GLENS FALLS – Playing in the first sectional game at Cool Insuring Arena since 2020, the Fort Plain boys’ basketball team punched its ticket to its first Section II title game since 2001.
The second-seeded Hilltoppers posted a 72-56 win over third-seeded Berne-Knox-Westerlo in the Section II Class C semifinals.
Fort Plain got a huge game from Robert Jordan, who finished with 24 points and 21 rebounds.
“Rob is a special player, but he’s surrounded by special players,” Fort Plain coach Casey Russom said. “We did a good job finding him, and he also did a great job for us on the boards.”
Fort Plain also got 25 points and eight rebounds from Levi Thomas, who was coming off a 31-point effort in a 68-34 victory over seventh-seeded Waterford-Halfmoon in Saturday’s quarterfinals.
Mark Edwards led Berne-Knox-Westerlo with 25 points, while Jacob Detlefsen had nine points. A.J. Wright and Zach Brink each had eight points for the Bulldogs.
Edwards scored 40 points for BKW in its 73-47 win over sixth-seeded Whitehall in Saturday’s quarterfinals.
Edwards scored six of the Bulldogs’ 15 first-quarter points Monday, which saw 11 lead changes or ties in the first 5:30 before the Hilltoppers used a late burst to take a 19-15 advantage into the second quarter.
“Sometimes playing here can be tough,” Russom said. “We wanted to drive to the basket early to get ourselves going.”
Fort Plain pushed its lead to 26-17 early in the second before Berne-Knox-Westerlo pulled to within 26-25 with an 8-0 run.
However, the Hilltoppers stretched their lead late in the first half behind a 13-4 burst to take a 39-29 advantage into the break.
“That was a good finish to the first half,” Russom said. “We had to settle down a little when they made their run, and that was a good way to close out the half.”
The Bulldogs opened the second half with a 3-pointer from Edwards to make it 39-32, but Fort Plain pulled away to a 56-43 lead after three quarters.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Edwards made it 56-49 early in the fourth quarter, but as they did in the third, Fort Plain again stretched out its lead, outscoring the Bulldogs 16-7 the rest of the way to seal the victory.
The Hilltoppers, who have won 12 of their last 13 games, also won their regular-season meeting with the Bulldogs, 64-48, on Feb. 10 at Berne-Knox-Westerlo.
“We did a good job of moving the ball today,” Russom said. “The bottom line is that we find the open guy most of the time. We got a lot of open layups tonight because of our passing.”
With the win, the Hilltoppers will face top-seeded Maple Hill in Friday’s Class C title game at Cool Insuring Arena at 5 p.m. The Wildcats posted a 54-39 victory over fourth-seeded Duanesburg in Monday’s other Class C semifinal contest.
“We’ve been playing together for a long time,” Thomas said. “We’ve got a lot of chemistry and it’s working out well for us.”
Fort Plain (18-4 overall) will be playing in its first sectional title game since winning the 2001 Class C crown. Maple Hill last won a sectional title in 2011, winning the Class C title.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve played in a sectional championship game,” Thomas said. “We’ve been talking about getting this far since we were in sixth- and seventh-grade. We’ve just got to play our game.”
Berne-Knox-Westerlo 15 14 14 13 – 56
Fort Plain 19 20 17 16 – 72
Berne-Knox-Westerlo scoring: Edwards 9-2-25, Brink 2-3-8, Hooks 1-0-2, Lefkaditis 2-0-4, Detlefsen 3-0-9, A.J. Wright 2-4-8. Fort Plain scoring: Welch 3-0-6, Jordan 11-2-24, Gray 1-4-6, Thomas 8-8-25, Landry 1-0-2, Smith 1-0-2, Vangorder 2-2-7. Scoring totals: Berne-Knox-Westerlo 19-9-56, Fort Plain 27-16-72.