Zach Yakel wanted to do something special Thursday night, and as Shaker’s Suburban Council basketball game against Shenendehowa closed in on the final minute, he did just that.
The senior guard sank a three-point basket with 62 seconds left and later added a pair of free throws to help the Blue Bison hold off the Plainsmen, 65-61, before a crowd of over 3,000 at Siena College’s Alumni Recreation Center.
Shenendehowa had erased all of a 19-point deficit before Yakel and his teammates put together a late 10-4 run and gave Shaker a two-game sweep on the benefit evening.
“We were turning the ball over, and we got into some foul trouble,” said Yakel. “We held it together. We stuck together.”
The Shaker girls earlier defeated Shenendehowa, 51-43, with proceeds from the two contests — over $22,000 — going to the memorial scholarship funds that have been set up in the names of Christopher F. Stewart and Deanna M. Rivers. The two popular Shenendehowa student-athletes died in a car accident Dec. 1. Matt Hardy of Shenendehowa and Bailey Wind of Shaker were also injured in the Northway accident.
Stewart and Wind were boyfriend and girlfriend, as were Rivers and Hardy. Stewart was also a cousin of Yakel.
“This was an emotion game for him,” Shaker coach Jeff Holmes said of Yakel. “He’s been through a lot. It’s been tough for him. This is a night he’ll never forget for a lot of reasons.”
“I had Chris and Bailey on my mind the whole game,” said Yakel. “I had to perform as well as I could for them.”
Yakel did play a stong game with his pesky defense that included two steals and his ball distribution that included six assists. He did not score a point, though, until the game was on the line.
Dylan Molloy nailed a three-pointer to pull Shenendehowa within 59-58, and after both teams came up empty on two possessions, Yakel delivered from long range after taking a feed from Malik Dare.
“I was playing for my cousin Chris,” Yakel said. “I knew I had to hit a shot sometime in the game. That was a great time to hit it.”
Yakel’s two free throws with 30.6 seconds left extended Shaker’s advantage to 64-58. Brandon Fischer sank a free throw for Shenendehowa, and David Morrison did the same for Shaker before Teddy McCarthy’s last-second layup created the final margin.
Shaker (7-1, 9-1) stayed ahead of Shenendehowa (5-2, 5-3) in the North Division title chase, and ended the Plainsmen’s four-game winning streak.
“To hang in there and weather the storm, that was great to see. Being a veteran team helped,” said Holmes. “Shenendehowa got down, and they didn’t go away. They’re not going to quit.”
Shenendehowa tied the game,
55- 55 on a foul shot by Drew Zaloga, and Shaker began its late push on two free throws by Dare and a successful drive by Chris Landers.
Landers scored 18 points for the Blue Bison, and Morrison had 21 points with 10 rebounds. Landers notched 11 second-quarter points, with his reverse layup giving Shaker a 36-17 lead. Shenendehowa closed the half with a 10-2 run and outscored Shaker in the third frame, 18-7, to make it an even matchup.
When Tom Huerter drove for a basket 10 seconds into the fourth quarter, Shenendehowa had its first lead at 47-45.
“You’ve got to give Shenendehowa credit,” said Yakel. “They kept coming after us.”
McCarthy paced Shenendehowa with 12 points, Molloy and Jake Hicks both finished with 10, and freshman Kevin Huerter added nine on a trio of threes. Huerter sank two of those long balls, and McCarthy had five points in the Plainsmen’s big third quarter.
Shaker put together 9-0 runs in both the first and second quarters in building its 19-point lead.
Shaker girls win
Lyric Artis scored 14 points, Merrick Rowland netted 12 off the bench and Madison Rowland was a defensive force with seven steals and three blocks as Shaker (8-0, 10-0), the state’s No. 17-ranked Class AA team, remained unbeaten.
Merrick Rowland sank three-pointers early and late in the fourth quarter, and Shaker went 6-for-9 from the line in between, to open up a 48-39 lead.
Shenendehowa (4-3, 6-3) had built a 31-27 third-quarter lead on a putback basket by Carly Boland, Alyssia Marsal’s free throw and a layup by Boland. Shaker closed the quarter with a 7-0 run that Julia Holland started with two layups and Adriene Gambles finished with a deep three to to make it 34-31.
Boland, a freshman, totaled 14 points and 10 rebounds.
SHAKER 65, SHENENDEHOWA 61
Dare 0-3-3, Gorman 2-0-6, Holmes 2-3-9, Kaurejo 1-0-3, Landers 8-2-18, Morrison 9-3-21, Yakel 1-2-5. Totals: 23-13-65.
Farkas 1-0-2, Fischer 3-1-7, Hicks 1-7-10, K. Huerter 3-0-9, T. Huerter 1-0-2, Kromer 0-2-2, McCarthy 5-0-12, Molloy 2-4-10, Zlogar 2-3-7. Totals: 18-17-61.
Shaker 21 17 7 20 — 65
Shenendehowa 7 20 18 16 — 61
Three-point goals: Gorman 2, Holmes 2, Kaurejo, Yakel, Hicks, K. Huerter 3, McCarthy 2, Molloy 2.
SHAKER 51, SHENENDEHOWA 43
Gambles 1-0-3, Barra 2-2-7, Ma. Rowland 2-0-4, Holland 2-2-6, Van Amerongen 2-1-5, Artis 5-4-14, Me. Rowland 4-2-12. Totals: 18-11-51.
Acker 2-0-6, Boland 6-2-14, Connors 1-0-2, Marsal 3-2-8, Sangare 2-2-6, Shea 2-0-4. Totals: 16-9-43.
Shaker 9 14 11 17 — 51
Shenendehowa 12 11 8 12 — 43
Three-point goals: Gambles, Barra, Me. Rowland 2, Acker 2.