SCHENECTADY — Just like old times? It’s starting to look that way for Schenectady, which, like its predecessors, can play some pretty good defense to go with that balanced scoring.
“We gave up 29 points the other night against Burnt Hills. We gave up 40 in the first half,” Schenectady coach Eric Loudis said after Thursday’s comeback 75-65 Suburban Council win against Albany at the Pat Riley Sports Center. “I told them that was not acceptable.”
The Patriots, and Elijah Nisbitt in particular, responded positively in what was their sixth straight victory to begin the season.
The last time Schenectady started so well, in the 2005-06 season, it won 20 games and made it to the Section II Class AA final four.
“That’s the best thing about this team,” Nisbitt, a 6-foot-5 senior forward, said. “Different guys can step up on any night. I saw a lot of opportunities to do that.”
Nisbitt was the defensive catalyst in a second half where Schenectady surrendered 25 points, blocking four shots, drawing two charges and making a steal that led to a crucial basket.
“Nisbitt played his rear end off,” Schenectady senior forward Tyrone Jenkins said. “We needed him, and he came through for us.”
Jenkins had three of his five steals over the final two quarters, and half of his career-high 28 points. Dashawn Westbrook scored a career-best 20 points — including a 3-pointer that broke a 60-60 tie with 3:35 left, and Cameron Coles scored 11 points, including a layup that padded the lead moments later.
Nisbitt’s steal set up Coles’ bucket, and he drew the two charges afterward, one leading to a layup by Jenkins that made it 67-61 with just over a minute left.
“In the beginning of the year coach said, ‘I need you to do the little things,’ ” said Nisbitt, who scored four points. “I told him, ‘I’ll do that for the team.’ ”
Schenectady pulled out its second win against an old Big 10 rival, having edged 2016 state Class A runner-up Troy last week 77-74 behind John Ryals career-high 30 points. Ryals managed just nine Thursday while dealing with foul trouble.
“I was hot,” Jenkins, who had eight rebounds to go with his steals and points, said. “They fed me, and I fed back.”
Hamadi Gaddy was the top scorer for Albany (3-3, 3-4) with 30 points, 18 coming in the first half when the Falcons build a 40-34 advantage.
“They were coming off a loss to Mohonasen, and that gave them a little more gas on the fire,” Loudis said of the Falcons. “We knew what we were going to get, and in the first half they got us out of our game.”
Albany was still up after three 52-51, and a 6-0 spurt that Jacorey Nixon finished with two layups had the Falcons on top 60-57 midway through the fourth. Schenectady tied it when Ryals turned a steal into a layup, drew a foul, and converted a three-point play.
“We are a team,” Jenkins said. “We all have different abilities. We put that into a run.”
Jenkins dropped in two layups during Schenectady’s closing 18-5 run, and Ryals had a layup and two foul shots to go with his three-point play that started it.
“Jenkins fouled out in our last three games,” Loudis said. “If he can stay in the game he can be a dominant force.”
Gaddy dominated the second quarter with 15 points, hitting a 3-pointer and converting a pair of 3-point plays when the Falcons put together a 23-11 run.
“Our kids came back and fought,” Loudis, whose team overcame 17 turnovers, said. “That was not an easy game.”
In a sign of things to come, Jenkins started the third quarter with a steal and a layup. Schenectady had nine steals and five blocked shots in the second half.
“We picked up the tempo,” Jenkins said. “We turned it up.”
Gaddy had Albany’s only field goal after Nixon’s basket made it 60-57, an uncontested layup with seconds to go. Nixon totaled 13 points including a slam dunk during Albany’s big second quarter.
Bertrand 2-1-5, Choudhri 0-2-2, Gaddy 12-4-30, John 4-2-10, Jorge 0-3-3, Nixon 6-1-13, Terry 1-0-2. Totals: 25-13-65.
Coles 4-3-11, DeJesus 1-0-3, Jenkins 9-8-28, Nisbitt 2-0-4, Ryals 2-5-9, Westbrook 5-6-20. Totals: 23-22-75.
Albany 17 23 12 13 — 65
Schenectady 23 11 17 24 — 75
Three-point goals: Gaddy 2, DeJesus, Jenkins, Westbrook 4.
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.