Even Garrett Bush doubted his three-point shot from the right side would go in.
Bush banked an open three-pointer off the backboard with four seconds on the clock to force overtime, and teammate Alex Olbrych took over from there, scoring eight points, including the game-winner with 11 seconds remaining, to give Niskayuna a 62-60 win over Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in a wild Suburban Council White Division game Friday night.
Olbrych, a senior froward, matched a season-high with 27 points to lead the Silver Warriors (5-5 overall, 3-3 league) into a three-way tie for first place in the division with the Spartans (5-5,
3-3) and Averill Park, which fell to Mohonasen.
“We’re excited,” Olbrych said. “We talked about it: we needed to win this game to start the rest of our season.”
Bush was on the receiving end of a three-pass sequence that began after Burnt Hills’ Jaret Falkowitz hit two foul shots with eight seconds to go in regulation to give the Spartans a 52-49 lead. Joe Privitera inbounded to Dan Peters, who hit Olbrych at midcourt. Olbrych found Bush alone in the backcourt for the open shot.
“I took a step back, and I didn’t think it was going in, actually,” Bush said. “I was just hoping on the bank.”
Niskayuna coach Mike Black calls the play “win.” It was the
final play the Warriors rehearsed in their most recent practice.
“That’s exactly how we practiced it,” Olbrych said. “We stayed late just to do that, and it worked.”
“We practice that at least two or three times a week,” Black said. “It just kind of broke for us perfectly.”
Burnt Hills took a 56-52 lead on a fast-break bucket by Dave Fischer one minute into overtime. The
6-foot-5 Fischer poked the ball loose just beyond midcourt, lost sight of it behind his body for an instant, then used his long arms to collect it ahead of two Burnt Hills defenders and rush in for the layup.
But Olbrych hit six of eight free throws and the game-winning field goal over the final 2:31, which saw one tie and five lead changes.
Burnt Hills led, 60-59, on a pair of foul shots by Falkowitz with 25 seconds remaining in OT. At the other end, Olbrych tried to drive the baseline, but couldn’t get past Hayden Skalski. So Olbrych backed off, then drove right. With two defenders collapsing, he pulled up for an eight-foot floater in the lane to give the Warriors a 61-60 edge with 11 seconds to go.
“I just kind of stopped and shot it,” Olbrych said. “I thought it was going to be short at first, but I was just so relieved when it went in.”
After a timeout, Falkowitz drove for the game winner, but his layup bounced off the front of the rim. Olbrych was fouled collecting the rebound with one second remaining, and swished one free throw for the margin of victory.
“Jaret saw the opening and he took it, and I’m comfortable with him taking that shot,” Burnt Hills coach Bill Martin said. Though the play wasn’t designed for him, Martin rattled off three examples of Falkowitz hitting game-winners at the buzzer, including in a win over Niskayuna last season. “He does that. . . . If he shoots 10 of those at the end of a game, he’s going to make six or seven of them.”
Niskayuna’s win spoiled an impressive third quarter by Paul Layton, who scored 11 of Burnt Hills’ 19 points as the Spartans took a 38-31 lead. Layton finished with 22 points to lead Burnt Hills. Falkowitz and Fischer each scored 15 points.
Bush joined Olbrych in double figures, with 11 points for Niskayuna.
The Silver Warriors twice staged large comebacks. With Burnt Hills leading, 19-8, on Fischer’s layup with 5:19 to go before halftime, Niskayuna outscored the Spartans, 13-0, for a 21-19 lead at the intermission.
Burnt Hills led, 47-39, midway through the fourth quarter when Layton tipped in an offensive rebound. But Niskayuna tied it on an 8-0 run. The Spartans regained the lead on Layton’s three-pointer from the left corner and stretched it to 52-49 before Bush’s heroics.
“That was a good team comeback,” Bush said. “We played tough ‘D.’ As a team we did really well and stepped up.”
BURNT HILLS-BALLSTON LAKE
Layton 8-3-22, Fischer 7-0-15, DellaPia 0-0-0, Skalski 1-0-3, Falkowitz 7-4-18, Schreiner 0-2-2. Totals: 23-9-60.
Privitera 1-0-3, Olbrych 9-7-27, Grifferty 3-1-7, Bush 3-3-11, Peters 0-4-4, Powers 1-0-2, Waltman 3-2-8. Totals: 20-17-62.
BH-BL 13 6 19 14 8 — 60
Niskayuna 6 15 10 21 10 — 62
Three-point goals: Layton 3, Fischer, Skalski, Privitera, Olbrych 2, Bush 2.