Catskill had a flicker of hope, and from the top of the circle, Jordan Gleason snatched it away.
Watervliet’s senior guard swished a three-point basket with two seconds left in the first half to restore order, and the Cannoneers stayed comfortably ahead from there in a 76-53 Section II Class B semifinal win Tuesday night at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Gleason’s fourth three of the opening half made it 35-22, and the Cats were never able to duplicate the kind of run that had made it a game.
“It was definitely a big shot. He’s known for that,” said Watervliet senior forward Tyler McLeod, who, along with Gleason, are the chief holdovers from last season’s state runner-up team. “That gave us all the momentum we needed heading into the second half.”
Gleason scored 16 of his 22 points in the first half, and McLeod netted 14 of his 27 over the final two quarters to go with his 17 rebounds and five assists. Ray Shane added 15 points and nine rebounds for the Colonial Council Patriot Division champs.
“As leaders, that’s our job. Coach expects it and the other guys expect it,” said McLeod, who was 8-for-18 from the field and 10-for-13 from the line. “Me and Jordan led it off, and the other guys picked it up.”
McLeod netted eight points in the first quarter to help the Cannoneers open up a 15-8 lead, and Gleason delivered 11 in the second period with a trio of threes, his last being the most significant.
“They had a run going, and we were looking sloppy,” said Gleason. “That [three] gathered us. It calmed us down, and we came out and finished the game.”
Watervliet held a 30-13 lead after Ray scored down low. Catskill (No. 4, 19-2) put together a 9-2 spurt that Jordan Brantly started with a pair of putback baskets and Derrick Heath capped with a layup.
Gleason dropped in a three to boost Watervliet’s advantage, and after Christian Coutu started the third quarter with a trey for the Cats, McLeod triggered a put-away 11-4 flurry with seven points. Gleason had the other four, with his layup off a McLeod feed making it 46-29, and Watervliet (No. 1 seed, 13-8, five forfeit losses) was on its way to a fourth consecutive championship game.
Gleason had a career-high 40 points and tied his own school record with eight threes in a 55-27 quarterfinal win over Broadalbin-Perth.
“This feels amazing. We put in the work and the dedication,” said McLeod. “It feels great to share this with a whole new group of guys.”
The two-time defending Class B titlists will take on Schuylerville Saturday night at 5:30 in Glens Falls after the Black Horses clipped Cairo-Durham, 44-41, earlier Tuesday.
“Schuylerville plays hard. They play 32 minutes of basketball,” said McLeod. “We expect their best shot.”
Watervliet contested shots with vigor as part of its victory, and the Patroon Conference champs ended up making just two of their 21 three-point attempts.
“The game plan was to stop penetration and close out their shooters,” said Gleason, who had two of his team’s seven steals as well as eight rebounds. “We knew we had to get it done at the defensive end.”
Brantley paced the Cats with 24 points and 11 rebounds, and Dan Green added 11 points.
Tyler Hayes hit a three-point basket with 1:50 left to start a 6-0 run, and Schuylerville held off Cairo-Durham to reach its second final in three years.
Hayes’ three, a layup by Shane Lyon and Ryan Buell’s foul shot had the Black Horses (No. 2, 20-1) on top, 44-41. Brendan Halligan missed a three for the Mustangs (No. 6, 17-4) with four seconds left, and another at the buzzer.
Lyon scored 20 points to go with seven rebounds. Chance Ryan led Cairo-Durham with 14 points and Halligan had 10. Ryan’s three and layup gave the Mustangs a 41-38 lead.
Mat Yamin scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half, and Brendan Bellanti’s key steal and free throw afterward gave Loudonville Christian School just enough breathing room in a 47-46 semifinal win over Fort Ann.
Bellanti’s free throw gave the Eagles (No. 2, 19-1) a 47-43 lead with 7.9 seconds left, and Derek Durkee nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer for the Cardinals (No. 3, 15-6).
Durkee scored 17 points including the 1,000th of his career, pulled down eight rebounds and assisted on four hoops. Gabe Brown had 15 points for Loudonville Christian.
Argyle (No. 1, 19-0) and Germantown (No. 4, 14-6) meet in the other Class D semifinal tonight at 5. Argyle is the defending small-school champion, and the state’s top-ranked team.
In tonight’s Class C semifinals, Greenwich (No. 3, 15-5) and Lake George (No. 2, 18-2) meet at 6:30, and Canajoharie (No. 4, 17-3) tangles with Hoosic Valley (No. 1, 17-2) at 8.
WATERVLIET 76, CATSKILL 53
Gray 4-0-8, Heath 0-4-4, Lyles 1-1-3, Brantley 10-3-24, Green 2-7-11, Coutou 1-0-3. Totals: 18-15-53.
WATERVLIETleason 9-0-22, Gilmore 2-1-5, McLeod 8-10-27, Bruce 1-1-3, McConico 1-2-4, Ray 6-3-15. Totals: 27-17-76.
Catskill 8 14 18 13 — 53
Watervliet 15 20 19 22 — 76
Three-point goals: Brantley, Coutu, Gleason 4, McLeod.
SCHUYLERVILLE 44, CAIRO-DURHAM 41
Dewey 2-2-7, Ryan 5-3-14, Ballard 1-2-4, Spohler 1-2-4, Halligan 4-0-10. Totals: 14-8-41.
Lyon 9-1-20, Hayes 2-0-6, Cook 1-0-2, Langley 1-0-2, Richard 2-0-4, Waldron 2-1-5, Buell 1-1-3. Totals: 19-3-44.
Cairo-Durham 12 12 11 6 — 41
Schuylerville 12 9 10 13 — 44
Three-point goals: Dewey, Ryan, Spohler, Halligan 2, Lyon, Hayes 2.
LOUDONVILLE CHRISTIAN 47, FORT ANN 46
Jackson 3-0-8, Palmer 5-0-10, Durkee 6-4-17, Bailey 5-0-11, Lehoisky 0-0-0. Totals: 19-4-46.
Bellanti 1-1-4, Keener 1-0-2, Brown 5-3-15, Yamin 7-2-17, Hilton 4-1-9. Totals: 19-4-47.
Fort Ann 6 12 12 16 — 46
Loudonville Christian 6 8 17 16 — 47
Three-point goals: Jackson 2, Durkee, Bailey, Bellanti, Brown 2, Yamin.