Strong-shooting first quarter helps Schenectady down Niskayuna in boys’ basketball

Schenectady's Damari Holder handles the ball between Niskayuna's Saif Chowdhrey and Gavin Olsen Tuesday.

Schenectady's Damari Holder handles the ball between Niskayuna's Saif Chowdhrey and Gavin Olsen Tuesday.

NISKAYUNA – Schenectady shot very well in the first quarter on its way to a 72-65 Suburban Council boys’ basketball win over Niskayuna Tuesday.

The Patriots, who improved to 8-5 in the Suburban Council and 10-7 overall, went 9 for 14 from the field in the first, and built a 12-0 lead to start that settled into a 21-8 lead entering the second quarter.

Schenectady was able to shoot 64.3% from the field that quarter because it scored the majority of its points on drives, needing only one 3-pointer.

“Our main objective is to get it to the rack and get some high-quality shots,” Schenectady coach John Miller said. “We got in there pretty handily and we finished, which was huge. We were under some pressure, some stress, and the boys made plays.”

“We just caught fire,” said Schenectady’s Damari Holder, who led all scorers with 28 points, to go along with seven rebounds.

Niskayuna coach Mike Grasso had a different perspective.

“They shot well because there was no resistance getting into the paint,” Grasso said. “At the end of the day, you’ve got to fight to keep them out of the paint. We didn’t do a good job of that early, and they built their momentum off that.”

While Schenectady had a comfortable lead in the first half, it came with foul trouble, but Niskayuna (4-7, 6-9) couldn’t make its usual number of free throws, going 4 for 10 in the first half. The Silver Warriors also had some foul trouble, and had to sit Ethan Gilson with three fouls with 3:37 left in the second quarter. Gilson had hit two big 3-pointers to that point.

“The last couple days of practice, we made defense a priority,” Miller said. “We wanted to get back to our pressure situation. We wanted to get back to speeding them up.”

Schenectady led 38-28 at halftime, but Niskayuna closed it to 38-31 as Gilson hit his third 3-pointer to open the third quarter. The Patriots always had an answer, though, thanks to balanced scoring. In addition to Holder, Schenectady got strong offensive games from Quy-Maine Haggray and Christian Gomez.

An inside basket from Holder gave Schenectady its biggest lead of the fourth quarter, 64-50, with 3:40 left. Then Niskayuna put on a sustained rally, led by Gavin Olsen, who scored 15 of his 20 points in the fourth. His lone 3-pointer, from the baseline, cut the Patriots’ lead to 70-65 with 27.2 seconds left, but Niskayuna couldn’t get closer.

“We fought back, I’ll give my guys that,” Grasso said. “We battled, we had our opportunities. We missed free throws and missed a lot of layups, and you can’t do that when you’re trying to come back.”

Haggray and Gomez scored 18 and 17, respectively. Gomez also had four steals.

“We’re starting to come along. The chemistry is starting to be real good,” Holder said.

Olsen also grabbed eight rebounds. Gilson finished with 16 points on the strength of four 3-pointers. Daniel Smalls added 13 and Sam Booth had 12. 

As the month turns to February, the Section II playoffs loom. Miller likes what he sees, while Grasso knows things have to improve.

“I feel like in totality, we’ve played really good basketball,” Miller said. “This was another tough road win. It’s tough to play here.”

“Right now we’re too inconsistent game-in, game-out,” Grasso said. “Our scoring needs to be a little more balanced.”

Schenectady 21 17 14 20 – 72

Niskayuna 8 20 12 25 – 65

Schenectady scoring: Hooks 1-0-2, Holder 10-6-28, Haggray 6-6-18, Gomez 5-6-17, Edge 3-0-7. Niskayuna scoring: Booth 5-2-12, Foti 1-0-2, Gilson 5-2-16, Matia 1-0-2, Olsen 8-3-20, Smalls 5-2-13. Team totals: Schenectady 25-18-72. Niskayuna 25-9-65.

Contact Will Springstead at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @WLSpringstead.

Categories: High School Sports, Schenectady, Sports, Sports, Your Niskayuna

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