SCHENECTADY — The Niskayuna boys’ basketball team withstood a Schenectady rally Thursday afternoon, exiting The Pat Riley Sports Center in Schenectady with a 65-61 Suburban Council win.
Down by nine at halftime, the pressing Patriots found ways to disrupt the Silver Warriors’ offensive flow, as Schenectady produced a 19-11 third quarter to pull within a point of Niskayuna.
“I thought we took care of the ball for the most part against the press. We just had some careless turnovers in the third quarter,” Niskayuna coach Mike Grasso said.
The two squads exchanged scores to open the fourth as Schenectady took its final lead at 46-44, with six minutes left in the game on a 3-pointer from Chris Davis. Niskayuna’s Gabe Eldaye answered with a 3 of his own to take back the lead. The Patriots knotted the game at 47 apiece after Christian Gomez hit a free throw, but Niskayuna’s Jack Allen remained hot, hitting his fifth 3-pointer on the night as the Silver Warriors took the lead for good.
“We had a lot of ball movement, we got into the low post with Darian [Parker] and he was just kicking it out to us on the wing,” Allen said. “We had to fight late. It was a close game. [Schenectady is a] tough team and we just managed to go on some runs and pull it out.”
Allen finished with a game-high 19 points, with Eldaye adding 18.
The Patriots cut the lead one final time to three on Jahsean Haggray’s driving layup with 56 seconds left. From there, the Silver Warriors were able to make enough free throws to hold onto the win.
“We ran into too many valleys,” Schenectady coach John Miller said. “We had many peaks, but every time we had an answer, they had another one.
“They shoot free throws really well, and that’s what it came down to. They made it when they had to.”
Schenectady utilized its press throughout the contest, earning dividends with the initial pressure and creating turnovers as Niskayuna looked to regroup past half court.
“You try to simulate it in practice and it’s impossible to do. . . . They’re relentless, they stay on you and they’re very talented,” Grasso said of the Patriots. “Turnovers were more so unforced and just a little bit of lack of awareness in certain situations in the first half. We gave up some easy buckets because of it.”
The excitement of the road victory for Niskayuna must be short-lived. The Silver Warriors face Scotia-Glenville on the road Friday and host Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Saturday.
“It’s a big win,” senior Leo O’Brien said. “It helps us feel good. We’ve got a couple games coming up [Friday] and Saturday, and we’re looking to win those, too.”
Schenectady 13 6 19 23 – 61
Niskayuna 11 17 11 26 – 65
Niskayuna scoring: Coleman 3-1-7, Allen 6-2-19, Eldaye 5-6-18, Evens 3-0-8, Giammatli 0-2-2, Parker 5-1-11. Schenectady scoring: Johnsen 1-0-3, Haggray 6-1-13, Davis 6-0-16, Mayfield 1-1-4, Holder 5-0-11, Gomez 4-1-9, Rivero 2-0-5. Scoring totals: Niskayuna 22-12-65, Schenectady 25-3-61.