Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake was making all the right moves in the opening quarter of its season debut Friday night at Saratoga Springs, then everything changed.
“We came out in man-to-man. We thought we’d be able to play with them,” said Blue Streaks sophomore guard Chris Byno. “They hit some shots, and we switched.”
Saratoga slowed Burnt Hills with an active 2-3 zone in the middle quarters, and Byno scored seven of his 20 points inside the final three minutes as the Blue Streaks forged a 59-50 Suburban Council North Division win.
“The biggest thing was our ineffectiveness against the zone in the middle of the game,” said Burnt Hills coach Gary Bynon. “In the second quarter, we played too much 30 feet from the basket.”
Saratoga went on a 13-5 run in the second quarter to erase a 16-10 deficit, and with a 20-11 spurt in the third, opened up a 43-32 advantage.
“I liked the way we attacked their man-to-man early on,” said Bynon. “That was a great coaching job on their part to go to that.”
“We went with the 2-3 zone, and as the game went on, we extended it,” said Saratoga coach Jack Brock. “It was all about good team play.”
Senior forward Jon Rach excelled for the Blue Streaks with his defense in the back of the zone, and with his 15 points and 14 rebounds. His performance helped Saratoga go to 3-0 after the Blue Streaks took down both Glens Falls and Guilderland at their tip-off tournament last weekend.
“I told the kids we’re making a statement,” said Brock. “We’re letting people know we’re here.”
Byno quelled Burnt Hills’ comeback bid in the fourth quarter when he got free on a crossover dribble and nailed a three-pointer from the top of the circle with 2:55 left to make it 50-41. Byno’s free throw soon after and a breakaway layup by Jesse Alexander pushed the host’s lead to 12.
“It was a big time in the game. They definitely had momentum,” Byno said of his clutch three-point basket. “I practice the crossover all the time. It felt great to do it and hit the shot.”
Taylor Mickle came off the bench to hit three of them in the second quarter, with the senior’s layup at the buzzer giving Saratoga a 23-21 halftime lead. Byno, Noah Arciero and Nick Smith sank three-point baskets in an 11-2 run to start the third period as Saratoga’s lead grew to 34-23.
“In the third quarter, they came out and stuck a couple of baskets,” said Bynon. “We’ve got to do a better job coming out of the locker room.”
Saratoga led by as many as 15, at 43-28, after Rach’s putback late in the third. Rach also opened the quarter with a putback before Saratoga’s trio of three-pointers.
“They were in a 1-3-1, and we practice against zones all the time. We found gaps,” said Byno, who had four assists. “We weren’t finding the gaps in the beginning.”
Josh Quesada sliced BH-BL’s deficit to 11 on a buzzer-beating three to close the third quarter. A three by Austin Nydegger and a short jumper by Robbie Knightes capped a 9-4 BH-BL run and made it 47-41 with 3:25 to go.
“We started to figure them out a little better, and we gave ourselves a chance,” said Bynon. “It didn’t have to be that way.”
Knightes led the Spartans with 20 points, Nydegger had 11 points, 10 rebounds and four steals, and Eric Dillon added 10 points. Nydegger and Knightes both scored five points to help BH-BL gain its 16-10, first-quarter lead.
“I like our group,” said Bynon. “If we get rid of a couple of things here and there and improve some things, we’ll see what happens.”
Bynon was coaching the BH-BL junior varsity, then took over the team Monday after George Dudas stepped down due to health issues. Bynon had a nine-season stint with the BH-BL varsity that ended in 1998.
BURNT HILLS-BALLSTON LAKE
Wellington 2-0-4, Quesada 1-0-3, Knightes 6-4-20, Haughey 1-0-2, Nydegger 4-1-11, Dillon 4-2-10. Totals: 18-7-50.
Alexander 2-1-5, Arciero 1-5-8, Buchus 1-0-2, Byno 7-4-20, Mickle 3-0-6, Rach 6-3-15, Smith 1-0-3. Totals: 21-13-59.
BH-BL 16 5 11 18 — 50
Saratoga 10 13 20 16 — 59
Three-point goals: Quesada, Knightes 4, Nydegger 2, Arciero, Byno 2, Smith.