. A 7-3 run to end the quarter had the Warriors up, 47-43.
McMahon’s layup capped an 8-4 Hoosick Falls run to start the final frame, and tied the contest for the sixth time at 51-51.
Stillwater won its last Section II championship in 2006 en route to the state final four, while its 2007 season ended with a double-overtime loss to Schenectady Christian in the Class CC final.
Trent Tibbits hit four threes and totaled 21 points as Maple Hill defeated Lake George (No. 5, 20-4) in the second semifinal, 80-56. The state’s No. 3-ranked team will meet Stillwater Saturday at 5:30 at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Tibbits nailed a trio of threes and scored 14 points in a 22-14 second-quarter run which boosted Maple Hill’s halftime advantage to 44-27. Chris Despart and David Briggs added 14 and 12 points, respectively, for the Patroon Conference champs.
STILLWATER 54, HOOSICK FALLS 52
Byer 5-1-12, D’Alberto 10-3-28, Deuel 2-0-6, Smith 3-0-6, Britt 1-0-2. Totals: 21-4-54.
Shiland 3-2-8, Bartolotta 2-2-8, McMahon 5-3-13, Goldstein 4-0-8, Rasmus 1-0-2, Finney 5-0-13. Totals: 20-7-52.
Stillwater 7 19 21 7 — 54
Hoosick Falls 16 18 9 9 — 52
Three-point goals: Byer, D’Alberto 5, Deuel 2, Bartolotta 2, Finney 3.
MAPLE HILL 80, LAKE GEORGE 56
Mastrantoni 2-0-5, Freihofer 2-1-7, Gaibrois 3-0-8, Dorman 0-1-1, Miller 3-4-10, Nelson 2-8-12, McGowan 4-5-13. Totals: 16-19-56.
Briggs 5-0-12, Curtin 1-0-2, Danaher 4-1-9, Despart 7-0-14, Donnelly 1-1-3, Dugan 1-0-2, Eldert 1-1-3, Jasiewicz 1-0-2, Prinzo 0-2-2, Schultz 5-0-10, Tibbits 8-1-21. Totals: 34-6-80.
Lake George 13 14 19 10 — 56
Maple Hill 22 22 17 19 — 80
Three-point goals: Freihofer 2, Gaibrois 2, Mastrantoni, Briggs 2, Tibbits 4.
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Categories: High School Sports