Every so often, a team that hangs in there is rewarded at the end.
Duanesburg was such a team Friday night in an entertaining game that saw players from the Schoburg football squad mixing it up rather than meshing.
“We made just enough plays and just enough shots so they didn’t widen the gap,” Duanesburg coach John Johnson said after his Eagles came back to edge Schoharie, 53-52. “We gave ourselves a chance.”
Dylan Madison sank a crucial three-point basket, and Kevin Lenehan dropped in two free throws for the deciding points soon after in the Western Athletic Conference Southern Division contest. Two of Lenehan’s football teammates, Drew Rice and Connor Brown, played big roles after he made it 53-52 with 15.4 seconds left.
“You play harder when you know their kids,” said Brown, a senior forward who collected 15 points, 14 rebounds and six steals for the Indians. “You’ve got to give them a run for their money.”
Schoharie (2-1, 3-2) did that, leading throughout the game before Duanesburg (2-1, 6-1) made a late spurt and ended its losing streak against the Indians at nine games.
“We persevered through adversity,” said Duanesburg senior guard Chris Smalls, who scored seven of his 21 points in the fourth quarter. “We made some stops. We made some shots. We had some luck.”
Duanesburg’s only lead of the game before Lenehan’s free throws was 2-0, after Smalls delivered on a drive.
“We played so well, and we made four crucial mistakes in the last 30 seconds,” said Schoharie coach Shane Barton.
“Our thought was we’ve got to go in and get the ‘W’. We knew we would have to play hard,” said Brown. “We had a few key mistakes in the end, things we have to fix.”
Schoharie lost the ball out of bounds before Lenehan was fouled driving the lane, and the 6-foot-4 junior nudged Duanesburg ahead.
“I was pretty nervous, but I’ve been practicing a lot,” said Lenehan, who had four points to go with nine rebounds and a pair of steals. “I blocked eveything out and made the free throws.”
Lenehan had scored 24 points in a loss to Mekeel Christian Academy Wednesday, and had other outings with 26 and 19.
“Going into the game, he was our No. 1 focus. He’s 6-4 and he’s their scoring leader,” said Barton. “We kept him down until the last play.”
Rice came up with a steal after Lenehan’s free throws and was fouled, yet missed two from the line with 8.7 seconds left. The ball ended up in Brown’s hands on Schoharie’s final trip at the end line near the Indians’ basket. Brown was triple-teamed when he tried to pass to James Sacket in the lane, the ball was tipped, and the Indians didn’t get a shot off.
“I tried to dish it to James. I had Lenehan and some other guys all around me,” said Brown. “Maybe I should have gone up and tried to get fouled.”
“That’s something our guys are getting better at. Recognizing situations on their own and reacting,” said Johnson. “That’s what they did there.”
Sacket led Schoharie with 24 points, his last two coming on a runner that gave the visitors a 52-48 lead, and Madison got Duanesburg within one a three with 54 seconds left. Madison then made a steal, but Duanesburg lost the ball on a travel call.
“They’re good at not dwelling on things.” said Johnson. “Mistakes, turnovers, they keep plugging.”
Sacket had given Schoharie an early 10-4 lead on a putback before Nick Loukides made back-to-back threes for Duanesburg. Schoharie worked its advantage to 27-17 late in the second quarter on two free throws by Brown, and the Eagles answered on a three by Smalls and a short jumper by Loukides.
Schoharie opened up a 46-39 lead early in the fourth on a Sacket fall-away, and Duanesburg pull even on a free throw by Mitchell Hulbert, a three-point play by Smalls and a three-pointer by the 12th-grader who was wearing his lucky Batman socks.
“We haven’t lost when I’ve worn them,” Smalls said.
Brown 5-4-15, Sacket 11-2-24, O’Neill 1-0-2, Keyser 2-0-5, Silverlieb 3-0-6. Totals: 22-6-52.
Loukides 4-0-11, Lenehan 1-2-4, Smalls 8-3-21, Hulbert 2-1-7, Rice 1-1-3, Madison 3-0-7. Totals: 19-7-53.
Schoharie 14 13 15 10 — 52
Duanesburg 13 9 17 14 — 53
Three-point goals: Brown, Keyser, Loukides 3, Smalls 2, Hulbert 2, Madison.