ROTTERDAM — Looking for a sleeper team in the Section II Class B boys’ basketball tournament?
Finally healthy and hungry, too, Schalmont might not be a bad pick.
The Sabres shared the ball and spread the offensive wealth, and opened sectional play Tuesday night with a 74-54 first-round victory over visiting Hudson.
“I think if we’re hitting on all cylinders — and you saw glimpses of it tonight — we can be a top four team,” Schalmont coach Greg Loiacono said.
Schalmont (No. 6 seed, 12-9) played its best ball against Hudson (No. 11, 13-7) in the middle quarters when it turned a one-point deficit into a 15-point advantage, and the Colonial Council reps went on to notch their sixth consecutive win while improving to 9-0 in opening tournament games under Loiacono.
Elijah Smith and Ryan Woodrow both scored 16 points for the Sabres, and Isaiah Smith and Andrew Schraa both netted 14, while Keith Robinson — one of three freshmen in Hudson’s starting lineup — was his team’s only double-digit player with 26 points.
The 6-foot-3 Schraa, who snared seven rebounds Tuesday, missed Schalmont’s first dozen games with a hamstring issue, while other players sat out games, as well, for a variety of reasons before the Sabres found their stride.
“From Christmas to February 1st, we lost guys because they had COVID, mono, the flu. Now we’ve got everyone back,” Loiacono said. “We’re playing very well right now. We’re playing our best ball right now.”
Loiacono said Schalmont has been at full strength since the second game of its six-game win streak when it defeated Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons 94-69. Schalmont beat Voorheesville after that 92-64.
“Our chemistry is so much better than it was,” said Elijah Smith, the game’s only senior starter who had four assists, three steals and blocked a shot. “We know what everyone can do, and we trust each other.”
“We’re coming together as a team right now,” Woodrow added.
Team ball was among the keys to success Tuesday night as Schalmont earned a quarterfinal date with postseason rival Glens Falls (No. 3, 16-5) Saturday at 1 p.m. at Ballston Spa High School.
“We just knew we had to move the ball against their zone,” Loiacono said.
Schalmont did that plenty during its key offensive stretch that started with a 12-4 run to close the second quarter, and continued with a 10-2 run to begin the third quarter, as its advantage grew to 43-28.
Woodrow scored eight points in a 12-4 push that made it 33-26 at the break, and Elijah Smith accounted for the last six points in the 10-2 spurt that followed.
“We played defense,” Elijah Smith said. “We turned our defense at one end into offense at the other end.”
Nick Masick provided a spark off the Schalmont bench and finished with six points on a pair of 3s, four rebounds and four assists, two of those setting up layups by Woodrow and Schraa late in the second quarter.
“We’ve got guys who can come off the bench and give us energy and help contribute,” Elijah Smith said of Masick and fellow reserves Jake Ciaschetti and Curtis Brosious.
Hudson got as close as six in the third quarter at 50-44 on a free throw by Robinson before Schalmont ended the frame with a 7-0 run that Elijah Smith started with a 3 and ended with a layup.
“I’m happy that we’re moving on,” said Woodrow, a junior who tacked on 11 rebounds and four steals. “Every game could be our last together. It’s play hard and play for the seniors.”.
Gannon Logue, Malaky Payton and Eli Conte had nine, eight and seven points, respectively for Hudson. Conte hit a 3 to give Hudson a 22-21 lead in the second quarter before Schalmont’s 12-4 run that included two layups and an assist by Schraa.
Glens Falls beat Taconic Hills (No. 14, 9-12) Tuesday 85-40 after opening the first-round contest with a 31-8, first-quarter flurry.
“Glens Falls is big and we’ve got to box out,” Loiacono said. “We’ve got to use our athleticism to push the ball, and we’ve got to get stops.”
Schalmont topped Glens Falls in a semifinal game en route to the 2020 Class B title, and Glens Falls beat Schamont in the 2019 championship game.
Hudson 13 13 18 10 — 54
Schalmont 16 17 24 17 — 74
Hudson scoring: Payton 2-2-8, Robinson 10-4-26, Morrison 1-0-2, Conte 2-2-7, Logue 3-0-9, Terry 1-0-2. Schalmont scoring: I. Smith 6-1-14, Brosious 2-0-6, E. Smith 6-2-16, Masick 2-0-6, O’Connor 1-0-2, Woodrow 7-0-16, Schraa 5-4-14. Team totals: Hudson 19-8-54; Schalmont 29-7-74.