TROY — The Duanesburg boys’ basketball team didn’t put together one of those special offensive performances seen so many times in an undefeated regular season, but it was good, and good was more than enough.
The Eagles used their help defense to thwart Galway’s attack, and used their best scoring runs in the first and second quarters to gain plenty of breathing room en route to a 63-34 Section II Class C quarterfinal win Friday at Hudson Valley Community College.
Jeff Mulhern was Duanesburg’s lone double-digit scorer with 20 points in a contest that time and time again saw the quick and aggressive Eagles double-team the ball at all parts of the court.
“We never could get open looks,” Galway coach Mike Glenn said after Duanesburg pinned down his Eagles for the second time this season. “We’d swing the ball and they were there. They rotate fast and help.”
Duanesburg (No. 1 seed, 21-0) limited Galway (No. 8, 10-12) to six points in each quarter of the first half while building a 31-12 advantage. Mulhern scored his first 10 points and Peyton Fall added all eight of his during that stretch when the Eagles collected six steals and blocked four shots at the opposite end.
“The first thing I asked my guys was, ‘Did we play our best game?’ and no one raised their hand. We played well,” Duanesburg coach Brett Simpson said after his team earned its second straight Section II semifinal berth. “Offense is not always constant. Defense has to be.”
Tough, smart defense has become a trademark of this season’s Duanesburg edition that has climbed to No. 2 in the state rankings. In its last game, in winning the WAC Cup title, Duanesburg held Fonda-Fultonville to 39 points. In an earlier league game with Galway, Duanesburg gave up 25 points.
”We all get it now,” said Duanesburg senior Michael Leak of his team’s help defense. “Last year we were pretty good, but not like we are now. You’ve got to trust each other to make it work.”
Duanesburg will be looking to put its full package together Monday at Cool Insuring Arena when it goes against Berne-Knox-Westerlo (No. 4, 13-9) in an 8 p.m. semifinal game. Duanesburg has beaten WAC foe Berne-Knox-Westerlo three times this season.
“Keep doing what we’ve been doing throughout the season,” Duanesburg senior Vanz Llamasares said after scoring five points off the bench. “It all starts with defense. Defense first.”
Duanesburg’s bid to reach its first Section II title game since 2009 ended last season with a 54-39 semifinal loss to Maple Hill. Duanesburg has never won a Section II championship.
“Last year was a heartbreaking loss [in the semifinals],” said Leak, who scored six points and added two steals Friday. “We weren’t prepared for the court size or the depth perception. We wanted to get back.”
“We had a meeting on the day the sectional seedings came out, and told the boys, ‘We can’t get there [semifinals] without winning Friday.’ Galway plays a style that doesn’t fit us. There’s no way we looked past this game.”
Thomas Villano and Josh Lovelass had eight points apiece and Casey Clarke netted six for Galway, with Lovelass hitting a 3-pointer to begin the game’s scoring and a free throw soon after for a 4-2 lead.
Lovelass had 25 points and Clarke 20 when Galway beat Waterford-Halfmoon in a play-in game Tuesday, 69-49, for the program’s first sectional win since 2005.
“Our leading scorer got a three, and we had no more threes after that,” Glenn said. “They [Duanesburg] are lengthy and fast. They are athletic. They’ve got everything.”
“We had them taking some ugly shots,” Simpson said.
Fall and Leak both had five points in a 14-2 run as Duanesburg took a 16-6 lead through one quarter. Duanesburg began to pull away in the second when it outscored Galway 15-6 in the second frame. Mulhern delivered seven points and Llamasares notched his five — including one of Duanesburg’s eight 3s — in that period.
“Vanz gave us a good spark in the game,” Simpson said. “He’s done that before. He scored some key points in an important crossover game last year.”
“I came in and felt the energy from the stands,” Llamasares said.
Ethan Thompson scored nine points for Duanesburg, and Mulhern contributed nine rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Berne-Knox-Westerlo beat Hadley-Luzerne (No. 5, 12-10) in its quarterfinal at Shenendehowa High School 64-52.
Galway 6 6 10 12 — 34
Duanesburg 16 15 12 20 — 63
Galway scoring: Eagan 0-1-1, Clarke 3-0-6, Lovelass 3-1-8, Maher 1-2-4, DeVellis 1-0-2, Kenyon 2-04, O’Neil 0-1-1, Villano 3-2-8. Duanesburg scoring: Leak 1-4-6, Llamasares 2-0-5, Hyde 2-0-4, Thompson 3-1-9, Lohret 1-1-3, Fall 3-0-8, Mulhern 6-6-20, Williams 2-1-5, Martin 1-0-3. Team totals: Galway 13-7-34; Duanesburg 21-13-63.