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Stewart operates well on the inside

Stewart operates well on the inside

Collin Stewart’s 47-point performance against Fort Plain Tuesday night in the Western Athletic Confe

Collin Stewart’s 47-point performance against Fort Plain Tuesday night in the Western Athletic Conference Cup title game was primarily an inside job.

The 6-foot-7 senior with a smooth outside touch sank only two three-point baskets en route to his program-record for points in a 76-59 win at Fulton-Montgomery Community College.

“He was getting after it. He’s a good finisher,” Mekeel coach Chad Bowman said of the Monmouth-bound scoring sensation. “He was creating on his own, and other times, his teammates were setting him up.”

Stewart has done plenty of his scoring down low this season. It’s a new role for Stewart, who joined the school’s varsity as a 6-1 freshman guard and played mostly on the perimeter through his junior year.

“We’ve got enough kids on the perimeter,” said Bowman, who has several other three-point threats including Collin’s brother, Caleb, and Spencer Bath. “It was our plan to have him play inside a little more this year.”

Stewart has flourished in the paint with seven games of 30 points or more. He totaled 32, 33 and 34 in consecutive games during one stretch, and worked for a program-record 45 points in a win over Sharon Springs before topping that Tuesday night.

Stewart’s 47 is a Section II high for this season, with his count including 10, 13, eight and 16 in each quarter. Stewart also snared eight rebounds and blocked two shots for the 17-1 Lions.

“He was unbelievably consistent,” said Bowman.

Stewart was 17-for-27 from the field (2-for-3 on threes) and 11-for-13 from the foul line.

“When he goes down in the paint, so many good things happen,” said Bowman. “He can score, he can get fouled, or he and score and get fouled on the same play.”

Troy ends drought

Troy not only captured its first Big 10 boys’ basketball championship with Tuesday’s 70-57 home triumph against Albany, but also ended a three-team stranglehold on the title.

Schenectady, Bishop Maginn and Christian Brothers Academy had combined to win the prev­ious 12 Big 10 banners before Troy completed its 15-1 league run behind Trahmier Burrell’s 27 points and Javion Ogunyemi’s 13-point, 11-rebound efort.

CBA won the last two Big 10 titles and those in 2007, 2006 and 2004. Bishop Maginn was the league’s best in 2009 and 2008. Schenectady won the first of four straight league banners in 2000 and also was tops in 2005. Each of those schools featured a state championship team.

Catholic Central was the Big 10’s first title winner in 1978.

Troy had several championship teams in the old Class A league, including its nationally ranked and unbeaten 1965 edition.

Samuels SC POW

With one double-double and almost another, Colonie junior Jake Samuels earned Suburban Council Player of the Week honors for basketball games played Feb. 3-10.

The 6-foot-1 Samuels scored a career-high 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a 53-49 win over Bethlehem, and collected 12 points and nine rebounds in a 53-48 victory against Columbia.

Rematch tonight

Western Athletic Conference girls’ basketball teams will collide on two fronts tonight with the opening of the Section II tourn­ament.

Middleburgh (No. 16 seed, 10-8) will host Galway (No. 17, 9-9) and Mekeel Christian Academy (No. 14, 10-8) will entertain Sar­atoga Cath­olic (No. 19, 8-10) in Class C play-in games as part of tonight’s six-game card.

Middleburgh defeated Galway a week ago Tuesday in a WAC crossover game, 65-29. The Knights led by three at the half before pulling away in a contest that saw Noelle Morgan score 17 for the winners. Erica Chase netted 15 for Galway.

“We were missing two starters with the flu, and we were a little intimidated by their physical defense,” said veteran Galway coach Deb Wilday. “We’ll have our kids back, and we’ve seen their defense. We know what it’s about. Hopefully, that will help us.”

Mekeel and Saratoga Catholic have not crossed paths this season.

St. Johnsville/Oppenheim-Ephratah (No. 18, 7-11) will go to Lake George (No. 15, 10-8) for another Class C play-in game. In Class B play-in games, Emma Willard (No. 17, 12-6) is at Corinth (No. 16, 7-10), Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons (No. 18, 1-16) is at Chatham (No. 15, 8-10), and Cairo-Durham (No. 19, 3-14) is at Schalmont (No. 14, 4-14).

The Section II Clas B boys’ tourney begins tonight with Corinth (7-11) at Ichabod Crane (5-13) and Greenville (3-15) at Cobleskill-Richmondville (7-11) in play-in games that will determine the No. 16 and No. 15 seeds.

Both tournaments resume with a full slate of games Tuesday.

Bianco moves up

Saratoga Springs gymnast Rema Bianco took a big leap forward at the Section II championship meet Wednesday night at Shaker High School when she won the all-around competition.

“After the injury last year, I wanted to be the best I could be,” the junior said after scoring 35.625 points and helping the Blue Streaks win their 11th straight team title. “Coming into the sectionals, I had high hopes.”

An ankle injury made Bianco’s sophomore season a series of stops and goes. She was healthy enough to compete at the sectional meet and made it through three events before her right ankle gave way on the floor exercice. She completed her routine, though, and placed 27th.

Bianco took second on the floor Wednesday and placed first on the parallel bars in her second major all-around win this season. She was also best at the Shaker Invitational and finished third at last week’s Section II All-Around Meet.

“It’s nice to see her have a big, bounce-back year,” said Saratoga coach Debbie Smarro.

Bianco will see action at her fifth state meet March 3 at Shaker, with Hailey Marini of Guilderland and Saratoga’s Rachel Van Earden joining her in the all-around. The Section II state meet team will also include Saratoga’s Morgan Winnie (all four individual events) and Tori Shaffer (floor); Guilderland’s Jaclyn Levy (bars, vault) and Claire Levy (bars); Shaker’s Maggie Muzio (floor) and Stefanie Miller (beam, vault); and Bethlehem’s Ella Meredith (beam).

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