Niskayuna played like a different team in the second half of Wednesday night’s Arthur Hilliard Memorial Basketball Tournament championship game.
Schenectady did, too.
“It was kind of like yesterday. We came out flat,” Niskayuna senior guard Andrew Evans said after the Silver Warriors’ 75-59 win at the Pat Riley Sports Center. “In the second half we stuck to the game plan. We did what coach told us. We played tough defense and rebounded.”
Niskayuna also piled up the points, using a 28-8 third-quarter spree to take charge in what would be its first Hilliard championship.
Niskayuna’s only previous title-game appearance came back in 1978, when the Silver Warriors lost to Linton after beating Mont Pleasant.
“I’ve been coming to this tournament since I was young,” Evans said. “I’ve seen some great teams here and some great players. It’s special.”
Evans put his name among those with superb two-game efforts at the Hilliard, firing in 33 points after connecting for 29 in Tuesday’s come-from-behind 71-60 win against Newburgh Free Academy. His backcourt mate, all-tourney pick Tommy Kelly, contributed 18 points, and 6-foot-7 Aidan Byrne had eight points, 14 rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks.
“They have a nice team,” Schenectady coach Eric Loudis said. “They played a strong second half against Newburgh Free Academy and they played a strong second half against us.”
Schenectady (7-3) held a 37-32 halftime lead before Niskayuna (7-2) opened the third quarter with a 14-4 run, and finished it with a 14-0 spurt.
“We had a very good first half,” Loudis said after his team’s six-game win streak was snapped. “We got in foul trouble. I had to take guys out.”
And the Niskayuna guys flourished, particularly Evans, who generated 14 third-quarter points with a layup and four threes. Evans added eight fourth-quarter points.
“Coach told me to continue to shoot,” Evans said. “My teammates did a great job of setting me up.”
Kelly notched eight points in the third quarter, and scored on a jumper and a drive as part of a game-sealing 8-2 run to begin the fourth.
“At the half we talked about being consistent,” Niskayuna coach Bryan Mattice said. “Play solid defense. Keep them to one shot and rebound the ball. We did that especially well in the first four minutes of the third quarter, then we decided to turn the volume up with our press.”
After turning the ball over four times in the first half, Schenectady lost it 13 times in the second half. Twelve of those 13 miscues came in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
“We’ve seen press before,” Loudis said. “We didn’t execute.”
Evans started and finished Niskayuna’s 14-4, third-quarter run with three-point baskets. The senior nailed two more deep balls and scored on a drive in the 14-0 surge that followed.
“In the second half he [Evans] penetrated more. Cam [Coles] had three fouls and had to back off a bit,” Loudis said. “He attacked and that opened up some things for other guys.”
Mattice was extremely happy for his guys, who rallied from an eight-point halftime hole to beat Newburgh before overtaking the Patriots.
“We’ve got 15 guys who
really work. They 110 percent deserve it,” Mattice said. “We played a motivated team. Eric had them ready to play. Our guys were steadfast. They fought.”
All-tourney pick Tobias Holmes led Schenectady with 19 points and nine rebounds. Roddy Delagrandeanse had 11 points and nine rebounds, and Coles, an all-tourney selection, added nine points and three assists.
Schenectady was seeking its first Hilliard title since 2007.
NISKAYUNA 75, SCHENECTADY 59
Byrne 2-4-8, Evans 12-4-33, Kelly 7-3-18, Laurillard 1-0-2, Rock 2-0-4, Signor 3-0-8, Funyak 1-0-2. Totals: 28-11-75.
Coles 4-1-9, Delagrandeanse 5-0-11, Fortune 1-0-3, Holmes 6-5-19, Jackson 1-0-2, Jenkins 1-0-2, Westbrook 2-2-8, Williams 1-2-5. Totals: 21-10-59.
Niskayuna 16 16 28 15 — 75
Schenectady 24 13 8 14 — 59
Three-point goals: Evans 5, Kelly, Signor 2, Delagrandeanse, Fortune, Holmes 2, Westbrook 2, Williams.
NEWBURGH FREE 62, SHAKER 51
Lane 9-4-24, Ricks 5-0-10, Bryant 1-2-4, Lawson 1-0-2, Mitchell 4-3-13, Clark 1-1-3, Holland 1-0-2, Leggett 2-0-4. Totals: 24-10-62.
DiCostanzo 2-2-6, Hayes 3-2-9, Comproski 4-3-11, Lue 0-2-2, Seiter 3-1-8, Cook 5-1-11, Dare 2-0-4. Totals: 19-11-51.
Newburgh Free 18 16 16 12 — 62
Shaker 13 10 8 20 — 51
Three-point goals: Lane 2, Mitchell 2, Hayes, Seiter.