When Schenectady broke through Catholic Central’s press, it did some wonderful things with the basketball in Saturday’s Big 10 contest at the Pat Riley Sports Center.
The Patriots didn’t have quite enough success doing that.
“When we relaxed against their press and didn’t dribble and moved the ball, we got a lot of layups,” said Schenectady coach Eric Loudis. “When we went to the dribble game, that gave us a lot of problems.”
Twenty nine turnovers by the Patriots including several down the stretch, combined with Anthony Mack’s hot hand, left the Crusaders unbeaten with a 70-61 Big 10 victory.
Mack scored 25 second-half points and matched his season best with 32 in all. The star sophomore guard’s last eight points came in a closing 13-0 run for the state’s No. 14-ranked Class AA team.
“Mr. Mack played very, very well. He had an outstanding second half,” said Loudis. “Even though he was hitting his shots, we were right there.”
Schenectady (8-5, 9-6) held a 61-58 lead with 3:22 to go after Tobias Holmes nailed a three-pointer. Schenectady could have been up by more had it not been for all those lost possessions.
“It’s not your normal 2-2-1 [press]. We do different things with different nuances,” said Catholic Central coach Chuck Mack. “With a Loudis team, you can’t stay the same.”
“Most of it was instinct,” Anthony Mack said of his team’s defensive performance. “It was big. We stopped some of the runs they were on.”
Schenectady also struggled against Catholic Central’s non-stop pressure defense and turned the ball over 31 times in a 58-54 road loss on Dec. 18.
“Both games were close. Both times, we kept turning it over,” said Schenectady senior forward Randall Symes. “If we kept the turnovers down, we would have definitely beat them.”
Raiquis Harris led Catholic Central with five steals and scored 10 points, Mack had four steals and Jiriem Tedder added two steals and delivered 11 points.
“Their press is very active. We went faster than we needed to. We thought we had to dribble through it,” said Loudis. “We panicked at times.”
Mack began the Crusaders’ (11-0, 13-0) finishing spurt with a game-tying three, and his contribution afterward included three foul shots, a putback basket and a pair of steals. Tedder followed Mack’s three with a go-ahead jumper, and a steal by Brian Brooks moments later led to a pair of free throws by Mack.
“I saw it and I took it,” said Mack of his fifth three-point basket. “I’m thinking, ‘I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do to stop their run and get us going.’ ”
Malik Miller, a 6-foot-8 Lansingburgh transfer who missed the first game against the Pats with an injury, had his third double-double for the Crusaders by totaling 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Keenan Chandler scored a season-high 16 points for Schenectady, Symes collected 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocked two shots and Keishaun Wheelings had 10 points and 12 rebounds.
“We had the turnovers, but we also did a lot of good things and we were in the game the whole way,” said Symes. “We capitalized on some things and hit some key shots.”
Though Schenectady tied the game three times in the second half, it never took a lead until Chandler dropped in a three with 6:20 left to make it 53-51. Mack answered with a tying jumper, and Tedder’s steal and layup pushed the Crusaders ahead.
Chandler’s free throw and his layup off a steal, and a tip-in by Holmes, gave the Pats a 58-55 advantage. Mack then tied the game with a deep three-pointer.
“We’re up, 58-55, and he hit that 40-foot three with a guy’s hand in his face,” said Loudis. “That’s a big-time shot for a 10th-grader.”
Holmes’ three that made it 61-58 was part of the eighth-grader’s seven-point outing. He also had seven rebounds and four steals. Towan Hamlin also scored seven points, all in the first half, with his drive starting a 7-1 run that got the Pats within 33-31 at the break.
Harris 4-1-10, Brooks 1-2-5, Tedder 5-0-11, Mack 11-5-32, Miller 4-4-12. Totals: 25-12-70.
Chandler 5-3-16, Hamlin 3-1-7, Holmes 3-0-7, Langston 1-1-3, Lind 2-2-6, Symes 6-0-12, Wheelings 4-2-10. Totals: 24-9-61.
Catholic Central 18 15 15 22 — 70
Schenectady 15 16 14 16 — 61
Three-point goals: Harris, Brooks, Tedder, Mack 5, Chandler 3, Holmes.