The marathon basketball game had just ended, and Guilderland coach Ron Osinski was already looking ahead.
“Look at the banners on our walls. There’s no sectional championship for us,” he said after Wednesday’s 102-100 five-overtime win against Columbia. “We’d like to bring one to Guilderland.”
The Dutchmen (19-2) will get their chance tonight when they take on Green Tech (15-5) for the Class AA flag at the Times Union Center at 7:30. They got there with an incredible display of will on the same court. The Blue Devils were equally impressive in their show of grit.
“It was a great effort by both teams,” said Osinski.
The semifinal contest lasted 2 1⁄2 hours. In the first four overtimes, the teams were never separated by more than three points. Guilderland scored the final points in the first and fourth OTs, and Columbia delivered last in the second and third.
“It was the greatest athletic event I’ve ever been a part of,” said retiring Columbia coach Jim Obermayer. “It could be one of the great basketball games in Section II history.”
The length of the game is believed to be a Section II record. The combined 202 points are believed to be another all-time area high. Columbia’s Jahlil Nails dropped in 41 of them, including a runner that tied the game at 63-63 and brought on the first overtime.
“Has to be the first time two teams have scored 100,” said Bill Higgins, the state basketball chairman whose coaching career started in 1959.
The teams combined for 179 shots from the field with 51 three-pointers, and 64 free throws were taken. There were also 123 rebounds snared, 50 fouls called, 30 turnovers, 18 steals and 12 blocked shots.
“It was a crazy experience,” said Guilderland senior Billy Floyd.
Floyd was one of seven double-digit scorers, finishing with 22 points, his last 10 coming in the final overtime. He began that four-minute session with a three-point basket to give the Dutchmen the lead for good, and proceeded to go 7-for-8 from the line.
Floyd scored a career-high 18 points in a 75-50 first-round win against LaSalle before topping that.
“He’s been clutch in all three sectional games,” said Osinski.
Nails passed John Lyons on the Columbia single-season scoring list and could have had more, but the star junior sustained a knee injury late in the second overtime after scoring down low and hitting two foul shots for his 40th and 41st points. He returned briefly in the final OT before taking a seat.
“Nails tried to gut it out,” said Obermayer.
Elijah Lott scored all but two of his 26 points in the second half and overtime and grabbed 21 rebounds for Columbia. Austin Miller had 16 points, and his three tied the game at 74-74 in the final seconds of the second OT.
Matt Cerutti piled up 29 points and 26 rebounds for Guilderland, and Marc duMoulin had 28 points and 10 rebounds. DuMoulin played the final 24 minutes with four fouls, and the senior’s baskets down low left the first OT tied at 67 and the fourth even at 89.
“Each team had to come back with seconds to go and make big plays,” said Osinski.
Guilderland’s playoff history is dotted with overtime games, including a triple-OT 85-83 win over Christian Brothers Academy in the 2002 quarterfinals. The Dutchmen lost to Troy in the semis that year in OT, 57-55.
Green Tech defeated Shenendehowa, 58-52, to advance, 58-52. Najwee Ward scored 15 points and Jamil Hood Jr. had 14 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
“We’re familiar with Green Tech. We’ve played them in summer league and we know what we’re going to see,” said Osinski. “They’ve got a Division I player [Hood Jr.] and he’s surrounded by other good basketball players. They’re athletic. They have size and quickness and they shoot well.”
Green Tech is back in the large-school final after a 70-55 loss to Troy last year. Guilderland’s only previous title-game appearance came in 2004 and the Dutchmen lost to CBA, 62-57.
“I think we need to play a good basketball game,” said Osinski. “We’ve got to cut down on our mistakes. We made too many the other night, and obviously, we have to make free throws. Every possession is important which is something I’ve been stressing.”