CLIFTON PARK — Shenendehowa senior Andrew Martin was still thinking positive after Troy turned two offensive rebounds into four quick points in the final seconds of Friday night’s Suburban Council tournament title game.
“I was a little nervous at that point, but we’ve been together for so long. All of us,” Martin said the contest’s waning moments. “It almost felt like it was a game we were destined to win.”
The Plainsmen did just that, getting two big free throws from Mason Courtney after the Flying Horses’ quick spurt in a 57-54 win that capped a perfect season.
“It’s great to get this last dance with these eight great seniors and to win the whole thing,” Courtney, a junior, said after his team completed a three-game tournament sweep and finish 15-0.
“It feels great to end the season and my high school career this way,” Martin said.
Courtney scored eight of his game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of free throws with 51 seconds left, to give the top-seeded Plainsmen a 55-50 lead. Shamdo Caldwell scored on a putback at the other end and drew a foul, and after missing from the line, Nasir Dawud-Soto grabbed another offensive board and dropped the ball in.
“That was probably one of the worst-case scenarios,” Courtney said. “If we did the right things, we still felt we could pull out the game.”
Courtney was fouled with 23 seconds left and hit his two foul shots. At the other end, Troy’s hopes to tie ended on a missed 3-pointer.
“We battled. We battled,” Dawud-Soto, a senior, said after an eight-point, eight-rebound, four-steal effort. “They’re a tough team.”
Shenendehowa coach Tony Dzikas said the same of Troy. Shenendehowa had won at Troy 64-57 on Feb. 18 as part of its regular season Suburban Council championship.
“We knew they were going to play the entire 32 minutes,” Dzikas said of the Flying Horses. “When we got up by six we knew they were going to come at us.”
Martin had given Shenendehowa its largest leads of the game at 49-43 on a 3-pointer and 51-45 on a layup, and Josh Rodriguez answered with a 3-pointer to make it a one-possession game as it had been for much of the evening. A drive by Dawud-Soto again pulled Troy (No. 3 seed, 11-4) within three at 53-50.
“Even though we didn’t finish how we wanted, at least we got here,” Dawud-Soto said.
Shenendehowa won the Section II Class AA title last season, but was unable to go further when the COVID-19 pandemic swept through New York. Concerns due to the virus brought on the cancellation of the Section II and state tournament this season.
“The way I look at it, in mid-January, we thought we weren’t going to have a season,” Dzikas said. “We got 15 games in. We played something like a sectional. I’m not going to look at the negatives.”
Dzikas said the most positive thing about the season was Shenendehowa’s all-for-one approach, and the Plainsmen put that on display for a final time Friday night in front of fans for the first time, as each player was allowed to have two guests for the season-ending matchup.
“So many people made great plays,” Dzikas said. “To be a champion, when the other team takes something away from you, others have to step up.”
While Troy paid plenty of attention to Martin and the coach’s son, Devin Dzikas, the 12th-graders still managed 11 and nine points, respectively. Courtney came up big with his third double-digit scoring game of the tournament and five rebounds, Josh McLea had seven points and five rebounds and Landon Spiak added six points.
“We needed guys to step up,” Martin said. “Guys did.”
When asked who he thought was the tournament’s most valuable player, coach Dzikas never hesitated when he said, ” It’s the team.”
Rodriguez scored 15 points for Troy, Alex Wolf had 12 and Marquis Hamby netted 11. Dawud-Soto’s eight included a near-full court heave at the third quarter buzzer that swished through and got Troy within 38-35.
Shenendehowa secured the girls’ Suburban Council basketball tournament title and capped an unbeaten campaign earlier Friday. In the fall, both of Shenendehowa’s soccer teams earned SC regular season and tournament titles and went unbeaten.
Troy 14 6 15 19 — 54
Shenendehowa 11 11 16 19 — 57
Troy scoring: Caldwell 3-1-7, Dawud-Soto 3-1-8, Peterson 0-1-1, Hamby 4-2-11, Rodriguez 6-0-15, Wolf 6-0-12. Shenendehowa scoring: Seeberger 1-0-2, Martin 4-0-11, Spiak 2-1-6, McLea 2-2-7, Courtney 5-6-17, Dzikas 2-3-9, Lavery 2-0-5. Scoring totals: Troy 22-5-54, Shenendehowa 18-12-57.