CLIFTON PARK — Explosive third quarters proved decisive in each end of Friday’s varsity basketball doubleheader between Suburban Council rivals Saratoga Springs and Shenendehowa.
In the boys’ game, Saratoga Springs senior Matt Larkin made sure the Blue Streaks split the night’s games after Shenendehowa won the girls’ game to start things off. Larkin poured in four 3-pointers in quick succession in the third quarter, helping Saratoga Springs turn a halftime deficit into a double-digit lead heading into the fourth.
“Coach was just preaching attack mode all week,” Larkin said after Saratoga Springs’ 73-66 win. “Shen’s been known to throw different defenses [at you], so he didn’t want us just walking it up and trying to go through the sets [to] beat them in the half court.”
Instead, Saratoga Springs (15-1, 17-2) largely just shot over the top of the Shenendehowa (13-3, 15-4) defense. In picking up their 17th consecutive win, the Blue Streaks made 15 shots from behind the arc.
“We got guys who can hit shots,” said Saratoga Springs head coach Matt Usher, whose team had four players make multiple 3s.
Larkin made six 3s in scoring a game-high 24 points, while a dozen of senior Nick Chudy’s 17 points came on 3s.
“We haven’t beat Shen twice in a year in a while,” Larkin said.
Saratoga Springs won the first meeting between the teams, a December game which involved a late-game altercation that resulted in seven players and one assistant coach receiving one-game suspensions.
Friday’s game featured no such incidents and was a hard-fought contest from the start. Saratoga Springs threatened to pull away early with its first barrage of 3s, but Shenendehowa junior Abbas Merchant propelled the Plainsmen into halftime with a 28-27 lead. At one point, Merchant — who scored 20 points for the night — scored 15 consecutive Shenendehowa points in the first half.
After halftime, though, Larkin got going to help the Blue Streaks keep their winning streak alive. Saratoga Springs outscored Shenendehowa 24-13 in the third quarter, during which the visitors made six 3s.
“In the second half,” Usher said, “we did a nice job making the extra pass.”
Shenendehowa sophomore Jake Reinisch scored all 11 of his points in the fourth quarter to help the Plainsmen’s comeback attempt, but Saratoga Springs maintained at least a two-possession lead for the duration of the period.
Coming up, Larkin said the Blue Streaks want to finish off the regular season with their winning streak intact — and, then, keep it rolling into the Section II Class AA tournament.
“We got to get these Ws,” Larkin said.
Tudor’s 26 leads Plainsmen
Already up 32-19 at halftime, the Shenendehowa girls’ quickly turned a comfortable lead into a dominant one after halftime.
“We just started clicking,” Shenendehowa senior Alex Tudor said after her team’s 69-34 win. “Everyone.”
Shenendehowa started the third quarter with a 15-2 run, then later added a 21-2 stretch during a second half in which the Plainsmen led by as many as 40 points.
“We wanted to take it to them before they took it to us,” Shenendehowa senior Megan Gillooley said.
In the team’s’ first meeting this season, Saratoga Springs (10-5, 13-6) dealt Shenendehowa (14-1, 17-2) its lone league loss. This time, Tudor scored 26 points, Gillooley added 18 and senior Cam Tooley contributed 14 in a win for the Plainsmen.
Gillooley helped Shenendehowa limit Saratoga Springs sophomore star Dolly Cairns to a dozen points, while Tudor led the defensive charge against Blue Streaks junior Kerry Flaherty, who had five.
“We kept switching different kids onto them and they did a great job,” said Shenendehowa head coach Joe Murphy, whose team scored the game’s first eight points and never trailed.
The Plainsmen won despite playing again without 6-foot-4 junior Cat Almeida, who has missed the team’s last several games with an injured right foot. Murphy said the team remains hopeful Almeida could return for the postseason.
“Hopefully we can have her,” Murphy said, “but we don’t know.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS 73,
Larkin 6-6-24, Hart 4-2-10, Ni. Chudy 5-3-17, Lawton 3-0-9, Na. Chudy 2-3-7, Fox 2-0-6. Totals: 22-14-73.
Nails 1-1-3, Merchant 7-3-20, Hulbert 1-4-6, Monroe 2-0-5, Sangare 4-0-11, Reinisch 4-0-11, Altenburger 5-0-10. Totals: 24-8-66.
Saratoga Springs 14 13 24 22 — 73
Shenendehowa 14 14 13 25 — 66
Three-point goals: Larkin 6, Ni. Chudy 4, Lawton 3, Fox 2, Merchant 3, Monroe, Sangare 3, Reinisch 3.
SARATOGA SPRINGS 34
Cairns 5-1-12, Vamvalis 1-0-2, Flaherty 2-0-5, Gennoy 2-1-5, McGinn 1-0-2, Barringer 1-6-8. Totals: 12-8-34.
Wagoner 1-0-2, Milham 1-0-2, Watrobski 1-0-3, Tooley 5-0-14, Drum 1-0-2, Gillooley 8-0-18, Tudor 10-4-26, Slepski 1-0-2. Totals: 28-4-69.
Saratoga Springs 10 9 8 5 — 34
Shenendehowa 17 15 24 13 — 69
Three-point goals: Cairns, Flaherty, Watrobski, Tooley 4, Gillooley 2, Tudor 2.
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Michael Kelly at [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.
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Categories: High School Sports, Sports