Shenendehowa coach Tony Dzikas wasn’t about to tip his hand on the eve of the school’s biggest boys’ basketball game in years.
He’ll keep Guilderland waiting and wondering right up until the opening tip of tonight’s 7:30 Section II Class AA championship game at the Times Union Center.
“We want to make them work for their points,” said Dzikas. “We’ll try do what every good defensive team tries to do — take away what they want to do.”
How the Plainsmen go about that is among the questions to be answered in a game that will give the Suburban Council its first large-school area champ since Colonie in 2000. Will it be their matchup 3-2 zone, their amoeba-like diamond-and-one, a mix of both or something new?
“They’re a great defensive team,” said first-year Guilderland coach Mike Parks. “They’re big, long and athletic. Whether they play their 3-2 matchup or their diamond, we’ll have our work cut out for us.”
Shenendehowa (SC No. 1, 21-0) got the better of Guilderland (SC No. 2, 19-3) in their lone regular-season meeting, 56-43. That was among 19 games including two in the playoffs, that the Plainsmen held their opponent to 50 points or less.
“We had good looks. The problem is we shot 28 percent from the field,” said Parks. “We didn’t play our best, and obviously, they did a great job on defense, but we competed.”
Sophomore guard Michael Wine was a bright spot for the Dutchmen in the game at Shenendehowa with a season-high 19 points.
“Both teams struggled. It was not a great offensive thing to watch,” said Dzikas. “The atmosphere, though, that was something else.”
With Drew Lewis’ one-on-one effort and plenty of help defense, Shenendehowa limited Guilderland 1,000-point scorer Andrew Platek (24.2 ppg) to five that night. In 11 games since, Platek has generated at least 20 points eight times, with 26, 24 and 28 in Guilderland’s three sectionals wins.
“What helped us is after that loss, we saw that defense [diamond-and-one] five or six more times. What Shen did was like a blueprint,” said Parks. “We’ve had a chance to make adjustments and tweak some things.”
Platek’s 28 against Green Tech in the semifinals included a clutch three-pointer and a trio of foul shots in overtime that helped the Dutchmen win, 68-62, and avenge last year’s 65-56 title-game loss.
Green Tech (20-1) forced the overtime on late three-point baskets by Derrick Rowland and Naeem Pryor.
“That was huge. We got a little revenge from last year, no doubt,” said Parks. “Green Tech is tough, and we tried to give it away, but credit the kids. They shook it off and were ready to go [after the threes]. They played great in overtime.”
Andrew Sischo scored four of his 16 points in the OT. Guilderland’s 6-foot-8 junior also had 16 against CBA and 20 against Bishop Maginn in earlier tourney games.
“They’ve got a very good team,” said Dzikas. “They’ve got the big body [Sischo] who can be tough on the boards. Platek is what Platek is. He’s having a great season. They’ve got great role players who can shoot the ball and play hard at the defensive end.”
Shenendehowa has gotten a consistent boost from its frontline cast of 6-6 starter Brandon Fischer and energetic reserves Erik Kromer, Mike Gillooly, Matt Alverson and Mike Pizziketti. They’ll be rotating in and out tonight, with brothers Tom (15.8 ppg) and Kevin Huerter (16.9) joining guards Petar Bebic and Lewis.
“One of our advantages is we have a lot of size. We’ve got a lot of strong kids,” said Dzikas. “We can go 32 minutes with fresh bodies. We harp on them to not pace themselves.”
The Huerters combined for 27 points, Fischer matched his season high with 17 and Shenendehowa wore down Catholic Central in a 68-48 semifinal win. The Plainsmen last played for a title in 2010, and won their last of six in 1996.
“We’re focusing on the now more so than the history and all that,” said Dzikas. “I’m coaching a great group of kids, and I don’t want it to stop. They don’t want it to stop.
“If we play as well as we can possibly play, hitting shots and defending, we can be pretty a tough team to beat. “
Befort last year, Guilderland’s only other title-game appearance was in a 2004 loss to CBA.
“We talked about it last year going into that game. We’ve mentioned it again,” said Parks. “Getting to the Class AA finals is such a hard thing to do, and to win it, that would be a wonderful accomplishment.
“We’ve had a great run and played a lot of great teams. Hopefully, that’s gotten us ready.”
Categories: High School Sports