Plainsmen not perfect, but soar to 4-0

Shenendehowa coach Tony Dzikas was happy with the way his team bounced back Tuesday night, but not s

Shenendehowa coach Tony Dzikas was happy with the way his team bounced back Tuesday night, but not so pleased that the Plainsmen had to.

“We were a little lethargic starting the game,” Dzikas said after his Plainsmen overhauled Colonie, 50-31, in a matchup between the last two Suburban Council unbeatens. “That’s two games in a row, and if we’re not careful and keep doing it, someone is going to bite us. That was not the intensity we’re looking for.”

Manny Hernandez came off the bench to deliver 13 points and 10 rebounds. The senior scored the bulk of his points in key runs to end the second and third quarters as Shenendehowa extended its winning streak against league opponents to 16 games.

Jose Reyes added 12 points for Shenendehowa (3-0, 4-0), Matt Miner had nine, and Justin Barnett gave the hosts a defensive boost when he joined Hernandez off the bench with his team trailing, 8-0.

“We thought we could take them,” said Hernandez, a mus­cular 6-foot-3 forward. “It was a matter of executing, making sure we knew who we had on defense and making smart decisions on offense. Their 2-3 zone was really slowing us down.”

That zone, and Mike Branche’s inside work at the opposite end, enabled Colonie (3-1, 3-1) to open up a 20-11 advantage midway through the second quarter. Branche scored the first eight points of the contest on layups, sank another to push the Garnet Raiders ahead, 10-3, and the senior forward’s putback basket later on put the Plainsmen in a nine-point hole.

“After a while, we started to figure out their zone, and we did a little better job defensively on Branche,” said Dzikas, who saw Colonie’s sen­ior co-captain score 14 of his 16 points in the first half. “He’s a good ball player, and they were finding him early.”

Shenendehowa started to find the net with consistency after Branche’s putback, scoring 11 unanswered points to close the half before taking control with a 14-7, third-quarter spurt. Hernandez ended the first half with three straight baskets to make it 22-20, and closed the third frame with two hoops and a foul shot to increase the Plainsmen’s lead to 36-27.

“Throw him on the court, and he’s going to get a double- double,” Col­onie coach Doug Kilmer said of Hernandez, who had three first-half assists to go along with five rebounds and eight points. “He jumps. He’s strong. He’s quick to the ball. In our league, that’s a double-double.”

Miner sank a three-pointer and Hernandez fed Barnett for a layup before Hernandez completed the 11-0 run with three more baskets down low, his last coming on Josh Koopman’s assist with 21 seconds left.

“We got off to a slow start, and Justin and I were thinking, ‘We’ve got to provide a spark. We’ve got to get the team going,’ ” Hernandez said. “We got it together in the second quarter, and we busted it out in the third.”

Hernandez ended the third with a putback, a layup and a free throw. Reyes sank a short jumper and a three-pointer, and Miner had two free throws and a successful drive in a 9-2 thrust to start the period.

“They started to play better defense, and they rebounded,” Kilmer said of Shenendehowa’s comeback. “And as we got a little tired, our passes became a little softer, and that helped them, too. They had some steals on us.”

Shenendehowa finished with 10 steals, four from Dan Lee, who turned one of those into a layup for a 41-29 lead early in the fourth quarter. Barnett had three steals to go along with his season-high six points.

“Any point guard who is trying to run an offense is going to have a tough time when Justin is guarding them,” Dzikas said of his pesky 5-7 senior. “He doesn’t stop. He’s all energy. He gives us a spark out there.”

Lee came in averaging 13.6 points and managed five, while Miner came in averaging 20.3 points per outing. The Plainsmen had scored 74 points in their last two games, wins over Ballston Spa and Albany Academy, after putting up 64 in a triumph over Shaker.

Onome Okpodu scored nine points for Colonie.


Papuzza 1-0-2, Meeks 1-0-2, Salamone 1-0-2, Okpodu 3-3-9, Branche 8-0-16. Totals: 14-3-31.


Barnett 3-0-6, Brustle 0-1-1, Hernandez

6-1-13, Lee 2-0-5, Miller 1-0-2, Miner 3-2-9, Pierson 1-0-2, Reyes 5-0-12. Totals: 21-4-50.

Colonie 12  8  7  4 — 31

Shenendehowa  7 15 14 14 — 50

Three-point goals: Lee, Miner, Reyes 2.

Categories: High School Sports

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