CLIFTON PARK — Shenendehowa held a 20-point lead on Troy moments into the third quarter of Tuesday night's Suburban Council basketball game, and just like that, it was all gone.
"We started rushing," Plainsmen senior guard Chris Hulbert said. "We played into their hands. We have to get better and learn how to control games."
Shenendehowa regrouped late after its meltdown and prevailed 57-56 for its second straight last-second victory to begin the season.
Abbas Merchant scored 21 points for the Plainsmen including two baskets in an 8-2 closing run before Hulbert's blocked shot quelled the Flying Horses final possession.
"We've played eight quarters of basketball, and six I am happy with," Shenendehowa coach Tony Dzikas said. "Two I am not."
The veteran coach was referring to the second half Tuesday night when the Plainsmen led by as many as 20 (42-22) on a 3-pointer by Hulbert early in the third quarter, but trailed by five (54-49) midway through the fourth after a layup by Troy's Alonzo Alexander.
"In the first half, we let the offense come to us. We drove and kicked," said Merchant, Shenendehowa's junior point guard. "In the second half, we lost ourselves. Guys were trying to force it."
And Troy flourished when Shenendehowa changed from its patient style.
"We want to push the ball. We want to go, go, go," first-year Troy coach Greg Davis said. "If teams want to play with us that way, we're excited."
Troy began its comeback with 12 unanswered points after Hulbert's 3-pointer. Alexander's layup in the fourth capped an 8-0 spurt.
"We know we're not the most athletic team or the tallest team, but we dig down deep and fight until the end," Merchant said.
Merchant's successful runner finished Shenendehowa's 8-2 counter and Greg Monroe blocked a shot at the other end. After a Shenendehowa miss, Troy called a time out with 28 seconds left.
"We were trying to run a play for Alonzo in the corner," said Davis, who got a team-leading 19 points and five 3-pointers from Alexander. "The play broke down."
After Shenendehowa committed a non-shooting foul - its fifth of the half - and Troy called another time out with four seconds to go, Nazaire Merritt's runner was blocked by Hulbert just before the final buzzer.
"I knew I was in good enough position to make a play," Hulbert said. "As soon as he jumped up, I got a piece of it."
"We were looking for Alonzo again," Davis said of Troy's last opportunity. "He was our hottest player. We couldn't find him. We had to get a shot off."
Merchant, who missed the first half of last season with an injury, sparked the Plainsmen with 16 points in the first two quarters. His output featured a trio of 3-pointers in the second period when the Plainsmen used a 22-9 spree to go up 39-22.
"It was a tale of two halves," Dzikas said. "In the second half, too much one-on-one. For some reason we just stopped. They're kids. They hit a funk."
Merritt scored 10 of his 14 points in the third quarter when Troy went on a 23-8 surge. The Flying Horses took their first lead of the game at 50-49 on a drive by Latyce Fasion with just over six minutes left in the fourth.
"We have some hard-nosed kids," Davis, who took over this season for Rich Hurley, said. "They know how to compete. They have a winning mentality."
Hulbert, Monroe and T.J. Sangare scored nine points apiece for Shenendehowa, with Sangare also grabbing 11 rebounds. Monroe's putback basket in the waning seconds gave Shenendehowa a 63-61 win over defending Section II Class AA champion Bethlehem Friday.
"Tonight we got an ugly win," Hulbrt said. "It's a learning process. We've got to keep working."
Fasion 5-0-11, Alexander 7-0-19, Merritt 5-3-14, Moore 1-0-3, Casale 3-0-7, Pompey 1-0-2. Totals: 22-3-56.
Merchant 8-2-21, Hulbert 4-0-9, Monroe 3-3-9, Sangare 3-3-9, Dzikas 1-2-5, Canterbury 1-0-2, Altenburger 0-2-2. Totals: 20-12-57.
Troy 13 9 23 11 - 56
Shenendehowa 17 22 8 10 - 57
Three-point goals: Fasion, Alexander 5, Merritt, Moore, Casale, Merchant 3, Hulbert, Dzikas.