Coach Ron Osinski was thrilled with the way his Guilderland basketball team operated against Albany Academy’s pesky man-to-man defense Saturday in a non-league game.
“We had not been doing so well against man-to-man because we were rushing it,” Osinski said after the Dutchmen recorded a 70-65 victory. “We attacked it well. When they went to double on us, we found the open guy. This team has a lot of savvy.”
Showing patience in the halfcourt and running when it was there, Guilderland built a double-digit lead in the third quarter and another in the fourth before holding off the defending state Class A Federation champions.
Four Dutchmen scored in twin figures, led by Matt Cerutti with a career-high 25 points, and the win left them 4-0 for the first time since the 2008-09 season. It was also the Dutchmen’s fourth straight game in which they reached the 70-point mark, aided by a 24-for-36 foul-shooting effort.
“It was a game that brought out the best in us,” said Osinski. “It was good to see how we would challenge against a program like that.”
Guilderland led after each of the first three quarter breaks, and was up, 55-44, with four minutes to go in the final frame. Albany Academy (2-1) didn’t go away, though, and got to within one behind the play of Matt Knezovic.
“This is the first time we faced adversity,” said Cerutti, a 6-foot-5 senior who pulled down 13 rebounds and blocked two shots. “We knew they were not going to go away, and things got tough for the first time. We kept attacking and did enough good things to get the win, and it’s a big confidence booster.”
Guilderland turned in fine stretches of basketball through the first three quarters, which resulted in runs of 9-0, 8-2 and 14-0.
“We did a good job of contolling the halfcourt offense,” said Osinski. “I also thought we did a pretty good job of taking away their inside game.”
Knezovic fueled Academy’s comeback by scoring 16 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, with the senior swingman’s two foul shots slicing the Cadets’ deficit to 66-65 with 10 seconds left.
Cerutti answered with two free throws, and after a three-point miss at the other end by Ray Jerome and a Vin Simeone rebound, Simeone clinched the victory with two more from the line.
Simeone finished with 16 points, Marc duMoulin had 10 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and two blocks, and Andrew Platek had 10 points with four assists.
“Guilderland is a team fighting for respect,” said Albany Academy coach Brian Fruscio. “They took a real positive step forward.”
Guilderland was at its best in the third quarter, pulling away from a 33-33 tie with 14 unanswered points. All five Dutchmen starters scored in the flurry, which started with a Billy Floyd jumper and a Cerutti tip-in. Simeone followed with a layup, and Platek and duMoulin both added a couple of free throws.
When Floyd hit another jumper and duMoulin delivered on a drive after a Cerutti block, Guilderland had stretched its advantage to 47-33.
“We’ve got weapons everywhere, inside and outside, and we can all run,” said Cerutti.
“They’re a veteran team,” said Osinski. “Basically, they made plays.”
Nick Fruscio ended the third quarter with a layup, snapping Guilderland’s string, and then triggered a 9-2 run by the Cadets to start the final period with a jumper, a three-pointer and a free throw. Cerutti scored on a runner before DuMoulin’s layup and two free throws made it 55-44.
Knezovic proceeded to notch 13 of the Cadets’ final 19 points. His jumper with 28.3 seconds left made it 66-61, and Jerome came up with a steal and a layup afterward. Knezovic’s free throws with 10 seconds left came after Platek misfired twice from the line at the other end.
“Our guys don’t know the turnoff switch. We executed some plays and gave ourselves a chance,” said coach Fruscio. “Our guys will fight until the final buzzer.”
Cerutti scored 15 first-half points, which included a tip-in in traffic, a three-point basket and a three-point play. Cerutti missed his junior season with a core muscle injury that required two surgeries.
“It’s just huge having him back,” Osinski said of his tri-captain, who not only gives the team scoring and rebounding, but another defensive presence down low to go with duMoulin. “He’s still feeling his way through, and this week was a tough week with three games, but he weathered the storm.”
Rory Flaherty scored nine points for Academy on a trio of threes, all of them coming in the second quarter. His third bomb gave the Cadets their last lead at 22-21, and Guilderland responded with a quick spurt that Nick Bruni started with a jumper. Cerutti then nailed a three and Plateck added a free threw.
“Cerutti was great, and there’s more to come,” said coach Fruscio. “Every minute he’s on the court, he gets better.”
Albany Academy had opened its season with wins over Shenendehowa and Ogdensburg Free Academy. Guilderland beat Bethlehem, Columbia and Colonie before Saturday’s contest.
Moutopoulos 3-2-8, Knezovic 9-6-28, Jerome 2-1-6, Signor 1-0-2, Jackson 2-0-4, Flaherty 3-0-9, Fruscio 3-1-8. Totals: 23-10-65.
Floyd 3-0-6, V. Simeone 5-5-16, Platek 2-6-10, R. Simeone 0-1-1, Bruni 1-0-2, duMoulin 2-6-10, Cerutti 9-6-25. Totals: 22-24-70.
Albany Academy 10 18 7 30 — 65
Guilderland 14 17 16 23 — 70
Three-point goals: Knozovic 4, Jerome, Flaherty 3, Fruscio, V. Simeone, Cerutti.