Shenendehowa is heading into the Section II Class AA boys’ basketball tournament with a heap of momentum. Guilderland can’t say the same.
Junior guard Matt Miner led four double-digit scorers with 17 points, and the Plainsmen’s sometimes-overshadowed defense turned in another strong performance Tuesday night in a 74-51 Suburban Council win on the Dutchmen’s court.
The regular-season-ending victory was the 15th straight for the streaking Plainsmen since a 64-61 mid-December loss at rival Saratoga Springs. The streak includes a 53-51 payback triumph over Saratoga Springs earlier this month.
“I think we can play with anybody in the sectionals if we share the ball, hit shots and play defense like we did tonight,” said Miner, who produced 12 first-half points as Shenendehowa raced to a 44-23 advantage. “We did a lot of good things tonight. We wanted to finish out strong.”
This season’s North Division champ, Shenendehowa completed league play at 15-1, and will take a 19-1 overall record into next week’s sectionals. Independent Albany Academy, which will also compete at the Class AA sectional level, is the area’s only other 19-1 team.
“Tonight was a combination of everything,” Miner said. “We wanted to make a statement for sectionals. There’s some question with us and Albany Academy as far as who is going to be the No. 1 seed. We also wanted to keep our momentum rolling, and at the same time, play spoiler. Guilderland was playing for their division.”
Guilderland (10-6, 12-8) lost its second game in a row, and its fourth in five outings. The Dutchmen and everyone else will find out their sectional seeds today.
“We’re limping. We’re limping,” said Guilderland coach Ron Osinski. “We not doing a good job of bouncing back from losses. We lack confidence right now, and to get it back, it’s not the best thing to be playing Shenendehowa.
“They showed they’re the best team in the league. They have a tremendous amount of weapons, they have good size and they execute well.”
Matt Lee scored 11 points for Shenendehowa, Ryan Murphy and Manny Hernandez both netted 10 and Doug Milvaney added nine. Milvaney and Murphy also played significant roles at the defensive end for the state’s No. 18-ranked team by limiting Guilderland scoring leaders Kevin Kost and Jon Terry to a combined 20 points.
“We’re ready for the playoffs,” said Shenendehowa coach Tony Dzikas. “I like where we’re at, and we want to keep the steam rolling, but let’s not forget we’re dealing with high school kids here. If we have a night where the energy isn’t there, we can get beat and the game’s over.”
Shenendehowa had plenty of energy Tuesday night, and jumped on Guilderland for the game’s first nine points en route to a 24-10 first-quarter lead. Miner had three layups and Lee nailed a three-pointer to begin the contest, and Hernandez came off the bench to sink a pair of threes late in the opening period.
“We started to look like a tired team, so we rested Friday and Saturday. We’re a team that plays well rested,” said Dzikas. “Our legs were springier than they have been.”
Terry hit a jumper to end the first quarter, and Guilderland got within seven, at 24-17, after Isaiah Folds converted a three-point play and Chris Mannarino knifed inside for a pair of layups. Shenendehowa then scored 10 unanswered points as part of a 20-6 closing run to go up by 21.
“We most likely have a No. 1 [sectional] seed. We’re division champs, and we came in with an 18-1 record,” said Dzikas. “We could have just gone through the motions and finished it out, but we didn’t do that. We really wanted to make a statement.”
Lee began Shenendehowa’s 20-6 flurry with a three-point hoop, and Miner capped it with another as the halftime buzzer sounded. In between, Milvaney scored on a putback and a layup, Murphy converted a three-point play and Lee scored on a flying tip-in.
“We cut it to seven and they hit that three, and that broke our back,” Osinski said. “The heads got down too early.”
Eight Shenendehowa players combined for 11 three-point baskets as part of its offensive package, with Murphy, a 6-foot-6 senior center, nailing one to highlight an 11-2 spurt to begin the third quarter.
Milvaney 4-1-9, Miner 7-2-17, Reyes 2-1-6, Hughes 1-0-3, Hernandez 4-0-10, M. Lee 4-0-11, D. Lee 1-0-3, Vonwayne 1-0-2, Koopman 1-0-3, Murphy 3-3-10. Totals: 28-7-74.
Drislane 1-0-2, Folds 2-1-6, Andrew Brown 1-1-3, Kost 3-0-8, Mannarino 2-0-4, Quinn 4-2-12, Sentz 2-0-4, Jon Terry 6-0-12. Totals: 21-4-51.
Shenendehowa 24 20 20 10 — 74
Guilderland 10 13 13 15 — 51
Three-point goals: Miner, Reyes, Hughes, Hernandez 2, M. Lee 3, D. Lee, Koopman, Murphy, Folds, Kost 2, Quinn 2.