Bethlehem’s stay among the state’s ranked Class AA teams may be short-lived because of a young Shenendehowa group that is starting to find its groove.
Dylan Molloy and Teddy McCarthy scored seven points apiece in the fourth quarter, and both made significant plays inside the final two minutes as the Plainsmen dealt the Eagles their first loss of the season, 61-58, in a Suburban Council game Friday night.
“We’re really young,” said McCarthy, who, along with Molloy, Drew Zlogar and Paul Serapilio, are the only seniors on the Shenendehowa roster. “The thing about a young team is you don’t know what you’re going to get.”
The Plainsmen got 13 points from sophomore Brendon Fischer, including the go-ahead basket off a Molloy feed with 1:50 left. Molloy sank two free throws on Shenendehowa’s next trip down the floor to make it 60-56, and McCarthy sealed his team’s third straight win with a steal in the closing seconds.
“This shows how scary we can be,” said Molloy, who went 8-for-8 from the line and finished with 20 points and four assists. “Bethlehem is the No. 1 team in the area. If we can beat them, we can beat anyone.”
Bethlehem (5-1, 7-1) had beaten state-ranked Middletown and Christian Brothers Academy last week to earn the No. 21 spot on the New York State Sportswriters Association poll that came out Tuesday.
“It was a learning experience. They know how it tastes now, and we don’t want to taste it again,” said Bethlehem coach A.G. Irons. “The guys are disappointed. You go 7-0 and things are going your way, and you think you’re going to keep it rolling.”
Shenendehowa (4-1, 4-2) began to make its move in the third quarter, when it raced past Bethlehem behind Mollow’s seven points, two assists and two steals, 18-9, to open up a 44-40 lead. Fischer started the quarter with a foul shot, and ended it with his second layup of the period.
“We only scored nine points in the third quarter. That’s usually when we’re at our best, but give them [Shenendehowa] credit,” said Irons. “They did a good job of preparing, and they worked very hard.”
The Plainsmen began the final period with a 10-3 spurt in which McCarthy and Molloy delivered five points apiece to extend their advantage to 54-43. The Eagles answered with an 11-0 spurt to tie. McCarthy’s drive made it 56-54, and two free throws by Connor Morelli pulled Bethlehem even with 2:06 left.
“There were three things we talked about. First, we had to out-compete them. Loose balls had to be 70-30 Shenendehowa,” said Plainsmen coach Tony Dzikas. “Second, we could not let them outrebound us on the offensive end. Third, players had to make plays. You saw Teddy do that. You saw Brandon do that. Yousaw Dylan do that.”
Molloy came off a high pick and found Fischer down low for the go-ahead hoop. Molloy then dropped in both ends of a one-and-one with 61 seconds left after Bethlehem had missed twice on its possession moments earlier.
“I had hit a three before, and they came out on me,” Molloy said of his key assist. “I came off a screen and found Fischer.”
John Sica scored down low for the Eagles with 50 seconds left to make it 60-58. Shenendehowa worked the clock down on its ensuing possession, and after McCarthy missed a three, the Plainsmen maintained possession when the ball sailed out of bounds.
Zlogar was fouled and sank the front end of a one-and-one with 14 seconds to play, and Bethlehem’s final bid ended with McCarthy’s steal.
“It was good team defense,” said McCarthy. “I was in the right place at the right time, and the ball came right to me.”
McCarthy scored 12 points coming off the bench, Fischer had 13 points and six rebounds and Zlogar added 10 points and seven rebounds.
“I told the guys to keep plugging away,” said Dzikas, whose team was down midway through the first quarter, 15-7, and at the halftime break, 31-26. “I told them to keep doing what you’re doing. I’m proud of the guys with the way they battled.”
“A lot of guys stepped up tonight, and that’s what we needed,” said Molloy. “Everyone needed to stay on their ‘A’ game. We believed if we stayed close, we could get them.”
Nate Kane paced Bethlehem with 18 points, all of them coming on three-point baskets, while Myles Bergere had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Kane’s final three began the Eagles’ 11-0 run in the fourth quarter that also included a two foul shots and a drive by Morelli.
“In the fourth quarter, their [Shenendehowa] intensity picked up,” said Irons. “We were down, and our urgency picked up.”
Sica 3-2-9, Bergere 5-4-14, Kane 6-0-18, Ball 2-0-6, Morelli 2-4-9, McKenna 1-0-2.
K. Huerter 1-0-3, Molloy 5-8-20, McCarthy 5-0-12, Zlogar 4-1-10, Fischer 4-5-13, Kromer 1-1-3. Totals: 20-15-61.
Bethlehem 15 16 9 18 — 58
Shenendehowa 16 10 18 17 — 61
Three-point goals: Sica, Kane 6, Ball 2, Morelli, K. Huerter, Molloy 2, McCarthy 2, Zlogar.