GLENS FALLS — A bunch of free throws in the fourth quarter were a big part of Saratoga Springs’ 60-53 Section II Class AA boys’ basketball semifinal win over Shenendehowa Tuesday night, and Charlie Beck’s performance earlier on was, too.
The reserve senior guard was nearly perfect from 3-point territory in the second quarter, when he scored 14 of his season-high 17 points as the Blue Streaks soared before a gallant comeback by the Plainsmen at Cool Insuring Arena.
“I was just shooting the ball with no hesitation,” Beck said. “My teammates got me open and I let it fly. Coach told me I had the green light.”
Beck’s season high before Tuesday was nine points in a 56-54 loss to Niskayuna earlier this month. Beck hit three 3-pointers in that contest, which was also a season best before he went 4-for-5 from beyond the arc in his second-quarter outburst that helped the Blue Streaks (No. 2 seed, 19-3) open up a 29-15 advantage.
“We knew he would be a factor with the [3-2] zone Shenendehowa plays,” Saratoga coach Matt Usher said. “He’s a guy we were hoping would stretch their defense and open up the inside for us, even if he didn’t score much. In the first half, he hit some big shots.”
Beck scored the first 14 of Saratoga’s 16 second-quarter points, and could have had a few more had his late baseline jumper not clanged off the rim.
“In sectional ball, you need someone outside of the scouting report to hit shots,” Shenendehowa coach Tony Dzikas said.
Saratoga hit a load of free throws in the final quarter, going 24-for-30, and 20-for-26 after Shenendehowa got within 38-35 on a drive by James Altenburger.
“We like to make it interesting for some reason,” Usher said of the big lead his team let slip away. “We made some big free throws when we needed them.”
Saratoga was already in a good spot, leading 13-2, when Beck came off the bench and began to do significant offensive damage in the second frame. The third frame was almost all Shenendehowa, which closed on a 12-0 run after Saratoga’s Mike Rogan opened it with a drive and a foul shot.
“They came out and pressed us, and caught us off guard in the third quarter,” Usher said.
“At the half, we didn’t talk about Xs and Os. It was about getting after it and showing heart,” Dzikas said. “We played all man — you haven’t seen that in a while — and pressed. Guys got after it. They didn’t hang their heads.”
Shenendehowa (No. 3, 15-7) didn’t get out of its deep hole, either, despite its determined play.
“The start was uncharacteristically bad for us,” Dzikas said after his team’s hopes for a repeat title were dashed. “We fought back. We couldn’t get over the hump.”
“When we were at Shenendehowa, we were down at the half and came back to win,” said Beck, who scored on a putback and went 1 of 2 from the line in the fourth quarter. “We knew they could come back.”
Eighteen seconds had elapsed in the second quarter when Shenendehowa managed its first field goal, coming on a baseline jumper by Lucas Seyoum. Beck followed with a 3 and a layup to begin his memorable performance.
“It feels really nice to contribute,” Beck said. “It happened to be me today. It feels amazing.”
Aidan Holmes led Saratoga with 22 points, which included a pair of 3s when his team went up 13-2 in the first quarter, and a 12-for-14 line showing in the last quarter. Altenburger scored 12 points to lead Shenendehowa, Seyoum had 11 and Jake Reinisch and Andrew Martin both added 10.
Saratoga and Bethlehem (No. 1, 21-1) will play for the title Saturday at 6 p.m. after the Eagles survived a 5-for-18 free-throw effort in a 50-48 win over CBA (No. 4, 16-7).
Mike Ortale scored 13 points for Bethlehem including a foul shot with 7.7 seconds that left gave the Eagles a 50-48 lead. CBA’s final bid ended when Peter O’Toole missed a short jumper at the buzzer.
Jordan King paced the Brothers with 26 points. CBA had dealt Bethlehem it only regular season loss.
One of the game’s key plays came with 9.3 seconds left when, after a Bethlehem miss, Eagles senior Justin Barnes batted the ball off a CBA player at the end line while sprawling out of bounds. That led to Ortale’s free throw.
SARATOGA SPRINGS 60, SHENENDEHOWA 53
Martin 3-2-10, Seyoum 5-0-11, Ray 1-0-2, Sangare 3-0-6, Dzikas 0-2-2, Reinisch 4-1-10, Altenburger 5-2-12. Totals: 21-7-53.
Beck 6-1-17, Holmes 3-14-22, Rogan 2-4-9, Chudy 0-6-6, Fox 1-4-6. Totals: 12-29-60.
Shenendehowa 2 13 12 26 — 53
Saratoga 13 16 3 28 — 60
BETHLEHEM 50, CBA 48
Barnes 2-0-5, Salo 4-1-4, Davis 0-1-1, Ortale 5-1-13, Zonca 1-0-3, Ryan 2-0-5, LaClair 5-1-11, Signor 1-1-3, Totals: 20-5-50.
King 9-6-26, O’Toole 5-0-11, Hagen 1-0-3, Tironi 0-2-2, Signor 3-0-6. Totals: 18-8-48.
Bethlehem 17 6 15 12 — 50
CBA 12 16 10 10 — 48