When Mike Mann finally got free and hit some threes, Mechanicville’s big lead disappeared quickly in Friday night’s Section II Class B quarterfinal game with Mekeel Christian Academy at Hudson Valley.
But it wasn’t enough.
“It was a great answer by them,” coach Chad Bowman said after the Red Raiders subdued his Lions, 75-62. “When they needed a big shot, they got it. When they needed a big play, they got it.”
Mechanicville pulled away from a two-point lead with an 11-2 run, and then sank 10 free throws to lock up the win and gain another trip to the Glens Falls Civic Center, where two years ago it claimed the Class C championship.
Senior guards Logan Polsinello and Nico Dumas combined for 53 points, and had all but one in the decisive fourth-quarter spurt after a three by Mann made it 54-52.
“At Mechanicville, we’re small, but we have big hearts,” said Red Raiders coach Rian Richardson. “We tried to outhustle them. Our guys really wanted it tonight.”
Mechanicville (No. 5 seed, 16-4) spent most of the game holding off Mekeel (No. 4, 18-2) after Polsinello sank a go-ahead three at the end of the first quarter and converted a four-point play early in the second to put the Red Raiders up, 17-11.
“The key was early in the game. We had some empty trips and they shot well, especially Logan,” said Bowman. “That gave them the lead to work with. It was catch up after that, although we did make a run.”
Polsinello finished with 30 points which included four of his five threes in the first half and 11 consecutive free throws before two misses in the final seconds. Dumas totaled 23 points, 13 coming in the middle quarters when Mechanicville extended its lead to 50-39.
“Senior leadership is so important,” said Richardson. “We have three senior guards on our team, and at different times they stepped up.”
Mano Senthil topped the Lions with 23 points and six assists, and Mann had 12 points on four threes in the final frame. The sophomore’s first two came back-to-back and sliced into an 11-point deficit, and his next with 5:30 left made it 54-52.
“Mike is a Mechanicville guy,” said Richardson. “We know how dangerous he can be. We did a super job on him until that stretch in the fourth quarter.”
Polsinello gave Mechanicville a 56-52 lead on a drive, C.J. Tironi made a foul shot and Polsinellio dropped in two more to begin the 11-2 run. Senthil had a layup afterward, but fouled out with 4:22 to go.
“Mano is a great player,” Richardson said of the Lions’ lone senior, who had 27 points in a 53-41 first-round win against Fonda-Fultonville. “Clearly, when the other team loses a player like that, they’re not as good.”
Dumas made a foul shot after Senthil’s exit and added a three-pointer. A layup by Polsinello capped the key run, making it 65-54, and all but ended the Lions’ 10-game winning streak and bid for a fourth semifinal berth in five years.
“That shows we can battle through anything,” said Polsinello. “That shows we can handle adversity.”
Mechanicville went 10-for-16 from the line after Polsinello’s layup made it 65-54. The Red Raiders went 18-for-26 from the line in the fourth quarter, and 31-for-45 for the game.
“They shot pretty well from beyond the arc early on, and they shot well from the line all night,” said Bowman.
“We made shots,” said Polsinello. “That was the most important factor in this game.”
Mechanicville put together a 10-2 run in the second quarter and a 10-1 run in the third to build its advantage against the state’s No. 16-ranked team that had won the Western Athletic Conference Southern Division and overall titles.
Mechanicville will take on Voorheesville (No. 1, 19-1) in a Tuesday night semifinal at the Civic Center. The Blackbirds posted a 65-53 win over Catskill (No. 8, 15-5).
Dumas 6-8-23, E. Dunn 0-6-6, Polsinello 7-11-30, K. Dunn 2-0-4, Cannizzo 3-2-8, Tironi 0-4-4. Totals: 18-31-75.
MEKEEL CHRISTIAN ACADEMY
A. Mulvey 1-2-5, Sexton 0-1-1, Senthil 6-10-23, Mann 4-0-12, Newman 2-3-7, White 3-0-6, C. Mulvey 4-0-8. Totals: 20-16-62.
Mechanicville 13 20 17 25 — 75
Mekeel CA 11 14 14 23 — 62
Three-point goals: Dumas 3, Polsinello 5, A. Mulvey, Senthil, Mann 4.