SCOTIA — Colonie spent most of the first half trying to wrestle the lead away from Mekeel Christian Academy Monday night in a non-league boys’ basketball game, and once the Garnet Raiders did, they never gave it up.
Reserve Camryn Curet hit a pair of 3-point baskets at the tail end of the second quarter to help push the Garnet Raiders ahead for the first time, and Brandon Gordon delivered 16 of his 18 points over the next two periods in a 63-56 win on the Lions’ court.
Gordon went end to end and threw down a one-handed jam to essentially end the contest when his team went up 61-55 late.
“We spread the floor better and eliminated a lot of the one-on-one,” Colonie coach Ken Dagostino said after the momentum-building victory for the upcoming Class AA sectionals. “We got better in each quarter.“
Colonie erased a 14-10 deficit when it outscored Mekeel 18-13 in the second quarter, and outscored Mekeel in the next two, as well, 15-12 and 20-17. The Garnet Raiders made 15 of 22 shots in those last two quarters.
“We finally started to figure it out,” said Gordon. “Playing hero ball was not a great idea.”
“We’ve gotten better at that,” Curet added. “Early in the season there was a lot of one-on-one and quick shots.”
That was the case in the first quarter Monday before Colonie (12-7) reversed its course and won with a better display of team basketball.
“Number one, they took care of the ball, and they made shots,” Mekeel coach Chad Bowman said. “It was really a good blend of driving to the basket and making one or two passes and hitting shots. For us, it came down to empty possessions and free throws [22 for 32].”
Colonie displayed its willingness to share and its depth while coming back, and in the end nine different Garnet Raiders had scored, led by Gordon with 18 points, Cameron Satin with 10 and Curet with nine on a trio of 3s.
“Today they had a lot of players step up for them,” Bowman said. “They got contributions from so many kids.”
Six different Colonie players scored in the second quarter including Curet, whose 3 tied the game at 25. After two free throws by Mekeel’s Oryan DeJesus, another 3 by Curet gave the Garnet Raiders a 28-27 advantage inside the final minute.
“He can hit it,” Dagostino said of Curet, a junior. “He’s a confident kid.”
“Once I hit those threes, everyone got hyped,” Curet said. “Everyone got into it.”
Colonie led by as many as seven points several times in the second half. Mekeel got as close as three on a 3 ball by Nykim Taylor with 2:57 to go 55-52 before Satin and Gordon scored on drives. After DeJesus sank a 3, Gordon answered with his monster slam dunk.
“We were locking in on defense,” Gordon said. “We were rebounding more. We were taking better shots. We played a lot smarter.”
Gordon scored eight points in the third quarter and eight more in the fourth.
“He was settling for jumpers early on,” Bowman said of Gordon, a 6-foot-4 senior wing. “He got better at getting to the rim.”
Cameron Trimarchi had eight points, five assists and four steals for Colonie.
Mekeel (13-5) was led by its four underclass starters as 6-6 freshman Isaiah Rose collected 16 points and 13 rebounds, Nykim Taylor netted 15 points, and DeJesus and Terrence Robinson both notched 11.
“It’s hard for young kids to play against Class AA teams,” said Bowman, whose only returning starter from his 2022 Section II Class A title-winning team is DeJesus, a junior. “They don’t have three seniors to carry them.”
Mekeel, which had won four in a row before consecutive setbacks against Academy Thursday and Colonie, has a game remaining against Chatham Tuesday before making its Class AA debut in the Section II tournament.
A Section II criteria that was put in place before the 2016-17 season says private schools must move up a class for sectional play if they reach consecutive championship games, as Mekeel did last year and when it also copped the Class A flag in 2020.
Colonie 10 18 15 20 — 63
Mekeel 14 13 12 17 — 56
Colonie scoring: Curet 3-0-9, B. Gordon 8-1-18, M. Gordon 1-0-2, Hulett 1-0-3, Cody 1-1-3, Reed 2-0-5, Salvi 2-0-5, Satin 4-0-10, Trimarchi 3-2-8. Mekeel scoring: DeJesus 3-4-11, Taylor 5-3-15, Barnhill 1-0-3, Robinson 3-5-11, Rose 3-10-16. Team totals: Colonie 25-4-63; Mekeel 15-22-56.