The Siena College men’s basketball team opened its season with double-digit setbacks on the road at defending national champion Duke and the team the Blue Devils beat for the title — Wisconsin.
The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake boys’ basketball team did the Saints one better, opening Tuesday with a Suburban Council loss at reigning state Class AA champion Shenendehowa before Wednesday’s non-league trip to Scotia-Glenville, last season’s New York Class A titlist.
“We had to pick up a non-league game,” first-year Burnt Hills coach Shawn Kline said. “We wanted to play a competitive team, and they had an opening. We’re hoping to play them every year.”
The renewal between the one-time Suburban rivals went Scotia-Glenville’s way, just like every Section II game has for the Tartans over the last few years, 76-31.
“I think it was time to get the Route 50 thing back in action,” Tartans coach Jim Giammattei said. “This is a great thing playing them. It’s phenomenal to have them here.
“The only drawback is we won’t get a home and a away. The schools are so close.”
Tuesday’s game was, too, but only for a few minutes, before Scotia-Glenville’s young but vibrant cast went on a 19-5 second-quarter run and followed with a 25-6 third-quarter spurt.
The victory was Scotia-Glenville’s 59th straight in the regular season and its 70 consecutive triumph against Section II foes. Those runs began late in the 2011-12 season following a loss to Glens Falls.
“Their kids work and it shows on the court,” Kline said of the Tartans, who were sparked by varsity lettermen Sean DeGraffenreid, Dan Clune and Christian Corker. “They just play basketball. We’ve got kids transitioning from other sports.”
While Scotia-Glenville strung points, Burnt Hills struggled from the field for the second night in a row. Shenendehowa won Tuesday’s contest 86-18, which, like Wednesday’s game, included a huge mid-game scoring binge by the hosts.
“Right now, we’re not finding the basket,” said Kline, who got a team-high 11 points from junior guard Alexander Wellington. “We’ve got scorers. It’s frustrating for them. They’ve got to remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and keep their heads up and keep working.
“You can’t hang your head. It doesn’t do anything for you.”
The Tartans emerged from their locker room beaming. Their solid performance included 12 steals out of their 3-2 zone defense and 18 assists, and those were the stats that pleased Giammattei the most.
“I think we did a great job sharing the ball. They looked to make the extra pass,” he said. “I liked how they moved on defense, too. Sharing the ball and defense have been consistent in our program for many years. It was good to see that.”
Unlike Shenendehowa, which features Maryland-bound Kevin Huerter, Scotia-Glenville lost its lead guy, with two-time state player of the year Joe Cremo taking his considerable talents to the University at Albany. The Tartans, in fact, graduated all five starters from a 26-1 edition that lost only to Canisius in overtime in the Federation semifinals.
Before that loss, Mike Palleschi, Scott Stopera, Diamond Corker and Joe Almond teamed with Cremo as the Tartans claimed their third straight Foothills Council, fourth straight Section II and second consecutive regional and New York State Public High School Athletic Association flags.
“We want to put ourselves in a situation where we have a chance to get to Glens Falls in late February,” said Giammattei, referring to the Section II final four. “We want to become as cohesive as we can as a unit, and give ourselves an opportunity. Let’s face it. We’re a different team. I believe that’s a realistic goal at this point for this group.”
“We’ve got to take it one step at a time,” said Clune, a junior forward who had 12 points, 14 rebounds, four steals an four assists. “Win games and keep building.”
DeGraffenreid scored 27 points, including seven in the second quarter and eight in a 20-0 run to begin the third.
BURNT HILLS-BALLSTON LAKE
Agan 1-0-2, Carroll 1-0-2, Je. Clayton 1-0-2, Jo. Clayton 2-0-4, Craig 1-0-2, DeLano 1-1-4, Fisher 2-0-4, Wellington 3-2-11. Totals: 12-3-31.
Clune 4-3-12, Corker 4-3-14, DeGraffenreid 7-10-27, Jerreld 1-0-2, Martin 4-0-11, TenEyck 3-0-8, Woodley 1-0-2. Totals: 24-16-76.
BH-BL 10 5 6 10 — 31
Scotia 17 19 25 15 — 76
Three-point goals: DeLano, Wellington 3, Clune, Corker 3, DeGraffenreid 3, Martin 3, TenEyck 2.