ROTTERDAM — It wasn’t a Kirvin Cup boys’ basketball clash, but Tuesday night’s matchup between Schalmont and Mohonasen certainly had the feel of one.
The Sabres built an 18-point second-half lead, lost every bit of it, and regrouped just enough to eke out a 68-64 Colonial Council win on the Mighty Warriors’ court.
“I’ve got a group of fighters,” Mohonasen coach Graham Macbeth said. “Being a first-year coach, they have my back.”
But with a couple of clutch hoops late, Schalmont got the win, its third in as many games over Mohonasen since the Mighty Warriors joined the league in the 2018-19 season. The Rotterdam rivals had met annually before that at Mohonasen’s Christmas-time Kirvin Cup, and so many of those games, like Tuesday’s, were decided late.
“We never had a doubt,” Schalmont senior Jake Sanford said after scoring a career-high 25 points. “We had the mentality that we were going to pull it out.”
The Schalmont girls built a big first-half lead like the boys did, and eased to a 56-33 victory in the first game of the doubleheader.
“We’re rivals,” Schalmont sophomore Payton Graber said. “We wanted to win this game.”
Tuesday’s second game had the look of a Schalmont (1-1, 2-2) runaway when Sanford dropped in a layup for a 45-27 Sabres lead early in the third quarter. Mohonasen (1-1, 2-2) responded with a 14-0 run in which Alexander Gannon scored seven of his 15 points to change the complexion of the game.
“We were down 20 to Colonie and got it to three,” Macbeth said. “We were down against Burnt Hills and beat them. Proud of my boys. They don’t quit.”
Schalmont worked its lead to 53-46 at the end of three quarters when Anthony Ruzzo hit a late 3, and another 3 by Sanford extended the Sabres’ advantage to 10 moments into the fourth frame.
“We got out of sorts a little bit,” Schalmont coach Greg Loiacono said. “Going into the second half, we wanted to get it to 25, 30. We started to do our own thing.”
And Mohonasen got after it.
“I’ve got to hand it to them,” Loiacono said. “They got every loose ball. Every 50-50 ball, they got. They did the same thing to Colonie.”
Mohonasen tied the game at 58 on the strength of a 12-2 run that included seven points from Shawn Gillisslee. The senior’s free throw knotted the game at 58 with four minutes left, and was part of his career-best 30. Eighteen of those came in the second half.
“He [Gillisslee] is a fantastic player,” Sanford said. “He is the heart and soul of their team, and they feed off him.”
Shane O’Dell scored 17 points for Schalmont, with the senior delivering a tie-breaking layup to make it 60-58. After Austin Redmond extended Schalmont’s lead with a putback basket and came up with a steal, O’Dell scored down low.
Sanford’s layup with six seconds left made it 66-61 and capped his career night.
“He does a lot of little things for us, and with his scoring, he takes pressure off some of the other guys,” Loiacono said of Sanford, who quarterbacked and played safety for the school’s football team this past fall. “He is a key guy for us.”
Sanford and O’Dell sparked Schalmont in the first half with 15 and 11 points, respectively, as the Sabres built a 40-25 lead.
The Schalmont girls (1-1, 3-1) went on a 20-7 second-quarter burst to take charge of the opener. Graber scored six of her 15 points in the run, and eighth-grader Karissa Antoine netted nine of her 11 as the mostly underclassmen visitors went up 32-12.
“We wanted to pull away,” Graber said. “We moved the ball really well and just played man-to-man [defense]. There was no need to get out of it.”
Graber’s backcourt mate, sophomore Haley Burchhardt, contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds while excelling defensively.
“Payton and Haley have both been with me since seventh grade,” Schalmont coach Jeff Van Hoesen said. “We lean on those two guards to control the game and be leaders.”
Mohonasen (1-1, 1-1) senior Bre Lott scored 28 points, including her team’s first field goal, a layup, midway through the second quarter. Lott also snared 15 rebounds.
“I think the second time we play them, it will be different,” Van Hoesen said. “They’ve got a lot of young players, but they’ve got a great coach [in Doug Holden] and he’ll get them going.”
SCHALMONT 68, MOHONASEN 64
Schalmont 24 16 13 15 — 68
Mohonasen 14 11 21 18 — 64
Schalmont scoring: Sanford 10-1-25, Pepicelli 1-0-2, Redmond 2-2-6, Randle 4-2-12, Ruzzo 2-0-6, O’Dell 6-4-17. Mohonasen scoring: Gannon 5-2-15, Cornell 3-0-8, Coelho 3-0-7, Reinke 2-0-4, Gillisslee 12-6-30. Scoring totals: Schalmont 25-9-68, Mohonasen 25-8-64.
SCHALMONT 56, MOHONASEN 33
Schalmont 12 20 11 13 — 56
Mohonasen 5 7 5 16 — 33
Schalmont scoring: Hallberg 0-1-1, Graber 6-1-15, Fleming 2-0-6, Antoine 5-0-11, Cordy 1-0-2, Burchhardt 5-1-12, Lenehan 3-2-9. Mohonasen scoring: Lott 6-15-28, Collins 0-1-1, Lennon 2-0-4. Scoring totals: Schalmont 22-5-56, Mohonasen 8-16-33.
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected]te.com or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.
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Categories: High School Sports, Schenectady County, Sports